Bewitched, Bothered and Bowdlerised

March 28, 2009 at 1:32 am (music, Rosie B, Uncategorized) ()

I was having lunch in a pub last Saturday. The music in the background was selections from The Great American Songbook, sung by Frank Sinatra, which was absolutely fine by me.  I was alone, I hadn’t brought anything to read, so I was glad to hear some lyrics that were worth listening to.  I followed Sinatra through a couple of verses of Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, until he got to this verse:-

I’ll sing to her,
Each spring to her,
And long for the day that I can cling to her.

Hey!  What’s happened to worshipping the trousers that cling to him?  Oh well, I suppose it’s a bloke singing and they have to make the love object female.  But couldn’t he have worshipped the stockings that cling to her?  Or some other female garments?

When I got home I looked on YouTube, found a couple of versions sung by women, and it was the same soppy longing for the day I can cling to him.  Here’s one by Doris Day:-

She’s clinging all right.   She also:-

Couldn’t sleep,
Wouldn’t sleep,
Then love came and told me I shouldn’t sleep

when really she:-

Couldn’t sleep
And wouldn’t sleep
Until I could sleep where I shouldn’t sleep

Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered was written by Rodgers and Hart and is from Pal Joey (1940).  Later covers of this warm, juicy song were bowdlerised and soppified. It’s wasn’t written as a song of romantic fantasy, the one where you fall into Prince Charming’s arms for ever and ever.  It’s about shagging Mr All Too Real, and the woman, as well as being hot with desire, is ruefully amused at the spectacle of herself in love (yet again). 

Here’s Patty LuPone singing it with gusto, enjoying those sophisticated and sexy lyrics:-

 

I’ll sing to him
Each spring to him
And worship the trousers that cling to him.

When he talks he is seeking
Words to get off his chest
Horizontally speaking,
He’s at his very best

Vexed again
Perplexed again
Thank god, I can be oversexed again.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered, am I. 

5 Comments

  1. Jim Denham said,

    Ella sings the best version (Verve records, still easily available on CD – the “Songbooks”), and she sings Lorenz Hart’s alternative lyrics, “And worship the trousers that cling to him.” But those were *not* the official lyrics at the time, even though Hart wrote them.

  2. Rosie said,

    The impression I had was that the sexy lyrics were used in Pal Joey but when it came to popular covers they used the cleaned up version. I’m ready to be corrected on that point – I read it up on wikipedia (shuffle, blush).

    I’m really glad that the first time I heard this song it was with the sexy lyrics, but I don’t know who was singing it.

  3. Steve K said,

    And I’ve also felt its a great song about rediscovering that you can fall in love again in middle-age / later life after a ‘fallow period’. And it’s one of those that only really makes sense when you’ve been through love’s mill a time or two – that I didn’t get when I was just 20.

  4. Rosie said,

    That’s what I love about a lot of songs from that era – they’re written for grown ups.

  5. Jim Denham said,

    “The songs of that era…written for grown ups”: yes, indeed, some, like the work of Hart, Porter, Mercer and the Gershwins, were. But have you ever listened to the words of, say “The Music Goes ‘Round And Around”, or “Nagasaki” ?

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