Saturday, October 31, 2015

#18: A fancy well worth thinking of

Cole Porter may or may not have written "At Long Last Love" as he lay waiting for help in the immediate aftermath of having his legs crushed by a horse in a horrific riding accident. But we know for sure that it was written for the 1938 flop You Never Know. Two decades later, Frank and Nelson got their hands on it and recorded it for A Swingin' Affair:

I'm not sure why I rate this song so highly. Maybe it's the premise: a guy who's been waiting for love for a long, long time, and whose hopes have been raised, along with doubts. I also like Mr. Porter's elegant language: the title phrase, and words like "lark" and "fancy." I guess there's no way we could bring those back into usage? I didn't think so.

The arrangement is classic Riddle, starting gently and building in the usual gratifying way:
Is it an earthquake [pow]
or simply a shock [bop]?
I love the way Sinatra sings "or is it merely the mock?" And he finishes so strong:
Is it a fancy not worth thinking of?
Or is it at long, long, long last love?
I think it's the real thing. Go for it.

Frank did another recording of "ALLL" in 1962, this one arranged with verve by Neal Hefti for Sinatra and Swingin' Brass. Bob B. likes it better, and it surely swings, but I can't quite warm up to it; the emotional content just isn't there for me.

A couple of other takes: Here's the Live in Paris version which swings with just a sextet and in which "cocktail" becomes "whisky." And here's a fun TV performance, using the Riddle arrangement, that swings from the top. And another here. Enjoy.

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