Saturday, February 25, 2006

More Lyrics: "Too Good For the Average Man"

Another obscure song lyric worth quoting is by Larry Hart, the wordsmith half of the team of Rodgers and Hart, from the 1936 musical On Your Toes. The song is called "Too Good For the Average Man," a duet for a Russian ballet impresario (based on Diaghliev) and a high-society patroness of the arts. To Rodgers' mock-minuet tune, they sing about their shared understanding of the fact that, as wealthy dilettantes, they feel entitled to enjoy certain pleasures that are not available to the lower classes: some things are just "Too Good For the Average Man."

Interestingly, even though most forms of entertainment and comfort have become cheaper and more widely available since 1936, the song actually holds up pretty well in the sense that many of the enjoyments and fads it describes are still mostly the province of the affluent, and many of the observations -- like the line about rich women having easier access to family planning, or the plastic surgery joke -- could be made today with no change whatsoever. The one thing that doesn't hold up is the joke about rich people being overweight; that's been replaced by fitness-mania among the rich. Otherwise, Larry Hart is always relevant.


When Russia was White,
It was White for the classes
And Red for the masses,
Unfortunate asses!
All wealth belonged to few.
When England was Tudor,
The King and his cronies
Had cocktails at Tony's,
The poor had baloneys,
And that's how England grew.
Sing "la and huzzah" for the poor folks
As long as the poor folks are your folks.

Refrain 1

Finer things are for the finer folk,
Thus society began.
Caviar for peasants is a joke;
It's too good for the average man.
Supper clubs are for the upper folk,
Packed like sardines in a can.
Through the smoke you get your check and choke;
It's too good for the average man.
Each poor man has a wife he must stick to,
Rich men have a different habit.
To be caught in flagrante delictu
Is much too good for the average rabbit.
All-night parties, drinking like a Lord,
Fit into our social plan.
Waking in the alcoholic ward
Is too good for the average man.

Refrain 2

Rich old age can blossom like a rose;
Plastic surgeons have a plan.
Cutting off your face to spite your nose
Is too good for the average pan.
Fancy foods are for the fancy taste,
Diets for the poorer man.
Gaining too much weight below the waist
Is too good for the average can.
Lots of kids for a poor wife are dandy,
Girls of fashion can be choosy.
Birth control and the modus operandi
Are much too good for the average floozy.
Psychoanalysts are all the whirl;
Rich men pay them all they can.
Waking up to find that he's a girl
Is too good for the average man.

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