Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Hart & Harburg Lyrics

Sorry for the lack of postings (postage?). To fill the space, here are some lyrics by two of my three favourite lyricists, Larry Hart and Yip Harburg (Carolyn Leigh completes the trinity).

Hart's lyric for one of the great Rodgers and Hart songs, "Moon of My Delight" from Chee-Chee (1928). This was one of the strangest musicals ever -- the story of a young Chinese nobleman who has no desire to be the next Grand Eunuch of Peking. The score was so fully integrated into the script that the program didn't even print the names of individual songs, and "Moon of My Delight" was too closely tied to the style of the show -- with its mix of fake Oriental-isms and colloquial slang -- to become a hit. It's a wonderful song, though, and a truly off-kilter way of writing a love song:

Verse 1

Moon of moons, when you are mine,
Bright the night will be,
But remember, when you shine,
Concentrate on me.
Moon of moons, be mine alone,
Mine alone -- don't laugh, moon!
I would never care to own
A quarter or a half moon.


Moon of my delight,
I'm going to put a ring around you.
You'll stay home tonight,
Scintillating where I found you.
When you were a little crescent,
Your manners were as soft as wool;
Now you're getting effervescent,
But maybe that's because you're full.
Moon of my delight,
If you'd only treat me right,
We could have a satellite or two,
Moon of my delight.

Verse 2

You're my moon and I'm your earth,
Bless me with your gaze!
What are lovely evenings worth
If I lose your rays?
If you ever should depart,
I would be a mean cheese.
If you leave me, then your heart
Must be made of green cheese.

Repeat Refrain

And Harburg's lyric for "Vive La Virtue" from The Happiest Girl in the World, where the evil Pluto (Cyril Ritchard) explains to the chaste Diana (Janice Rule) why he just loves chastity -- it drives mortal men wild:

Ev'ry man, I must alert you,
When seeking a lady fair,
Always gravitates to virtue,
Still hoping it won't be there.
Man prefers a chick that is first
Instead of a hen already rehearsed.
Man, it seems has got to make sure --
Whatever he takes has got to be pure.

So vive la virtue, vive la virtue,
Makes your heart go pippety-pat.
Vive la virtue, vive la virtue,
What an aphrodisiac, that!
Let not virtue e'er desert you,
Man was made for Love à la Carte,
For he's at his best
When sharing his nest
With the pure in heart.

Vice is not averse to virtue,
Though virtue is versa vice,
And the man who would unskirt you
Won't do it unless you're nice.
This is man's ambivelent taste:
Whatever is chased has got to be chaste.
Paradox is deep in his blood:
He's after the rose, but leaps at the bud.

So vive la virtue, vive la virtue,
Up the Bacchanalian cup,
Vive la virtue, vive la virtue,
Down with things that cover it up!
Let not virtue e'er desert you,
Fie on all the cynical gents,
For the way to slay
The cunning roué
Is with innocence.

No comments: