Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love

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Cole Porter, composer of "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love"

"Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love" (also known as "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)" or simply "Let's Do It") is a popular song written in 1928 by Cole Porter. It was introduced in Porter's first Broadway success, the musical Paris (1928) by French chanteuse Irène Bordoni for whom Porter had written the musical as a starring vehicle.[1]

Bordoni's husband and Paris producer Ray Goetz convinced Porter to give Broadway another try with this show.[2] The song was later used in the English production of Wake Up and Dream (1929)[3] and was used as the title theme music in the 1933 Hollywood movie, Grand Slam starring Loretta Young and Paul Lukas. In 1960 it was also included in the film version of Cole Porter's Can-Can.[4]

History[edit]

The first of Porter's famous "list songs", it features a string of suggestive and droll comparisons and examples, preposterous pairings and double entendres, dropping famous names and events, drawing unexpectedly from highbrow and popular culture. Porter was a strong admirer of the Savoy Operas of Gilbert & Sullivan, many of whose stage works featured similar comic list songs.[5]

The first refrain covers human ethnic groups, the second refrain birds, the third refrain marine life, the fourth refrain insects (plus centipedes) and the fifth refrain non-human mammals.

One commentator saw the phrase Let's do "it" as a euphemistic reference to a proposition for a sexual intercourse.[1] According to this argument, Let's do it was a pioneer pop song to declare openly "sex is fun". According to it, several suggestive lines include a couplet from verse 4: "Moths in your rugs do it, What's the use of moth-balls?" and "Folks in Siam do it, Think of Siamese twins" (verse 1) and "Why ask if shad do it? Waiter, bring me shad roe" (verse 3) and "Sweet guinea-pigs do it, Buy a couple and wait" (verse 5).[6] There's also a report that Porter's original version included the even more risqué line, "Roosters with a doodle and a cock do it"[citation needed]. If true, this was probably replaced by one of the lines in the verse 2 couplet "Penguins in flocks, on the rocks, do it, Even little cuckoos, in their clocks, do it."

The nature of the song, "Let's Fall in Love," is such that it has lent itself over the years to the regular addition of contemporary or topical stanzas. For example, in 1955 the line "Even Liberace, we assume, does it" was added by Noël Coward in his cabaret performance of the song[7] although Coward's lyrics were entirely and completely rewritten as a topical piece, with none of Porter's lyrics remaining.[8]

Legacy[edit]

2011 performance of "Let's Do It" by Linda November and Artie Schroeck in Nevada

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The song has been revived many times since 1928, although usually with only a limited portion of the original lyrics.[9] A punk rock version performed by Joan Jett and Paul Westerberg was used as the theme song in the 1995 movie Tank Girl, and later in a more classical version in a musical revue number within the film. In the revue, the song is at first performed by stage actress Ann Magnuson, but is taken over by star Lori Petty after she places duct tape over Magnuson's mouth. It was originally recorded with Joan Jett and Greg Graffin, but Atlantic Records did not want them using Graffin so they deleted his voice and recorded Westerberg's. Joan Jett and Greg Graffin's version of "Let's Do It" was eventually released in 2000 on the compilation CD Laguna Tunes (Blackheart Records).

The White Stripes' song, "Forever For Her (Is Over For Me)" from their 2005 album Get Behind Me Satan borrows lyrics and themes from this song:

"So let's do it, just get on a plane and just do it // Like the birds and the bees and get to it"

Brazilian singers Chico Buarque and Elza Soares recorded a Portuguese adaptation by Carlos Rennó, "Façamos - Vamos Amar" on Buarque's 2002 album "Duetos". It adds even more nations, animals and groups.

The song is featured prominently in Woody Allen's 2011 film Midnight in Paris. Actor Yves Heck played Cole Porter in the movie.

The song also influenced the Canadian indie-rock group Mother Mother in their song Let's Fall In Love.

Pablo Bubar [1] reintroduced "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)" in one of the musical romance sketches of "Pablo the Romantic" from "Boom Town", broadcast by BBC Three (UK, 2013). This version includes the piano music of Ross Leadbeater [2].

Scottish singer Shirley Manson, from alternative band Garbage, incorporated lyrics from the song into Garbage's performance of their song "Vow" at Bizarre festival in 1996.[10]

Racial lyrics controversy[edit]

In Porter's publication from 1928, the opening lines for the chorus carried three derogatory racial references: Chinks, Japs, and Laps.

The original was:[9]

Chinks do it, Japs do it,
up in Lapland little Laps do it...

The original line can be heard in several early recordings of the song, such as a recording made by Dorsey Brothers & their Orchestra (featuring a vocal by a young Bing Crosby),[11] Rudy Vallée, both in 1928, and a version of the song by the singer and well-known Broadway star Mary Martin (with Ray Sinatra's orchestra), recorded in 1944. Another example is Billie Holiday, in 1941.[12] Peggy Lee with the Benny Goodman orchestra recorded a version in 1941 with these lyrics (see the CD "The Essential Benny Goodman" published by Columbia/Bluebird/Legacy (88697 09491 2)).

Porter changed the opening to the now famous refrain: "Birds do it, Bees do it" when he realized that the line was offensive.[13]

Notable recordings[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sheldon Patinkin (20 May 2008). "No legs, no jokes, no chance": a history of the American musical theater. Northwestern University Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-8101-1994-9. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Don Tyler (2 April 2007). Hit songs, 1900-1955: American popular music of the pre-rock era. McFarland. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-7864-2946-2. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Charles Schwartz (21 March 1979). Cole Porter: a biography. Da Capo Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-306-80097-9. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Tom Santopietro (11 November 2008). Sinatra in Hollywood. Macmillan. p. 475. ISBN 978-0-312-36226-3. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Morris Dickstein (6 September 2010). Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 374. ISBN 978-0-393-33876-8. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  6. ^ Robert A. Schanke (March 2002). Staging desire: queer readings of American theater history. University of Michigan Press. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-472-06749-7. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  7. ^ Noël Coward; John Hadfield (October 1973). Cowardy custard: the world of Noël Coward. Heinemann. p. 52. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  8. ^ "Lyrics Website". Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  9. ^ a b Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (25 December 1954). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 16. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  10. ^ Garbage- Vow Live at the Bizarre Festival 1996 on YouTube
  11. ^ Bing Crosby (1928). Bing Crosby, Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love w/Dorsey Brothers And Their Orchestra. (YouTube). 
  12. ^ Billie Holiday (1941). Billie Holiday, Let's Do It (YouTube). 
  13. ^ Philip H. Herbst (1997). The Color of Words: an encyclopedic dictionary of ethnic bias in the United States. Intercultural Press. ISBN 1-877864-97-8. 
  14. ^ "RCA Victor Records in the 20-5500 to 20-5999 series". 78discography.com. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  15. ^ Al Hirt, The Greatest Horn in the World Retrieved April 6, 2013.

External links[edit]