The Lady Is a Tramp

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"The Lady Is a Tramp"
Song from Babes in Arms
Published 1937
Writer Lorenz Hart
Composer Richard Rodgers

"The Lady Is a Tramp" is a show tune from the 1937 Rodgers and Hart musical Babes in Arms in which it was introduced by former child star Mitzi Green. This song is a spoof of New York high society and its strict etiquette (the first line of the verse is "I get too hungry for dinner at eight..."). It has become a popular standard.

Original Lyrics[edit]

VERSE

I've wined and dined on Mulligan stew
And never wished for turkey
As I hitched and hiked and grifted, too,
From Maine to Albuquerque.
Alas, I missed the Beaux Arts Ball,
And what is twice as sad,
I was never at a party
Where they honored Noel Ca'ad.
But social circles spin too fast for me.
My Hobohemia is the place to be.

REFRAIN 1

I get too hungry for dinner at eight
I like the theater but never come late
I never bother with people I hate
That's why the lady is a tramp
I don't like crapgames with Barons and Earls
Won't go to Harlem in ermine and pearls
Won't dish the dirt with the rest of the girls
That's why the lady is a tramp
I like the free fresh wind in my hair
Life without care
I'm broke, it's oke
Hates California is cold and is damp
That's why the lady is a tramp

REFRAIN 2

I go to Coney-the beach is divine.
I go to ball games-the bleachers are fine.
I follow Winchell and read ev'ry line.
That's why the lady is a tramp.
I like a prizefight that isn't a fake.
I love the rowing on Central Park Lake.
I go to opera and stay wide awake.
That's why the lady is a tramp.
I like the green grass under my shoes.
What can I lose?
I'm flat! That's that!
I'm all alone when I lower my lamp.
That's why the lady is a tramp.

REFRAIN 3 (reprise)

Don't know the reason for cocktails at five.
I don't like flying-I'm glad I'm alive.
I crave affection, but not when I drive.
That's why the lady is a tramp.
Folks go to London and leave me behind.
I'll miss the crowning, Queen Mary won't mind.
I don't play Scarlett in Gone With the Wind-
That' s why the lady is a tramp.
I like to hang my hat where I please.
Sail with the breeze.
No dough-heigh-ho!
I love La Guardia and think he's a champ.
That' s why the lady is a tramp.

REFRAIN 4 (reprise)

Girls get massages, they cry and they moan.
Tell Lizzie Arden to leave me alone.
I'm not so hot, but my shape is my own.
That's why the lady is a tramp!
The food at Sardi's is perfect, no doubt.
I wouldn't know what the Ritz is about.
I drop a nickel and coffee comes out.
That's why the lady is a tramp!
I like the sweet, fresh rain in my face.
Diamonds and lace,
No got-so what?

Explanation[edit]

The lyrics are about a woman who has her own priorities in life and who is not interested to play with New York high society stereotypes. Hence she is dismissed as a Tramp.[1] The original lyrics are more explicit than subsequent versions and portrait dated references to mid '30s New York urban life and culture.

  • Fiorello La Guardia was elected mayor of New York Mayor in 1933 and obviously his electoral base was not the Manhattan elite but the middle-class (Italian and German immigrants, Jews, some Democrats and Socialists ...)
  • George VI and Queen Elizabeth's coronation was in 1937 and most of Manhattan elite (the people who played with Earls and Barons) was interested in the ceremony in London.
  • Mulligan stew, is a dish said to have been prepared by American hobos in camps in the early 1900s.
  • Ritz hotel is a New York luxury hotel on Central Park.
  • Sardi's is a New York restaurant that opened in 1927 in 234 West 44th Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, where still is).
  • Noël Coward was a British actor and director, very popular in '30s. He is known for his sophisticated comedies and influence on American culture.
  • Coney Island and the lake in Central Park are popular places for New York mid-class amusements.
  • Walter Winchell was an American newspaper and radio gossip commentator.
  • Elizabeth Arden built a cosmetics empire in the United States.
  • Beaux Arts Ball was held in 1931, in New York, when famous architects dressed up as their buildings.
  • Dinner at Eight quote is self-explanatory but also the title of a 1933 movie: a comedy of manners about the life of a high class New York magnate family, inviting at dinner some Peers from England (Lord and Lady Ferncliffe) as a sign of social distinction, but the dinner turned out in disaster.

Versions[edit]

Early recordings from 1937 include one by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra (featuring Edythe Wright on vocals), Midge Williams and Her Jazz Jesters, Sophie Tucker, and Bernie Cummins on the Vocalion records label (#3714). Lena Horne recorded the song with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio Orchestra on March 30, 1948. Her performance appeared in the film, Words and Music, a fictionalized biography of the partnership of Rodgers and Hart. The song was also used in the film version of Pal Joey starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak. Joey Evans (Sinatra) sings the song to Vera Simpson (Hayworth) as he tries to entice the wealthy widow Simpson into financing Evans's dream of owning his own night club. It was recorded by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald in 1950s and Shirley Bassey in the 1960s, becoming a signature song for each of them. Buddy Greco's version was a million seller in the 50s.

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga duet[edit]

"The Lady Is a Tramp"
Single by Tony Bennett featuring Lady Gaga
from the album Duets II
Released October 3, 2011
Format Digital download, airplay
Recorded March 23, 2011
Abbey Road Studios
Genre Swing, jazz, pop
Length 3:18
Label Sony Music Entertainment
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Phil Ramone
Tony Bennett singles chronology
"Body and Soul"
(2011)
"The Lady Is a Tramp"
(2011)
"Don't Get Around Much Anymore"
(2011)
Lady Gaga singles chronology
"Yoü and I"
(2011)
"The Lady Is a Tramp"
(2011)
"Marry the Night"
(2011)

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga recorded a version of this song for his 2011 album Duets II. Bennett praised Gaga's performance in the song, saying that she is a real "jazz lady". The single differs from the somber theme of "Body and Soul" displayed by Bennett and Winehouse in the album's first single, with its playful back-and-forth vocal theme instead. They performed the song live on ABC's Thanksgiving special dedicated to, written, directed, produced and hosted by Gaga entitled A Very Gaga Thanksgiving.[2] They were the opening number, singing next to an old piano in a casual obscure room.[3] Gaga played the part of a "tramp" with class and style; grabbing a red handkerchief out of Bennett's pocket, as well as taking off and showing her shoe to Bennett and then throwing it over her shoulder, were playful touches. After the song, there were clips of Lady Gaga, preparing for the show with excerpts of Bennett observations. Bennett said, "I see in Lady Gaga a touch of theatrical genius, she is very creative and very productive, I think as time goes on she might be America's Picasso. I think she's going to become as big as Elvis Presley," he continued. "She's absolutely brilliant with what she does. She's a very, very magnificent performer and she does know how to sing, and she does know how to play the piano. I see great things for her." "My favorite is that Lady Gaga. She's the biggest. I'll tell you, I never met anyone with more talent than that lady."[4] The song, even though not officially released got to enter the Japan Hot 100, where it has managed to enter the top 40 and it has also entered the top 200 extension to the UK Singles Chart.[5][6] Following the single, Bennett drew a sketch of Gaga naked for the January 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, which was then auctioned for $30,000. The money raised went to charity, supporting the Exploring the Arts (ETA) and Born This Way Foundation.[7] "I walked in and said, 'Well Tony here we are,' ... and I dropped my robe, and I got into position. It was very, very nerve-wracking. I felt shy and thought, 'It's Tony Bennett, why am I naked?'" said Gaga of the experience.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

The song as well as the video received critical acclaim for the vocals of both Bennett and Gaga as well as for the simplicity of the video, which departs from Gaga's usual efforts. Gina Serpe of E! commented that, "much like [Bennett's] video with Amy, this one features the two crooners belting it out and hamming it up side-by-side in a studio, with Gaga getting into full broad mode, swilling a drink, flirting with Tony and even dancing with him during the song breaks. All this with no egg incubators or skin horns in sight—the only thing the lady is displaying in this video is her talent. 'Bout time."[9] "Of the current crop of pop superstars, perhaps none is better suited to take on "The Lady Is a Tramp" than Lady Gaga," said MTV's James Montgomery.[10] Other critics expressed hopes that Gaga would release her own jazz music after this successful effort.[11]

Music video[edit]

The duo filmed a music video for the track.[10][12] The video shows Bennett and Gaga singing "The Lady Is a Tramp" together in a studio in front of music stands. Both wear black tie attire, with Bennett sporting a suit and Gaga donning an evening dress made up by black-colored semi-transparent lace. Despite their black clothes, each artist contrasts these with some color, as Bennett rests a red handkerchief in his breast pocket while Gaga wears a turquoise bob wig. In the beginning of the video and during occasional other scenes, Gaga holds a whiskey glass. The mood of the video is light and cheerful, as both singers smile constantly and use hand gestures and swing their arms to express happiness. Like the lyrical content, the video features a back-and-forth style, showing the two singers back and forth while their lines switch. Adding to the animation, the two make gesture and point to each other during their lines. Additional animations include Gaga pulling Bennett's red handkerchief out of his pocket in the middle of the video, holding up the tail of her dress on multiple occasions, and moving to Bennett's microphone during her "I'm so broke" line as well as for the concluding line of "that's why this lady is a tramp." Bennett meanwhile makes his own gestures, including a-ok during his line of "Jeter's just fine." At the end of the video, Gaga kisses Bennett on the cheek and he thanks her. Although the video is much simpler than Gaga's usual solo videos, her animated gestures, blue hair, and kiss on the cheek, help her to maintain some of her usual quirks.

The video, like the song's lyrical content, received largely positive critical reception. "The video seems to show two talented musicians having a good time. Bennett seems to love every minute of it, trading vocal lines, laughing when Gaga steals his handkerchief and taking her on a slow dance at the end of the song. I like the premise – two jazzy, cool cats sippin' on 30 year old scotch, sharing memories and making music. Well, if this isn’t the most charming music video of the year I don’t know what is," praised Kyle Moffatt of Fresh 102.7 radio.[13] "Gaga plays the role to perfection, vamping and camping alongside Bennett, blue hair bobbing along to the beat," expressed James Montgomery of MTV. "In a floor-length black-lace dress, she belts out the chorus, flits and flirts through lines like "I love the free, fresh wind in my hair" and "I'm so broke" (and even professes her love for the Yankees, which probably explains her behavior at Citi Field last season) does the prerequisite pouting and even scats a bit. Bennett seems to love every minute of it, trading vocal couplets, laughing when Gaga steals his handkerchief and taking her on a slow dance at song's end. And thanks to the backing of a roaring big band, this new version of "Tramp" is not only a welcome addition to the lengthy list of cover versions, but, in some way, it takes the song into new territory too. A lot of that is thanks to Gaga, who gives her all and really, truly becomes the Tramp."[10] Hypetune.com raved that, "[The duet] is brilliant. Sometimes, Lady Gaga really surprises us. We are used to her being different and extraordinary, so her choices oftentimes don’t “surprise” us. But, a jazz tune with Tony Bennett? Gaga has a brilliant jazz voice. One of the oddest collaborations on paper is one of the most fantastic things we’ve ever seen. The video is also wonderful. It’s a must see for all lovers of music. Check it out below. Get on the hype."[14]

Live performances[edit]

Gaga and Bennett performed "The Lady Is a Tramp" as the opening number for a special performance of Gaga's, entitled A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, which was shown exclusively on ABC on November 24, 2011.[15] Talking about the performance herself, Gaga gushed to Katie Couric, "Oh Tony he's so handsome I feel terrible whenever his wife is around because he is so charming and such a gentleman." And it appears the feeling is mutual with the 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco' singer saying: "She is the most beautiful person I ever met but there is something very special about her."[16]

The performance received positive reviews from critics and fans, with them particular praising the subdued and traditional feel Gaga brought to this special, which was directed to a family audience. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly praised that, "[the performance] was disarmingly direct, sincere, and unpretentious. Turns out happiness is a warm Gaga."[17] "Lady Gaga put on a subdued holiday shindig for television viewers," agreed Sarah Anne Hughes of The Washington Post. "Regardless of what you thought this would be, Lady Gaga certainly pleased and surprised viewers this Thanksgiving night," said Matt's Movie Thoughts review. "She delivered herself more honestly than we usually get to see her. This is truly amazing because she knew exactly how to strike the right notes."[18] "Set in a cabaret Gaga played the part of a "tramp" with class and style she sang with Tony," said Darla Hanger of The Examiner. "It was a delightful production. The two had great chemistry as they sang and did a 'delish' remake of the original song. Grabbing Tony's red handkerchief out of his pocket, also taking off and showing her shoe to Tony and then throwing it over her shoulder was a playful touch. Lady Gaga's accent and acting while singing was perfect. Lady Gaga is able to "jive" with the best of them." "It was very carefully laid out – warm and low-key, visually sumptuous but appropriately restrained without losing the Gaga-ness of it all," said Michael Sellers. "Other words that come to mind – direct, unpretentious, sincere, and old school (as the holidays should be), with just a touch of carefully and sparingly applied edge. [It] had what were clearly Gaga-esque touches throughout, a set that would return throughout the how and provide an interesting, holiday, velvety vibe."[19] "That was...a tasteful, controversy-free Gaga for all in the family to enjoy on Thanksgiving. We'll gladly give a toast to that!" praised MTV's Sterling Wong. "She is unlikely to be Picasso," commented Hadley Freedman of the UK's The Guardian (in response to Bennett's comments), "but she could well turn out to be something far more interesting than one might have expected of a woman whose debut album was primarily influenced by 90s Swedish dance band Ace of Bass. Other critics stated that the success of this spectacle should make the viewing of such events become a Thanksgiving tradition for Americans.[20]

Track listing[edit]

  • Digital download
  1. "The Lady Is a Tramp" – 3:18

Charts[edit]

Chart (2011) Peak
position
Japan Hot 100[5] 33
UK Singles Chart[6] 188
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[21] 21
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles[22] 21

Release history[edit]

Country Release date Format
United States[23] September 20, 2011 Digital download
France[24] October 3, 2011
United Kingdom[25] November 5, 2011 Mainstream radio

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://sinatrafamily.com/forum/frank-sinatra-8/can-someone-explain-lyrics-lady-tramp-10750/
  2. ^ "'A Very Gaga Thanksgiving': 5 Things We Want to See". Aoltv.com. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  3. ^ Kaufman, Gil (2011-11-04). "Lady Gaga To Host Thanksgiving Special". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  4. ^ "New Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga – "The Lady Is A Tramp" Video". The Audio Perv. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  5. ^ a b http://www.billboard.com/artist/430193/tony+bennett/chart
  6. ^ a b Zywietz, Tobias. "Chart Log UK – Update 15.10.2011". Zobbel. Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  7. ^ Fair, Vanity. "Tony Bennett's Nude Lady Gaga Sketch Auctioned for $30,000". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  8. ^ Anne, Sarah (2011-11-25). "‘A Very Gaga Thanksgiving’: A subdued holiday with Mama Monster (Video) – Celebritology 2.0". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  9. ^ "Lady Gaga "Tramps" It Up With Tony Bennett in New Music Video". E! Online. 2011-10-03. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  10. ^ a b c 08/18/2011 19:33:21 (2011-10-03). "Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett 'Tramp' It Up In New Video – Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  11. ^ "Lady Gaga Is A Broadway Baby On Tony Bennett Duet "The Lady Is A Tramp" | Music News, Reviews, and Gossip on". Idolator.com. 2011-09-15. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  12. ^ "Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett unveil 'The Lady Is a Tramp' video – Music News". Digital Spy. 2011-10-03. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  13. ^ "Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ [Video]". Fresh1027.radio.com. 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  14. ^ "The Lady Is A Tramp [Video] – Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga". HypeTune.com. 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  15. ^ 11/24/2011 (2011-11-24). "Welcome to 'A Very Gaga Thanksgiving' | Video – ABC News". ABCnews.go. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  16. ^ "Lady Gaga posed nude for Tony Bennett|Celebrities". China Daily. 2011-11-28. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  17. ^ Hibberd, James (2011-11-24). "'A Very Gaga Thanksgiving': Did Lady Gaga give too much? | Ken Tucker's TV | EW.com". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  18. ^ This is truly amazing because she knew exactly how to strike the right notes
  19. ^ "Review: A Very Gaga Thanksgiving reveals Lady Gaga’s capacity to surprise……". Michael D. Sellers. 2011-11-24. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  20. ^ by Lyric (2011-11-25). "Watch: Lady Gaga'S Very Classy Thanksgiving Special". Carlton Jordan. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  21. ^ "Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – The Lady Is A Tramp". ultratop.be. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  22. ^ "Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles: Week Ending June 11, 2011". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2011-06-11. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  23. ^ "The Lady Is A Tramp: Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: MP3 Downloads". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  24. ^ Steffen Hung. "Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – The Lady Is A Tramp". lescharts.com. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  25. ^ "BBC – Radio 2 – Playlist – Week Commencing: November 5, 2011". BBC Radio 2. November 5, 2011. Archived from the original on November 2, 2011. 

External links[edit]