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.
Bordoni's husband and Paris producer Ray Goetz convinced Porter to give Broadway another try with this show. The song was later used in the English production of Wake Up and Dream (1929) 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.
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.
One commentator saw the phrase Let's do "it" as a euphemistic reference to a proposition for sexual intercourse. 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). 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". 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 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 although Coward's lyrics were entirely and completely rewritten as a topical piece, with none of Porter's lyrics remaining.
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The song has been revived many times since 1928, although usually with only a limited portion of the original lyrics. 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).
"So let's do it, just get on a plane and just do it / Like the birds and the bees and get to it"
The song also influenced the Canadian indie rock group Mother Mother's song "Let's Fall in Love".
Pablo Bubar 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.
Racial lyrics controversy
The original was:
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), 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. 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.
- Dorsey Brothers & their Orchestra (vocal, Bing Crosby) (1928)
- Rudy Vallée and His Connecticut Yankees (1928)
- Mary Martin - Mexican Hayride (1944)
- Eartha Kitt with Henri René and his orchestra. Recorded in New York City on October 5, 1951. It was released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-5737 (in USA) and by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalog number B 10778. The song was also released on the LP That Bad Eartha (1953)
- Dinah Washington - In the Land of Hi-Fi (1956)
- Louis Armstrong - Ella and Louis Again (1957), Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson (1957)
- Frank Sinatra & Shirley MacLaine, Can-Can Soundtrack, 1960
- Mad magazine spoofed the song using comic strip characters, as the finale to The MAD "Comic" Opera from MAD #56, written by Frank Jacobs: "We've heard that Blondie and Dag do it/Frequently a Yokum and a Scragg do it/Let's do it, let's fall in love...."
- Al Hirt - The Greatest Horn in the World (1961)
- Hildegard Knef - Träume heißen Du ("Sei mal verliebt" — German version, 1968)
- Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook (1956), The Stockholm Concert, 1966 (1966), Montreux '75 (1975)
- John Inman - I'm Free (1977)
- Kim Basinger - The Marrying Man (1991)
- Joan Jett and Paul Westerberg of The Replacements recorded a punk version for the soundtrack of Tank Girl
- Susannah McCorkle - Easy to Love – The Songs of Cole Porter (1996)
- Lee Wiley - Hot House Rose (1996), Sings Porter and Gershwin (2004)
- Dee Dee Bridgewater - Dear Ella (1997)
- Come Shine - Come Shine (2001)
- Chico Buarque and Elza Soares – "Façamos - Vamos Amar" (Brazilian version, 2002)
- Alanis Morissette - Alanis Morissette: The Collection (2005) (Originally released on the soundtrack of De-Lovely)
- Diana Ross - Blue (recorded in 1973, unreleased until 2006)
- Barbara Schöneberger - Sei mal verliebt - Jetzt singt sie auch noch! (2007)
- James Newman - Skins (Newman performed the song (as his character Tony) in the episode "Tony" of the US version of the UK drama Skins.)
- Yves Heck - Heck played the physical role while Conal Fowkes provided the voice as Cole Porter in the 2011 Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris.
- Wonder Pets — In the episode "Save the Puppy", they sang a spoof of the song about how everyone needs to "wee-wee, pee-pee, tinkle" using the lyrics "Dogs do it, frogs do it, even funny winking hogs do it...".
- The Sesame Street song "Let's Lay an Egg" is a spoof of the song, using the lyrics "Snails do it, slugs do it. Even tiny Twiddlebugs do it!"
- Molly Ringwald - the theme song for The Secret Life of the American Teenager from 2008-2012, in which Ringwald also stars as Anne Juergens. Ringwald's rendition is upbeat containing such lines as "Falling in love is such a easy thing to do. Birds can do it, we can do it. Let's stop talking, let's get to it. Let's fall in love."
- Pablo Bubar - Boom Town (2013)
- 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.
- 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.
- Charles Schwartz (21 March 1979). Cole Porter: a biography. Da Capo Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-306-80097-9. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- Tom Santopietro (11 November 2008). Sinatra in Hollywood. Macmillan. p. 475. ISBN 978-0-312-36226-3. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- 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.
- 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.
- Noël Coward; John Hadfield (October 1973). Cowardy custard: the world of Noël Coward. Heinemann. p. 52. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- "Lyrics Website". Retrieved 2012-02-25.
- Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (25 December 1954). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 16. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
- on YouTube
- Bing Crosby (1928). Bing Crosby, Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love w/Dorsey Brothers And Their Orchestra. (YouTube).
- Billie Holiday (1941). Billie Holiday, Let's Do It (YouTube).
- 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.
- "RCA Victor Records in the 20-5500 to 20-5999 series". 78discography.com. Retrieved 2013-11-29.
- Al Hirt, The Greatest Horn in the World Retrieved April 6, 2013.
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
- Ella Fitzgerald recording of this song (archive.org)
- on YouTube