Night and Day (song)
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|"Night and Day"|
"Night and Day" is a popular song by Cole Porter that was written for the 1932 musical Gay Divorce. It is perhaps Porter's most popular contribution to the Great American Songbook and has been recorded by dozens of artists.
Fred Astaire introduced "Night and Day" on stage. His recording of the song with the Leo Reisman orchestra was a No. 1 hit, topping the charts of the day for ten weeks. He performed it again in the 1934 film version of the show, renamed The Gay Divorcee, and it became one of his signature songs.
"Night and Day" is often cited by music critics, along with "Stardust" as the finest popular song ever written.
There are several accounts about the song's origin. One mentions that he was inspired by an Islamic prayer when he visited Morocco. Another account says he was inspired by the Moorish architecture of the Alcazar Hotel in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
The song was so associated with Porter that when Hollywood filmed his life story in 1946, the movie was entitled Night and Day.
The construction of "Night and Day" is unusual for a hit song of the 1930s. Most popular tunes then featured 32-bar choruses, divided into four 8-bar sections, usually with an AABA musical structure, the B section representing the bridge.
Porter's song, on the other hand, has a chorus of 48 bars, divided into six sections of eight bars—ABABCB—with section C representing the bridge.
The tune begins with a pedal (repeated) dominant with a major seventh chord built on the flattened sixth of the key, which then resolves to the dominant seventh in the next bar. If performed in the key of B♭, the first chord is therefore G♭ major seventh, with an F (the major seventh above the harmonic root) in the melody, before resolving to F7 and eventually B♭ maj7.
This section repeats and is followed by a descending harmonic sequence starting with a -7♭5 (half diminished seventh chord or Ø) built on the augmented fourth of the key, and descending by semitones—with changes in the chord quality—to the supertonic minor seventh, which forms the beginning of a more standard II-V-I progression. In B♭, this sequence begins with an EØ, followed by an E♭-7, D-7 and D♭ dim, before resolving onto C-7 (the supertonic minor seventh) and cadencing onto B♭.
The bridge is also unusual, with an immediate, fleeting and often (depending on the version) unprepared key change up a minor third, before an equally transient and unexpected return to the key centre. In B♭, the bridge begins with a D♭ major seventh, then moves back to B♭ with a B♭ major seventh chord. This repeats, and is followed by a recapitulation of the second section outlined above.
The vocal verse is also unusual in that most of the melody consists entirely of a single note—the same dominant pedal, that begins the body of the song—with rather inconclusive and unusual harmonies underneath.
Frank Sinatra recorded the song at least five times, including with Axel Stordahl in his first solo session in 1942 and again with him in 1947, with Nelson Riddle in 1956 for A Swingin' Affair!, with Don Costa in 1961 for Sinatra and Strings, and a disco version with Joe Beck in 1977. When Harry James heard Sinatra sing this song, he signed him. Sinatra's 1942 version reaching the No. 16 spot in the U.S. Bing Crosby recorded the song on February 11, 1944 and it appeared on the Billboard chart briefly in 1946 with a peak position of No. 21. Jazzman Charlie Parker recorded a Big Band version in the early 1950s while Stan Getz and Joe Henderson recorded it in the 1960s with their respective quartets.
The song was recorded by Ringo Starr in 1970 for his first solo album Sentimental Journey. Everything but the Girl chose this song for their first single in 1983. It reached No. 92 in August 1982.
In 1990, U2 recorded a cover version for the compilation album Red Hot + Blue, in which U2 used electronic dance beats and hip hop elements for the first time. U2's cover of "Night and Day" reached #2 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, and presaged the electronic sound the band would explore on Achtung Baby the following year.
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