Night and Day (song)

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"Night and Day"
Published 1932
Writer Cole Porter

"Night and Day" is a popular song by Cole Porter. It was written for the 1932 musical play 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, and his recording of the song was a #1 hit. He performed it again in the 1934 film version of the show, renamed The Gay Divorcee, and it became one of his signature pieces.

There are several accounts on how he got inspiration to compose the song. One mentioning that he was inspired by Islamic prayer when he visited Morocco.[1] Another popular legend has it he was inspired by the Moorish architecture of the Alcazar Hotel in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.[2]

The song was so associated with Porter, that when Hollywood first filmed his life story in 1946, the movie was entitled Night and Day.

Notable recordings[edit]

"Night and Day" has been recorded many times, notably by Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Eartha Kitt, Bill Evans, Art Tatum, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, Sondre Lerche, Doris Day, Charlie Parker, Deanna Durbin, Jamie Cullum, Etta James, The Temptations, and U2.

Night and Day;
You are the one;
Only you, beneath the moon, and under the sun;

Song structure[edit]

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.

Harmonic structure[edit]

"Night and Day" has unusual chord changes (the underlying harmony).

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 -75 (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.

In popular culture[edit]

In film:

On stage:

  • Gay Divorce (1932, Fred Astaire)
  • Gay Divorce (1933, Fred Astaire, Claire Luce) London revival
  • Cole (1974, 1: instrumental, 2: Kenneth Nelson) London
  • Happy New Year (1980, John McMartin, Michael Scott)
  • A Swell Party (1991, Angela Richards) London revue

On television:

In other media:

  • This song was mentioned in Stephen King's short story "1408".
  • This song is mentioned in the Little River Band 1978 song Reminiscing.
  • This song featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV on radio JNR – Jazz Nation Radio 108.5
  • This song featured in the video game Bioshock.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Cleveland Heights' Alcazar exudes exotic style and grace in any age". Cleveland Plan Dealer. Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  3. ^ Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854.  Tape 1, side A.
  4. ^ "ChartArchive - The Chart Archive". Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  5. ^ Miles, Barry (1998). The Beatles a Diary: An Intimate Day by Day History. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780711963153. 
  6. ^ "VGMDB - UPCI-1036 - American in Paris". Retrieved "25 June 2013".  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

External links[edit]