I Get a Kick out of You: ‘the story behind …the story behind’
A 1930’s Cole Porter classic gets ‘the treatment’ in the latest BK video. But it’s a bit whacky… So what’s it all about?
…They say (whoever ‘they’ are), that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, though I guess this proverb’s normally applied to practical situations rather than artistic ones.
It was during a recent and ever-laborious session of video editing, that I felt the urge to produce a video of a truly *Big* Big Band number. We’d already recorded this one over in Stockholm, in the sessions for the album, however I was mortified to learn that there wasn’t really enough quality footage to do a video justice.
…ne’er but a few fairly tasty shots could be found – tho’ just enough I felt, to sketch out a humble beginning…
As coincidence would have it, I’ve long harbored vague thoughts of telling the ‘lesser known‘ story behind this one in film. It’s a great image, plus I don’t think a drama/comedy reconstruction of it has been done before – not in sync with the song at any rate (clearly no one’s daft enough… 😉
…and so it occurred to me that one or two cunningly positioned ‘extra sequences’ of new footage might just ‘kill two birds’ as they say, (wonder if it’s the same ‘they?’…) and wrestle this video back from my virtual cutting-room floor.
If nothing else, it would give me a rare opportunity to cavort down Manchester’s legendary Canal Street, in a slightly more than feeble attempt to show ‘the gays’ a thing or two about sartorial elegance.
So anyway, back to the song. ‘I Get a Kick’ is not only a stand-out Big Band classic, it’s also a superb example of the lyrical wizardry, and hidden meanings, which writer Cole Porter so often brought to his work.
…You see Cole Porter was indeed a very crafty songwriter – uncommon clever and wylier than a fox who’s …well, related to Pete Wylie actually. I describe him in the intro link as ‘surely the Morrissey of his Day?!’ but in truth, he was more than that …much more.
The fact that he was an habitual user of class A’s and a predatory homosexual, (at a time when this love really dared not speak its name), certainly makes him an interesting and unusually controversial celeb for those times, (but who am I kidding right?…)
But the force was most definitely strong with this one. Not satisfied with lurking in seedy shadows in his real life, it seems Cole Porter found a way to strike an early, if subtle blow for gay rights thru his very art. He actually wrote songs about his illicit peccadillos. Courting danger with every line, he literally gambled his future, even his freedom on a tune!
But who knew? (certainly not I – for most of us running around salivating over supposedly risqué song lyrics now, weren’t even born, in what must have seemed such safe and saccharine times artistically).
“I’ve Got you Under my Skin” ?? …surely a wonderfully lyrical ballad attesting to an intimate and, doubtless conventional romance? Well, not so my friends. When you re-present even the song’s title, as a metaphor for ‘mainlining’ narcotics, then other key lines such as “so deep in my heart – that you’re really a part of me” …and “I’d sacrifice anything, come what might – for the sake of having you near” start to take on a new, and altogether more eerie clarity.
…Which leads us nicely to today’s little video ditty:
“I Get a Kick out of You” ??
…well this was a known, quirky little upbeat expression (in popular use in this exact period), which referred to fairly innocent ‘amore’ right?…
Aha – Wrong again! In our Mr. Porter’s poetic remembrances, the very song title *again* is a metaphor for something far more literal.
(…and this is the point at which our little drama sequence ‘kicks in’ – pun intended… 😉
It is said that, on one dark and lonely night (after a few too many tipples) Porter, ‘sozzled’ and having yet again lost the battle with his then dangerous daemons, spied a handsome young devil, who he believed to be of similar orientation (you see – it’s 2014 and I’m still beating around the bush!… 😉
The line tells us “When I’m out on a quiet spree, fighting vainly the old ennui – and then I suddenly turn and see – your fabulous face…”
…And so Mr. P. approached the young gent, making lascivious advances towards him. Clearly on this fateful night, his Gay-Dar was most tragically ‘orf’ and with devastating repercussions. The young male ‘set about’ our Cole, who was beaten to the floor, and subsequently ‘Got a literal Kick’ out of him! (…the rest is, of course, music history).
It is this ‘artful-Dodgery’ which, as an (albeit errant) songwriter, draws me very much to Cole Porter’s work. I often wonder – was he in fact the first ever alternative songster? Of course that’s a complex and subjective argument but, if you consider alongside this, his immense musical gift and contribution (which we’re not really discussing here, as I’ve already wittered on way past 800 words), then it’s pretty easy to argue that he was an early front-runner of modern songwriting, and quite possibly, the greatest of all times!