If Harold Arlen built a reputation for chronicling love on the rocks, Cole Porter gained lasting fame and the adulation of a grateful culture for his celebrations of successful romance. Oh, the man worked the cloudier side of the street, with “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” for instance, though if you’re in a position to say goodbye repeatedly the two of you must be doing something right. “Love for Sale” is no walk in the clouds and Porter built “Miss Otis Regrets” around a murder by a jilted lover.
Still, we venerate him more for asking us to use our mentality, for taking us on trips to the moon and for sharing the timeless advice to declaim a few lines from Othella. You could conduct a very long love affair, even a marriage, just quoting from him, and it would be years before you had to repeat yourself, which is more than must of us can say about our own relationships. That said, be careful about when you shout out, “You’re Ovaltine!”
In the new UIP book A Cole Porter Companion, a parade of performers and scholars offers essays on little-known aspects of the master tunesmith’s life and art. Here are Porter’s days as a Yale wunderkind and his nights as the exemplar of louche living; the triumph of Kiss Me Kate and shocking failure of You Never Know; and his spinning rhythmic genius and a turkey dinner into “You’re the Top” while cultural and economic forces take “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” in unforeseen directions. Other entries explore notes on ongoing Porter scholarship and delve into his formative works, performing career, and long-overlooked contributions to media as varied as film and ballet. Prepared with the cooperation of the Porter archives, A Cole Porter Companion is an invaluable guide for the fans and scholars of this beloved American genius.