Night and Day (song)


Night and Day (song)

"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.

Porter was known to claim that the Islamic call to worship he heard on a trip to Morocco inspired the song.[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.

Contents

Notable recordings

"Night and Day" has been recorded many times, notably by Bill Evans, Art Tatum, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, Ringo Starr, Sondre Lerche, Doris Day, Deanna Durbin, Jamie Cullum, Etta James, and U2.

Sinatra recorded the song over 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 even a disco version with Joe Beck in 1977.

Dionne Warwick recorded it for her 1990 album Dionne Warwick Sings Cole Porter.

Shirley Bassey recorded it for her 1959 album The Bewitching Miss Bassey.

Doris Day recorded it for her 1958 album Hooray for Hollywood.

Fitzgerald's most celebrated recording of the song occurred on her 1956 album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook.

Everything But the Girl chose this song for their first single in 1983.

The song was recorded by Ringo Starr in 1970 for his first solo album Sentimental Journey. It was then recorded in 1982 as a one-off collaboration between Tracey Thorn with student friend Ben Watt as Everything But The Girl; subsequently the duo became a well-established pop act.

The rock/jam band Phish has played the song live only once in their 20 plus year career: at a private wedding on August 12, 1989.

The song was recorded by U2 in 1990 and appeared on the Red Hot + Blue compilation album. Thomas Anders (of Modern Talking fame) recorded his version in 1997 on the album Live Concert. Chicago added a version in 1995 on their return-to-their-roots-disc, Night & Day: Big Band; Rod Stewart recorded a version for his 2004 album Stardust: the Great American Songbook 3. A rendition was also recorded by The Temptations, which was featured on the soundtrack of the 2000 movie What Women Want.

"Night and Day" also reappeared on the American pop charts in 1967, done by Sérgio Mendes and Brasil '66.

In 2004 a version of "Night and Day" was included in the biographical film about Cole Porter, De-Lovely, sung by John Barrowman and Kevin Kline. The song was also recorded in 2005 by Sondre Lerche on his album Duper Sessions. In 2007 it was recorded by Bebel Gilberto with a bossa nova approach on her album Momento.

Allan Sherman's 1965 album Allan in Wonderland included a version, with Porter's music and words unchanged, but "With Punctuation Marks Included, so it starts like this:

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

Victor Borge was better known for verbal punctuation than was Sherman, but in the case of this song, Borge would start playing Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" op. 27, with its opening left-hand octave, and then would begin playing the three right-hand notes, seguéing into the beginning of "Night and Day".

Little River Band references the song in their song Reminiscing. One line of the song states "And the Porter tune/Made us dance across the room", while in the background the backup singers sing the words "Night and Day".

Song structure

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 6 sections of 8 bars — ABABCB — with section C representing the bridge.

Harmonic structure

"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.

Some have seen the use of repeated notes in the verse as an indication of the singer's obsession.

In popular culture

  • This song was mentioned in Stephen King's short story "1408".
  • This song is also featured in the video game Bioshock.
  • This song is also featured in an episode of The Cosby Show, season 2, episode 3.

See also

  • List of 1930s jazz standards

References

External links


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