Cole Porter

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Cole Porter (1891-1964) was a writer of songs and music for Broadway musical theater. He was famous for literate lyrics, complex rhymes, and sly double-entendres. Many of his songs have achieved the status of "standards." He is noted for his "list songs," long concatenations of surprising and humorous juxtapositions; examples include "You're the Top," "Let's Do It," and "Brush Up Your Shakespeare."

He was a graduate of Yale University and got his start writing songs for campus theatricals. Despite the apparently frivolous and light-hearted nature of his occupation, he was intensely serious about it and worked very hard.

With so many of his songs being familiar, it is hard to realize that many of them were difficult to "get" on first hearing. Porter found it frustrating that reviews of so many of his shows said that the songs in it were "not up to his usual standard," his usual standard, of course, being the songs in the preceding show which had, at the time, gotten similar reviews.

Porter's last big Broadway hit was Kiss Me, Kate, which was made into a motion picture (in 3D, although it is now rarely shown that way) and has had many revivals. It is a sort of adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, in which characters in a production of that play have experiences in their own lives that parallel those in the play. It includes one song, "I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple," in which Porter uses a passage from Shakespeare's play, without alteration, as the lyrics for the song.