Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: Ella Fitzgerald, “Begin the Beguine”

Jim’s prompt for today is "Begin/End/Finish/Start," which gives me an opportunity to reach into the Great American Songbook and choose another Cole Porter tune, "Begin The Beguine." Porter wrote this song on a Pacific cruise in 1935, and later it was included in the musical Jubilee.

Just for reference purposes, a beguine is a dance (or the music therefor), a sort of slow rhumba. It wasn’t especially popular when it first came out, because of its length and structure (the verses are all different, so the entire song is written straight through, with no repeats). The most popular version was an instrumental by Artie Shaw and his orchestra from 1940.

Ella Fitzgerald, of course, has sung the entire Great American Songbook, of which "Begin The Beguine" is a part. This is from her 1956 album Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook.

The lyrics, from AZLyrics:

When they begin the beguine
It brings back the sound of music so tender,
It brings back a night of tropical splendor,
It brings back a memory ever green.
I’m with you once more under the stars,
And down by the shore an orchestra’s playing
And even the palms seem to be swaying
When they begin the beguine.
To live it again is past all endeavor,
Except when that tune clutches my heart,
And there we are, swearing to love forever,
And promising never, never to part.
What moments divine, what rapture serene,
Till clouds came along to disperse the joys we had tasted,
And now when I hear people curse the chance that was wasted,
I know but too well what they mean;
So don’t let them begin the beguine
Let the love that was once a fire remain an ember;
Let it sleep like the dead desire I only remember
When they begin the beguine.
Oh yes, let them begin the beguine, make them play
Till the stars that were there before return above you,
Till you whisper to me once more,
Darling, I love you!
And we suddenly know What heaven we’re in,
When they begin the beguine

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday for November 15, 2020.

21 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: Ella Fitzgerald, “Begin the Beguine”

  1. Love your choice this week, especially as you picked the Ella version. Fantastic. By the way I didn’t see your song this week on Jim’s SLS page. I think you linked it to something else in his site, I had to go looking for you 😕 I’m glad I did 👍


    1. Thanks! I had written the post several days before Jim had the page ready, so I just had the link pointing at his home page with the idea that whenever he got around to putting up the SLS page I’d change it, and ended up blowing it off…

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    1. You musy have listened to both Artie Shaw and Ella. She does the standards like no other, and Artie Shaw led a tremendous band. Wonder what would have happened if she sang with his band?

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