Featured Column
Week of 8.9.2004
"I get a kick out of you"
Cole Porter's music
           If you’re into rap music and you just love Pooh-Man, Puff-Daddy, Dr. Butcher or Dr. Dre turn the page or click delete because what follows is about a remarkable musician – one of the greatest, if not, THE greatest who ever lived.
           It has always been a source of wonder to me about what makes a genius. What was it about Albert Einstein that enabled him to create a picture of the universe that remains the basis for physics one hundred years later? What sparked Michelangelo when he created the Pieta, David or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? What magic flows inside great athletes like Jack Nicklaus, that enable them to set noble records that others chase in frustration?
           These are men who look like all men. Some were born in affluence, some to poverty. Some displayed their magical gifts early, others wait for decades before their creative genius is displayed.
           What is the supranatural spark that resides in those few that enables them to reach into our souls and know what we appreciate, what we love? What permits a Michelangelo to take chisel and hammer to a cold slab of marble and whittle it into a statue that millions of us find so compelling for millennium. By what fortune do these men gain the talents to have them rise above us all? I have yet to find common elements in these men of genius – other than they kept a childlike enthusiasm for what their genius enabled them to produce. 
           Perhaps America’s greatest musical virtuoso was Cole Porter. It mystifies that one man could produce the amount of music and lyric that emanated from Porter. His music has touched our souls and entertained us. We tap our toes to his tunes, we hum his collection of notes, we laugh, we cry, we are given hope by his music. 
           Porter was born in Indiana in 1891. He could play the violin when he was 6 and the piano when he was 8. At the age of 10 he composed a song. Cole Porter had the magical spark from the beginning.
           Porter wrote both lyrics and music for his songs – and he wrote them with such individuality that a genre known as “the Cole Porter song” became famous.
           The hallmark of a typical Cole Porter song were lyrics that were urbane and witty. There isn’t enough space here to list all of Porter’s creations, but we must be awed at the depth of his talents when we hear the words and music of “Night and Day,” “Begin the Beguine,” “Love for Sale,” “What is This Thing Called Love,” “Let’s Do It,” “You’re the Top,” “Just One of Those Things,” “From This Moment On,” “It’s All Right With Me,” and these are just a few of his almost 1,000 tunes.
           Porter, when asked how he could characterize his songs said, “I don’t know how my music gets that way.” I simply can’t analyze it.”
           The man wrote the scores for America’s greatest stage productions and movies. In 1948 he wrote the score for “Kiss Me Kate.” His Broadway scores included “Can-Can,” “Out of This World,” and “Silk Stockings.” For movies he wrote “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “Easy to Love” for “Born to Dance.” Other movie scores included “Rosalie” and “In the Still of the Night” for “Rosalie,” and “I Concentrate on You” for “Broadway Melody,” and “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” for “Something to Shout About.”
           Richard Rodgers said, about Cole Porter, “Few people realize how architecturally excellent his music is. There’s a foundation, a structure and an embellishment. Then you add the emotion he’s put in and the result is…Cole Porter!”
          Cole Porter died on October 15, 1964. Surely a thousand years from today residents of this blue globe will be singing Cole Porter songs and when the lights are dimmed, the candles lit and a man and a woman sit alone in the romantic darkness one can hear the miracle of “Night and Day” serenading them.
           Isn’t it “De-Lovely.”
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ron’s career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ron’s interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
Ron Cruger