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Ira-nies

December 03, 1988

A quote in Janice Arkatov's otherwise lovely article on pianist/singer Michael Feinstein misrepresented one of Ira Gershwin's couplets from "Embraceable You" ("Fast-Rising Cabaret Star in Tune With Music of the '30s," Nov. 25).

The rhyme is not "But hang it, you'll shout 'encore' of our love / Ding-dang it, come on, let's glorify love." It's "But hang it--Come on, let's glorify love / Ding dang it, you'll shout 'Encore!' if I love!"

I run the risk of coming off as the couplet curmudgeon only because Ira would never have written the line as quoted. Like Lorenz Hart and Cole Porter and Yip Harburg, Ira could not abide an imperfect rhyme (unless deliberately imperfect for comic effect).

Like Hart, Ira came to lyric writing in the early '20s with a highly critical view of the clumsiness and inanity of most song lyrics (and it was Ira, along with Hart, who most elevated song lyrics throughout the '20s).

This is, after all, the man who wrote a 1923 article in the New York Sun entitled, "If You Want to Know What Rimes With 'Home' Besides 'Alone,' Tin Pan Alley Wants You."

HAROLD MEYERSON

Los Angeles

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