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A Very Larry Valentine: the Love Lyrics of Lorenz Hart

Christa Deitrick, Librarian, Literature & Fiction Department,
Photograph of Lorenz Hart
A Very Larry Valentine: the Love Lyrics of Lorenz Hart

The best lyricists are poets, albeit with a slightly different skill set.  Their goal is not to make the words sing upon the page, but rather to craft lines that can be sung in real life.  Like Shakespeare's plays, their couplets and stanzas are meant to be heard and not seen.  But song lyrics--love lyrics in particular--are also there to enhance a piece of music, to convey emotion and personality through song--in short, to tell a miniature story or add dimension to a larger one.

Of course, lyrics can be read as poetry, which is why we keep them here in the Literature & Fiction Department at the Central Library.  Since it's almost Valentine's Day, I thought it would be fun to post one of Larry's love lyrics every week in February.

Lorenz Hart (1895-1943) was one of the greatest lyricists of the twentieth century.  His partnership with composer Richard Rodgers resulted in some of the most enduring popular songs of all time, from Blue Moon and Isn't It Romantic to The Lady is a Tramp.  But Hart didn't cut a very romantic figure.  He was short (just under five feet tall) with dark-circled eyes, thinning hair, and a tendency to hide himself behind a cloud of cigar smoke.  Homosexual during a time when it was heavily stigmatized, the man who wrote such tender, deeply perceptive lyrics never had a satisfying love life of his own.  Although he reportedly considered himself to be lacking in personal appeal, the lyrics Larry left behind are of such beauty, originality and verve that he will surely be viewed in their brilliant light for many years to come.

On to our first song!

Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered became an instant classic when it was introduced in Rodgers & Hart's 1940 hit Broadway musical Pal Joey. The lyrics, while not vulgar, are sexually frank, sung by a woman who's been around the block but has finally (or yet again?) been hit by Cupid's arrow.  This song has been recorded by everyone from Doris Day to Lady Gaga, often in lyrically sanitized versions.  Read the original below and you'll see why!

 

Too steamy for the censors!  Rita Hayworth performs a "cleaned up" version of the song in the 1957 film version of Pal Joey.

 

 

 

Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered
lyrics by Lorenz Hart

After one whole quart of brandy,
Like a daisy I awake.
With no Bromo Seltzer handy,
I don't even shake.
Men are not a new sensation;
I've done pretty well, I think.
But this half-pint imitation
Put me on the blink.

I'm wild again,
Beguiled again,
A simpering, whimpering child again--
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.
Couldn't sleep
And wouldn't sleep
Until I could sleep where I shouldn't sleep--
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.
Lost my heart, but what of it?
My mistake, I agree.
He's a laugh, but I love it
Because the laugh's on me.
A pill he is,
But still he is
All mine and I'll keep him until he is
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered
Like me.

Seen a lot--
I mean a lot--
But now I'm like seventeen a lot--
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.
I'll sing to him,
Each spring to him,
And worship the trousers that cling to him--
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.
When he talks, he is seeking
Words to get off his chest.
Horizontally speaking,
He's at his very best.
Vexed again,
Perplexed again,
Thank God I can be oversexed again--
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I.

 

Now listen to it!  Click here to go to our Freegal page, where you can download many fabulous versions of this amazing song! 

 


 

 

 

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