Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Written for “Pal Joey”
Introduced by Jean Casto.
For the highly successful revival of the show the song was sung by Elaine Stritch
This song is one of the most admired by Hat’s scholars because is so full of cultural references and funny, witty (and sometimes risqué rhymes)
I’ve interviewed Leslie Howard.*
I’ve interviewed Noel Coward.
I’ve interviewed the great Stravinsky.
But my greatest achievement
Is the interview I had
With a star who worked for Minsky.
I met her at the Yankee Clipper
And she didn’t unzip one zipper.
I said, “Miss Lee, you are such an artist.
Tell me why you never miss.
What do you think of while you work?”
And she said, “While I work
My thoughts go something like this.”
Zip! Walter Lippmann wasn’t brilliant today.
Zip! Will Saroyan ever write a great play?
Zip! I was reading Schopenhauer last night.
Zip! And I think that Schopenhauer was right.
I don’t want to see Zorina.
I don’t want to meet Cobina.
Zip! I’m an intellectual.
I don’t like a deep contralto,
Or a man whose voice is alto.
Zip! I’m a heterosexual.
Zip! It took intelect to master my art.
Zip! Who the hell is Margie Hart?
Zip! I consider Dali’s painting passé .
Zip! Can they make the Metropolitan pay?
Zip! English people don’t say clerk, they say clark.**
Zip! Anybody who says clark is a jark!
I have read the great Kabala
And I simply worship Allah.
Zip! I am just a mystic.
I don’t care for Whistler’s Mother,
Charlie’s Aunt, or Shubert’s brother.
Zip! I’m misogynistic.
Zip! My intelligence is guiding my hand.
Zip! Who the hell is Sally Rand?
Zip! Toscanini leads the greatest of bands.***
Zip! Jergen’s Lotion does the trick for his hands.
Zip! Rip Van Winkle on the screen would be smart.
Zip! Tyrone Power will be cast in the part.
I adore the great Confucius,
And the lines of luscious Lucius.
Zip! I am so ecletic.
I don’t care for either Mickey-
Mouse and Rooney make me sicky!
Zip! I’m a little hectic.
Zip! My artistic taste is classic and dear.****
Zip! Who the hell’s Lili St. Cyr?
*Earlier versions of lines 1-2:
I’ve interviewed Pablo Picasso
And a countess named di Frasso.
**Earlier version of refrain 2, lines 3-4:
Zip! Hearing rhumba bands will drive me to drink.
Zip! Mrs. Perkins isn’t red, she’s just pink.
***Earlier version of refrain 3, line 1:
Zip! That Stokowski leads the greatest of bands.
****Earlier version of refrain 3, lines 11-12:
Zip! My artistic taste is classic and choice.
Zip! Who the hell’s Rosita Royce?
Celebrities quoted in the song:
Leslie Howard actor known for “Gone with the wild”
Noel Coward actor, songwriter, author
Igor Stravinsky russian musician
Minsky the four Minsky brothers: Abe Minsky (1878–1960); Billy Minsky (1887–1932); Herbert Minsky (1892-?); and Morton Minsky (1902–1987) owner of “Minsky’s Burlesque” a brand of burlesque
“star who worked for Minsky” of course this refers to Gypsy Rose Lee
Walter Lippmann columnist, writer
Will Saroyan dramatist and author
Arthur Schopenhauer german philosopher
Vera Zorina ballerina of George Balanchine
Cobina Wright actress who gained later fame as a hostess and a syndicated gossip columnist
Margaret Hart Ferraro stripper
Salvador Dalí spanish painter
Whistler’s Mother Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1, famous under its colloquial name Whistler’s Mother, is a painting in oils on canvas created by the American-born painter James McNeill Whistler in 1871
Charlie’s Aunt is a farce in three acts written by Brandon Thomas
Shubert’s brother theatrical managers and producers
Sally Rand stripper and fan dancer
Arturo Toscanini, Italian conductor, was one of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and 20th century
Jergens® Skincare Products Cincinnati based manufacturer of health and beauty skin care products including lotions, skin cleansers, facial cleansers and moisturizers
“Rip Van Winkle” is a short story by Washington Irving published in June 1819. In the story Rip, a young married Dutch American, alls asleep for twenty years. When he wakes and wanders back to his village, he is astonished by the changes that have taken place.
Tyrone Power famed american actor
Confucius, Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period.
Lucius Beebe was an American author, gourmand, photographer, railroad historian, journalist, and syndicated columnist. Columnist Walter Winchell referred to Beebe and his wardrobe as “Luscious Lucius.” Beebe’s sartorial splendor was recognized when he appeared in full formal day attire on the cover of Life over the title of “Lucius Beebe Sets a Style.”
Mickey Mouse cartoon character created by Walt Disney Studios
Mickey Rooney famed american actor
Lili St. Cyr famed American burlesque stripper. Lili St. Cyr is mentioned also in the musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The final line of the song “Don’t Dream It” is “God bless Lili St. Cyr!”
Pablo Picasso spanish painter
Cultural and popular references in the song
Yankee Clipper a famed restaurant in New York. During the late 30s and 40s it was one of the “in” places to eat.
I don’t like a deep contralto […] Hart wrote very few songs about homosexuality. A contralto is the deepest female classical singing voice, it’s not clear if with “contralto” he means a female with a very deep voice (i.e. a lesbian) or a “male contralto”, a man who sings in “falsetto”. In both case the line today may sounds quite homophobic (even if Hart was gay he never liked gay men, especially guys who were too effeminate)
Zip! I consider Dali’s painting passé […] in this song Hart is making fun of Gypsy Rose Lee’s way to srip. Miss Lee was famous for her onstage wit as for her strip style, she was “an intellectual stripper”: while she was doing her number she would say aloud witty and controversial sentences. Of course, at the time, Dali’s paintings were the most admired. Gypsy can be seen performing an abbreviated version of her act (intellectual recitation and all) in the 1943 film Stage Door Canteen.
Can they make the Metropolitan pay[…] The Metropolitan Opera Association of New York City, founded April 28, 1880, is a major presenter of all types of opera including Grand Opera. In 1932 the “Nonprofit Metropolitan Opera Association” assumed control of the opera house and the concept that opera could be made profitable was abandoned. In the 40s and 50s the Metropolitan became more profitable.
- Jane Krakowski adapts ‘Pal Joey’ song for generation tweet (latimesblogs.latimes.com)