Pin It
Favorite

Nice Works, If You Get Them 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & ho's Ira Gershwin, you ask? Uh, only like the best lyricist of all time. The relatively unheralded partner and older brother of composer George Gershwin penned, throughout his lifetime, some incredibly catchy and popular tunes that managed to touch on absolutely every trope in the pop canon. Think you can come up with a contemporary song that tackles a topic the Gershwin brothers missed? We defy you to try.


Don't come with the jilted-lover conceit -- Ira did that dozens of times, most notably in "A Woman Is a Sometimes Thing." Good love, bad love, inconstant love -- the Gershwins handled it. No, you're going to have to dig way deeper into modernity to have any hope of catching the Gershwins napping.


How about Three 6 Mafia's Oscar-winning track, "It's Hard Out There for a Pimp"? Surely pimpin' wasn't really the Gershwin's steez ... or was it? Three 6's lament -- "I'm tryin' to get rich 'fore I leave up out this bitch / I'm tryin to have thangs but it's hard fo' a pimp" -- is a fairly original sentiment, and might be a challenge ... if Ira hadn't already spoken to a far more universal pop standard, one that easily encompasses every pimping angle. In "Nice Work if You Can Get It," he wrote that "The man who only lives for making money / Lives a life that isn't necessarily sunny."


All right, so how about a little pervy exhibitionism? Nice thought, but Ira's been there. Christina Aguilera's "Dirty," which so shocked the moral center of our great nation, has an analogue in the Gershwins' "How Long Has This Been Going On?" Compare Christina's "Too dirty to clean my act up / If you ain't dirty / You ain't here to party (woo!) ... / Somebody ring the alarm / A fire on the roof" to Gershwin's "When I trotted in little velvet panties / I was kissed by my sisters, my cousins, and my aunties / Sad to tell, it was hell, an inferno worse than Dante's." That's pretty much the exact same song, so far as we're concerned.


The Brothers nailed all aspects of pop so thoroughly that they even foresaw the coming of one of modern music's more dubious creations, the hip-hop skit. Their classic American folk opera, Porgy and Bess, features a cast of fully-enfleshed, black characters, much like the halls of hip-hop. Also strikingly similar, though, the only white people in the Gershwins' adaptation, as with modern hip-hop (Eminem, Apathy, Bubba Sparxxx excluded) appear only briefly and in stereotypically white professions (a lawyer, a beat cop, a detective) and are written flatly and without nuance.


So no -- as a matter of fact -- there isn't anything new under the sun, especially when you're trying to create under the same sun as George and Ira Gershwin.





"Rhapsody in Blue: The Music of George Gershwin" features Charlotte Carruthers with the Spokane Jazz Orchestra at the Met on Friday, May 5, at 8 pm. Tickets: $21.50-$26.50. Visit www.ticketswest.com or call 325-SEAT.
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Class Act
  • Class Act

    Seeing through money differences can build relationships focused on fairness
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Don's Ultimate Con
  • Don's Ultimate Con

    Trail Mix: Trump's birther problems and Johnson's polls
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Transparent Motives
  • Transparent Motives

    One candidate's an open book; the other is shrouded in secrecy. Guess which one isn't transparent enough
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Valleyfest

Valleyfest @ Mirabeau Park Meadows

Through Sept. 25

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


trail mix


Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Give Him a Talk Show
  • Give Him a Talk Show

    Some of the far left's fairy tales are as unbelievable as the far right's
    • Mar 18, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation