Because it makes me happy

I was actually looking for “Brush Off Up Your Shakespeare” cause it’s brilliant plus it’s clearly inspired by Damon Runyon who published many of his best stories in the 1930s and is thus within the period of my next novel, which makes it vaguely research-ish. Not to mention Runyon’s stories are almost all set in NYC. A highly imaginary NYC, I grant you, but still.

(Er, for those who don’t know my next novel is set in NYC in the 1930s. I’m only reading and watching and listening to 1930s stuff until the novel is written. I’m being extremely strict about it except for sometimes my interpretation of “1930s” gets a teeny tiny bit elastic.)

Sadly, I could not find a version of that genius song that I liked well enough to share with you. I know for some of you this might have been the first time you’d heard “Brush Off Up Your Shakespeare” and that experience must be PERFECT! (Especially for the Corialanus line.) So instead I’ve opted for “Always True To You In My Fashion”.

It’s also from Kiss Me Kate and thus also written by the fabulous Cole Porter (who wrote many of his best songs in the 1930s) and I love it muchly. It’s relevant to my research on account of I do believe there might have been women who were occasionally unfaithful in the 1930s and, um, it was written in 1948, which is not that far off the early 1930s.

Oh, never mind just enjoy:

Aren’t Ann Miller and Tommy Rall darling?

And just to push this slightly closer to the 1930s: have some lindy hopping featuring Frankie Manning. Yes, this footage is from 1941 but the lindy hop was invented in the 1930s 1920s, okay?

I have a couple of dancing fool friends, Lauren and Margaret, who say that I really need to learn the lindy hop in order to write my book properly. But don’t you all think that’s a little bit extreme? I would have to have a mighty big incentive to go that far!


  1. Malcolm Tredinnick on #

    A “teeny bit elastic”?! Ma’am, one of those videos was from 1953! There was a whole world war in between the 1930’s and then. Children born in the early 1930’s were having their own children in 1953. That’s not being elastic. That’s simply breaking the rules.

    The lindy hop looks like fun, at least when other people do it. Maureen Johnson is going to have the moral high ground after learning to trapeze. You might need to do something like this to catch up.

  2. Icy Roses on #

    I played in the pit for my school’s Kiss Me Kate production last year! Brush Up Your Shakespeare was one of my favorite songs. What a fabulous musical!

  3. Susan Adrian on #

    This is just a fangirl squee for Cole Porter, whom I love. 🙂


  4. Hope on #

    Justine, I learned lindy hop five years ago and it is the MOST fun. Most of us don’t do the ‘Hellzapoppin’ routine (although I have seen it reproduced by real live people–awe-inspiring!), or even a lot of aerials (the flinging and jumping stuff). It’s athletic, energizing and in my town, mostly danced to 30s music.

    And you’re even in Frankie Manning’s territory half the year; couldn’t be a better place to get started.

    You should give it a try!

  5. Belynda on #

    Not that I would *ever* promote the idea of downloading music illegally.. but there just *might* be a collection of all sorts of music from the 1930’s up on Pirate Bay… besides I don’t think the RIAA could smack you down for DL’ing something that’s in the public domain now anyway.

    Last year I started working on a novel set in the 1930s & 1940s, and since a lot of music from the late 30’s would still have been popular 5-10 years on (think of all the 80s and 90s music we adore!) it could be helpful, and certainly enjoyable!

    Hope tha helps!

  6. Belynda on #

    (p.s. thank you in advance for ignoring my shoddy typing!)

  7. bookwormchris on #

    Wow, that is some frenzied dancing. Fun to watch, but I would probably kill myself trying to replicate those moves.

  8. Liset on #

    It’s Frankincense from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!
    You gotta love that Tommy Rall!

  9. Justine on #

    Icy Roses: Is a fabulous song.

    Susan Adrian: Cole Porter is always worth a squee. Duke Ellington likewise!

    Hope: Several friends are on my case to learn 1930s swing dancing, especially the lindy hop. But I am standing firm! I has two left feet!

    Belynda: Speak for yourself about adoring 80s-90s music. I’ve always been more of a 30s-40s girl.

  10. Casey on #

    I just have to say, I absolutely adore Cole Porter. And I agree with you that his best songs were in the 30s! I still think that Night and Day is one of the most beautiful songs ever written – also I’ve Got You Under My Skin and anything from Anything Goes. 🙂 There’s a fantastic album on iTunes of Ella Fitzgerald singing most of his songs.

  11. Aja on #

    Hi, Justine!

    The song title is actually “Brush UP Your Shakespeare,” and if you don’t mind my linking, this is my favorite performance of it!

    (And I can’t resist having a gratuitous love-in for Damon Runyon, for along with Hammett he is my *favorite favorite*. And without him, the world might never have heard Marlon Brando sing. <3)

  12. Lauren McLaughlin on #

    I stand by my conviction that you should learn the lindy hop. I shan’t read your book unless you do.

  13. Kiera on #

    Justine~ I think your problem finding versions of the song may be because I believe it’s actually called Brush UP your Shakespeare. Although I just saw a comment saying that. I’m too late =[

  14. cristina on #

    Your friends are wise, you should listen to them. You NEED to learn the lindy hop!
    I mean, is it not a GREAT incentive to write your book properly? Besides its all SCIENCE*!

    let me explain, the lindy hop increases blood flow in the brain. If brain has good blood flow then it’s pleased. If brain is pleased, then it produces book. If brain produces book we are all happy. SEE its the KEY to happiness!! Therefore you should dance!!

    It’s also scientifically proved* that the lindy hop’s benefits are dramatically increased when dance is videotaped and then posted on youtube.

    *Scientific study was perfomed by the ME agency.

  15. Justine on #

    Aja & Keira: Up, off, whatever. Youtube still doesn’t have the version from the movie. *kicks youtube*

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