The divine Cole Porter was born on this day in Peru, Indiana in 1891. Porter was among the greatest American popular songwriters of the pre-rock era. Though he wrote both words and music, he was most formally inventive with lyrics, to which he brought insouciant wit, high ironic sophistication, and healthy dose of good old American vernacular slang.
He left behind such a vast catalog of great songs that it was difficult to settle on just one to pick here. But since the Tonys are tonight and since Kiss Me, Kate may well be my favorite Broadway musical ever (at the very least, along with Gypsy and Guys and Dolls, it’s one of my top three), I decided to go with one of the songs from that show. I chose “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” because it’s one of the most brilliant. Here’s a great version of it — I believe the actors who perform it are from a terrific Broadway revival of KMK from the early ’00s that I was lucky enough to attend. This version has all the naughty parts that were cut out of the movie. Enjoy!