Begin the Beguine

  • The Song
  • Back Stories
composition date
related media performance(s)
Artie Shaw performing Begin the Beguine
type: Movie
media: Video
Cole Porter
related performer(s)
Artie Shaw
Michael Feinstein

I just happened to like it

When Artie Shaw recorded the Jerry Gray arrangement at his first session for Victor, it got a tepid response. Shaw explained, “I just happened to like it so I insisted on recording it at this first session, in spite of the recording manager, who thought it a complete waste of time, and only let me make it after I had argued it would make a least a nice quiet contrast to the ‘Indian Love Call’ [on the B side]. That recording of that one little tune … was the real turning point in my life.”

It's not over?

Songwriter Cole Porter and librettist Moss Hart took an around-the-world cruise on the Franconia in order to write the musical Jubilee. While in the Dutch East Indies, Porter heard a native dance and was taken by its unique rhythm. He wrote “Begin the Beguine” and played it for Hart, who later admitted, “I had reservations about the length of the song. Indeed, I am somewhat ashamed to record that I thought it had ended when he was only halfway through playing it.”

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