Harman Patil (Editor)

Night and Day (song)

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Cole Porter

"Night and Day" is a popular song by Cole Porter. It was written for the 1932 musical play Gay Divorce. It is perhaps Porter's most popular contribution to the Great American Songbook and has been recorded by dozens of artists.


Fred Astaire introduced "Night and Day" on stage, and his recording of the song with the Leo Reisman orchestra was a #1 hit, topping the charts of the day for ten weeks. He performed it again in the 1934 film version of the show, renamed The Gay Divorcee, and it became one of his signature pieces.

There are several accounts on how Porter got inspiration to compose the song. One mentions that he was inspired by Islamic prayer when he visited Morocco. Another popular legend has it he was inspired by the Moorish architecture of the Alcazar Hotel in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

The song was so associated with Porter, that when Hollywood first filmed his life story in 1946, the movie was entitled Night and Day.

Notable recordings

"Night and Day" has been recorded many times, notably by Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Eartha Kitt, Eddy Duchin, Charlie Barnet, Bill Evans, Art Tatum, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, Sondre Lerche, Doris Day, Charlie Parker, Deanna Durbin, Jamie Cullum, Etta James, The Temptations, U2 and The Rhythm Future Quartet

  • Frank Sinatra recorded the song at least five times including with Axel Stordahl in his first solo session in 1942 and again with him in 1947, with Nelson Riddle in 1956 for A Swingin' Affair!, with Don Costa in 1961 for Sinatra and Strings, and even a disco version with Joe Beck in 1977. When Harry James heard a then-unknown Sinatra sing this song, he signed him. Sinatra's 1942 version charted in the USA reaching the No. 16 spot.
  • Damia recorded one of the earliest versions in 1933, in French, entitled "Tout le Jour, Toute la Nuit."
  • Layton & Johnstone recorded the song in 1933 (Columbia FB 1218).
  • Bing Crosby recorded the song on February 11, 1944 and it appeared in the Billboard charts briefly in 1946 with a peak position of No. 21.
  • Dionne Warwick recorded it for her 1990 album Dionne Warwick Sings Cole Porter.
  • Eartha Kitt, the inscrutable songstress, recorded it in 1991—but the song would not be released until 2000 on the much lauded album Thinking Jazz. While the words in her arrangement remain the same, the opening lines are purred instead of sung.
  • Tony Bennett recorded the song for his 1992 Frank Sinatra tribute album Perfectly Frank.
  • Shirley Bassey recorded it for her 1959 album The Bewitching Miss Bassey.
  • Doris Day recorded it for her 1958 album Hooray for Hollywood.
  • Ella Fitzgerald's most celebrated recording of the song occurred on her 1956 album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook.
  • Tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson recorded a version of the song for his 1965 album Inner Urge.
  • Allan Sherman's 1965 album Allan in Wonderland included a version, with Porter's music and words unchanged, but with punctuation marks included, so it starts like this:
  • Tuxedomoon covered the song on their 1978 EP, No Tears.
  • Everything But the Girl chose this song for their first single in 1983. It made #92 in August 1982.
  • The song was recorded by Ringo Starr in 1970 for his first solo album Sentimental Journey.
  • The rock/jam band Phish has played the song live only once in their more than 20-year career: at a private wedding on August 12, 1989.
  • The song was recorded by U2 in 1990 and appeared on the Red Hot + Blue compilation album.
  • Thomas Anders (of Modern Talking fame) recorded his version in 1997 on the album Live Concert. Chicago added a version in 1995 on their return-to-their-roots-disc, Night & Day: Big Band; A rendition was also recorded by The Temptations, which was featured on the soundtrack of the 2000 movie What Women Want.
  • "Night and Day" also reappeared on the American pop charts in 1967, done by Sérgio Mendes and Brasil '66.
  • Rod Stewart recorded a version for his 2004 album Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Volume III.
  • In 2004 a version of "Night and Day" was included in the biographical film about Cole Porter, De-Lovely, sung by John Barrowman and Kevin Kline. The song was also recorded in 2005 by Sondre Lerche on his album Duper Sessions. In 2007 it was recorded by Bebel Gilberto with a bossa nova approach on her album Momento.
  • Joe Hisaishi conducted his arrangement of the song with Lady Kim and the New Japan Philharmonic World Dream Orchestra in 2005.
  • In 2009 Mark Isham & Kate Ceberano recorded a version for their Bittersweet album.
  • Victor Borge was better known for verbal punctuation than was Sherman, but in the case of this song, Borge would start playing Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" op. 27, with its opening left-hand octave, and then would begin playing the three right-hand notes, seguéing into the beginning of "Night and Day".
  • Little River Band references the song in their song "Reminiscing". One line of the song states "And the Porter tune/Made us dance across the room", while in the background the backup singers sing the words "Night and Day".
  • Liz Madden & Nigel Clark recorded an acoustic version for their 2014 collaborative album "Sunset Songs".
  • Swing revivalists the Cherry Poppin' Daddies recorded a version for their 2016 album The Boop-A-Doo.
  • The Rhythm Future Quartet recorded an instrumental version oriented to Gypsy Jazz for their 2015 homonym album "Rhythm Future Quartet"
  • Song structure

    The construction of "Night and Day" is unusual for a hit song of the 1930s. Most popular tunes then featured 32-bar choruses, divided into four 8-bar sections, usually with an AABA musical structure, the B section representing the bridge.

    Porter's song, on the other hand, has a chorus of 48 bars, divided into six sections of eight bars—ABABCB—with section C representing the bridge.

    Harmonic structure

    "Night and Day" has unusual chord changes (the underlying harmony).

    The tune begins with a pedal (repeated) dominant with a major seventh chord built on the flattened sixth of the key, which then resolves to the dominant seventh in the next bar. If performed in the key of B, the first chord is therefore G major seventh, with an F (the major seventh above the harmonic root) in the melody, before resolving to F7 and eventually B maj7.

    This section repeats and is followed by a descending harmonic sequence starting with a -75 (half diminished seventh chord or Ø) built on the augmented fourth of the key, and descending by semitones—with changes in the chord quality—to the supertonic minor seventh, which forms the beginning of a more standard II-V-I progression. In B, this sequence begins with an EØ, followed by an E-7, D-7 and D dim, before resolving onto C-7 (the supertonic minor seventh) and cadencing onto B.

    The bridge is also unusual, with an immediate, fleeting and often (depending on the version) unprepared key change up a minor third, before an equally transient and unexpected return to the key centre. In B, the bridge begins with a D major seventh, then moves back to B with a B major seventh chord. This repeats, and is followed by a recapitulation of the second section outlined above.

    The vocal verse is also unusual in that most of the melody consists entirely of a single note—the same dominant pedal, that begins the body of the song—with rather inconclusive and unusual harmonies underneath.

    In film:

  • The Gay Divorcee (1934, sung by Fred Astaire; danced by Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers)
  • The Singing Marine (1937)
  • Now, Voyager (1942)
  • Action in the North Atlantic (1943, Julie Bishop dubbed by Martha Mears)
  • Destination Tokyo (1943)
  • The Hard Way (1943, instrumental)
  • Reveille with Beverly (1943, Frank Sinatra)
  • Lady on a Train (1945, Deanna Durbin)
  • Night and Day (1946)
  • Desk Set (1957, Katharine Hepburn)
  • Evil under the Sun (1982)
  • Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
  • Radio Days (1987)
  • September (1987, Art Tatum, Ben Webster, Red Callender, Bill Douglass)
  • The Rocketeer (1991)
  • Jumanji (1995)
  • Le Jour et la nuit aka Day and Night (1997, Ella Fitzgerald)
  • Dream for an Insomniac (1998, Frank Sinatra)
  • The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998, Fred Astaire)
  • What Women Want (2000, The Temptations)
  • De-Lovely (2004, John Barrowman, Kevin Kline)
  • The instrumental version appears on the soundtrack of Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009).
  • On stage:

  • Gay Divorce (1932, Fred Astaire)
  • Gay Divorce (1933, Fred Astaire, Claire Luce) London revival
  • Cole (1974, 1: instrumental, 2: Kenneth Nelson) London
  • Happy New Year (1980, John McMartin, Michael Scott)
  • A Swell Party (1991, Angela Richards) London revue
  • On television:

  • Ford Star Jubilee: You’re the Top (1956, George Chakiris, Sally Forrest) CBS.
  • Are You Being Served, 1977, BBC.
  • The Muppet Show (1981, The Mummies) Episode 112.
  • Highlander (1995, Tamara Gorski) Canadian TV, Season 3, Episode 11: "Vendetta".
  • Friends (1997, Frank Sinatra) NBC sitcom Season 4, Episode 4 "The One with the Ballroom Dancing".
  • Chocolate com Pimenta (2003, Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Bregman Orchestra) Brazilian TV.
  • The Cosby Show, season 2, episode 3.
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, season 15, episode 16.
  • In other media:

  • This song was mentioned in Stephen King's short story "1408".
  • This song is mentioned in the Little River Band 1978 song "Reminiscing".
  • This song featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV on radio JNR – Jazz Nation Radio 108.5
  • This song is featured in the video game BioShock.
  • Joe Jackson's 1982 studio album was named Night And Day in homage to Porter and represented a move away from punk/pop music to a more sophisticated, American-influenced style. He repeated the homage with Night and Day II in 2000.
  • References

    Night and Day (song) Wikipedia