7 January 2014
Post 108: 'MY HEART BELONGS TO DADDY'
My Heart Belongs To Daddy is another great composition by Cole Porter and, as usual with his work, you don’t have to look far to see what a genius the man was. And note that, unlike so many composers of his time, Cole Porter wrote his own lyrics as well as the music.
This song is conventional up to a point: it is in 32 bars, consisting of four 8-bar segments. But they are not in the common pattern A – A – B – A, with B as a ‘middle eight’.
Cole Porter’s structure is A – A – B (minor harmonies) – B (major harmonies).
For the purpose of my examples, I will put the tune in the key of D minor, which suits it well.
Section A is mainly in the lower reaches of the scale, exploiting the minor sounds for a sly, mischievous, teasing effect. This of course perfectly suits the words (in which the lady tells us how she flirts with her golf caddie).
There are distinctive, catchy rhythms in these eight bars; and note the crotchet triplets – they are a feature of this song; Cole Porter uses more than a dozen of them.
Next Cole Porter repeats the eight bars exactly, while the lady tells us about another young man she teases when she invites him to a meal. The repetition of melody and rhythm have by now made her point well and insinuated themselves into our heads. Already, it is a tune we shall not forget.
So, we’re half way through. What next? Maybe a middle eight essentially in F and then back to the original bars again for the final eight?
Oh dear, no. The melody soars to a high F, supporting the words Yes, my heart belongs to Daddy, so I simply couldn’t be bad.....
But note that the D minor harmony still suggests the teasing.
Then, a big surprise: the final eight bars copy the rhythm and structure of this third eight, but the leap up is to F sharp rather than F natural, and the harmony moves briefly from minor to major – making this a great affirmation - on the words I want to warn you, Laddie..... (!):
I guess this trick of having a melody line in a minor key and then dramatically switching it to major is a favourite of Cole Porter’s. Recall how the whole of I Love Paris is based on this strategy.
Note, too, how My Heart Belongs to Daddy ends firmly back in D minor, again matching the tone of this archly-witty composition.
I think this song would be good as a test piece for aspiring pop singers. Not only does it require a presentation and expression to fit the mood. It also calls for considerable vocal skills. The singer needs to be good on those lower notes but also capable of the leaps to nearly an octave and a half above. So she needs a good range. On top of all, she has to get the intonation exactly right, and this is a special challenge with that high F sharp (the sudden switch to the major) that starts the final eight. Having just sung the previous eight with a jump to F natural, she now has to adjust to singing F sharp. I bet there are very few singers who would be ‘spot on’ with that.
What a song!
The delightful picture at the top of this article, by the way, was painted by my friend the Leicester artist Peter Bunney. You can learn more about him at: