Work: Lady, be Good: Fascinating rhythm
About This Work
This is one of Gershwin's most enduring songs, one which combines a catchy melody and clever lyrics with fascinating musical complexities. It is both polyrhythmic and polymetric (the accompaniment and melody often follow different rhythms and are in
different meters), and full of off-beat accents, but surprisingly enough, there are many moments when at least one part is in the standard, plain vanilla meter of 4/4.
The melodic line, while always logical, never random, changes at just the moment when the listener has grasped a particular pattern, forcing his or her concentration, and as often as not, leading to the result that the singer is complaining about, a rhythmic pattern is stuck in his or her head. To test just how insinuating this song is, try listening to it, and then speaking the lyrics in a normal speech pattern, without using the song's accents; the odds are you'll find it nearly impossible! In 1970, George Balanchine used it in his Gershwin ballet, "Who cares?," and it was one of that show's biggest hits.
-- Anne Feeney, All Music Guide
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