Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday's Poetry: "Ten Cents a Dance"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

F. Scott Fitzgerald once referred to lyricist Lorenz Hart as "America's Poet Laureate."  And Hart, a long time partner of composer Richard Rodgers, did create come truly beautiful song lyrics in his time.   Some of Hart's songs have gone on to become classics and favorites of jazz singers such as the clever and witty "The Lady Is a Tramp," and the romantic "Bewitched" (Bothered and Bewildered).  Others, while still beautiful in their own right, have slipped into relative obscurity.

The following is one of those songs that has just sort of faded away.  "A Dime a Dance" is a sweet, yet sad, little refrain told from the point of view of a dancer who partners with strangers on the dance floor for a dime a dance.  It was written in 1930, shortly after the Wall Street crash and when America was just beginning to adjust to hard times.  The song originally aired in a Broadway musical, "Simple Simon," and was sung by Ruth Etting.  It has preserved a colorful bit of the history of tough times in America.


Ten Cents a Dance
by Lorenz Hart


I work at the palace ballroom
But gee, that palace is cheap
When I get back to my chilly hallroom
I'm much too tired to sleep


I'm one of those lady teachers
A beautiful hostess you know
One that the palace features
At exactly a dime a throw

Ten cents a dance
That's what they pay me
Gosh, how they weigh me down
Ten cents a dance
Pansies and rough guys
Tough guys who tear my gown

Seven to midnight I hear drums
Loudly the saxophone blows
Trumpets are tearing my ear drums
Customers crush my toes

Sometimes I think, I've found my hero
But it's a queer romance
All that you need is a ticket
Come on, big boy
Ten cents a dance

Fighters and sailors and bow-legged tailors
Can pay for their tickets and rent me
Butchers and barbers and rats from the harbors
Are sweethearts my good luck has sent me

Though I've a chorus of elderly bows
Stockings are porous with holes at the toes
I'm here till closing time
Dance and be merry, it's only a dime

Sometimes I think, I've found my hero
But it's a queer romance
All that you need is a ticket
Come on, come on big boy
Ten cents a dance

1 comment:

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