Monday, 16 December 2013

I rise above it, frankly love it

It seems the great and the good are dropping in droves - Eleanor, Peter, now Joan - so it's good to have a celebration for Noël Coward's birthday, as we do, every year.

The Master may have written his masterpiece Mad About The Boy about Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Ramon Novarro, Rudolf Valentino, Cary Grant or Tyrone Power, back in 1932.

However, given that Noël observed in 1962 "if Peter O'Toole had been any prettier, they would have had to call the film Florence of Arabia", I think today, of all days, we should dedicate it to him.

Here to perform it for us - and what a joy it is to discover this fabulous version! - is none other than [the ex of another of today's birthday boys Benny Andersson] Miss Anni-Frid Lyngstad:


From BytesDaily blog:
Noël Coward wrote the song for a 1932 London revue, Words and Music. The song concerns the unrequited love of the singer for a film star and, as originally written, it was sung by four different women who are queued outside a cinema, all pining for the matinee idol. For the New York Broadway version, Coward wrote additional verses that referred to gay feelings, effeminacy and conversion therapy. The verses ran foul of censorship laws and were never performed, references to homosexuality being forbidden.

The original lyrics are:

Mad about the boy
I know it's stupid to be mad about the boy
I'm so ashamed of it but must admit the sleepless nights I've had
About the boy

On the silver screen
He melts my foolish heart in every single scene
Although I'm quite aware that here and there are traces of the cad
About the boy

Lord knows I'm not a fool girl
I really shouldn't care
Lord knows I'm not a school girl
In the fury of her first affair

Will it ever cloy
This odd diversity of misery and joy
I'm feeling quite insane and young again
And all because I'm mad about the boy

So if I could employ
A little magic that will finally destroy
This dream that pains me and enchains me
But I can't because I'm mad...
I'm mad about the boy

One of the verses in the "straight" version is

Mad about the boy,
It's pretty funny
But I'm mad about the boy.
He has a gay appeal that makes me feel
There's maybe something sad about the boy.

The word “gay” did not become synonymous with homosexual for another three decades but, according to the Encyclopaedia Of Homosexuality, the phrase "gay cat" meaning "a homosexual boy" first appeared in print in 1933. It is therefore likely that the use of the word gay for homosexual was already in use and that the straight lyrics include in-jokes by Noël Coward.

The lyrics to the banned version are:

Mad about the boy
I know it’s silly
But I’m mad about the boy
And even Dr Freud cannot explain
Those vexing dreams
I’ve had about the boy

When I told my wife
She said
“I never heard such nonsense in my life!”
Her lack of sympathy
Embarrassed me
And made me frankly glad about the boy.

My doctor can’t advise me
He’d help me if he could
Three time he’s tried to psychoanalayse me
But it’s just no good

People I employ
Have the impertinence
To call me Myrna Loy
I rise above it
Frankly love it
‘Cos I’m absolutely
Mad about the boy
We have, here at Dolores Delargo Towers, a cover of the "gay" version by the late Peter Greenwell, but unfortunately no recording appears to be "out there" by The Master himself.

And there was only one Noël Coward, after all.


  1. I love that song but never knew it was written by Noel Coward. One can learn an awful lot by hanging around here. Happy Christmas if I don't see you or stop by to comment before then.

    1. I am pleased you find edification here, my dear - and season's greetings to you too! See you next year at the next Polari, hopefully... Jx


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