MUSIC MONDAY Ethel Merman and Bing Crosby Sing “You’re the Top” which is great song written by Cole Porter

Ethel Merman and Bing Crosby Sing “You’re the Top” which is great song written by Cole Porter


Ethel Merman and Bing Crosby Sing “You’re the Top”

You’re the Top

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You’re The Top” is a Cole Porter song from the 1934 musical Anything Goes. It is about a man and a woman who take turns complimenting each other. The best selling version was Paul Whiteman‘s Victor single, which made the top five.

It was the most popular song from Anything Goes at the start with hundreds of parodies.[1][2]

The lyrics are particularly significant because they offer a snapshot as to what was highly prized in the mid-1930s, and demonstrate Porter’s rhyming ability.

Some of the lyrics were re-written by P. G. Wodehouse for the British version of Anything Goes.

People and items referenced in the song

The following is a list of many of the references made in the song:

P. G. Wodehouse anglicised it for the British version of Anything Goes. Amongst other changes, he altered two lines from “You’re an O’Neill drama / You’re Whistler’s mama!” to “You’re Mussolini / You’re Mrs Sweeny“)[3][4]

Versions of the song

The “Washington vs. the Bunny” (season one, episode five) episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show features a version of the song performed for Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore) by her very young son Ritchie. In that version, Ritchie mistakenly alters the lyrics from “You’re the Mona Lisa” to “You’re the Mommy Lisa”.

The song played a major role in the M*A*S*H episode “The Joker Is Wild” whereupon the loser of a “jokeoff” in the 4077th had to sing the song without his bottoms (pants) in the mess hall. Alan Alda‘s character Hawkeye ultimately had to make good on said promise.

Also sung as the introduction by Paul Jones and arranged by Richard Rodney Bennett for the ITV series The Charmer starring Nigel Havers. Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka did a version of the song at the 2011’s gala of The Trevor Project[5]

A personalized version of this song was featured in season seven of Gilmore Girls, sung by Edward Herrmann and Kelly Bishop to their onscreen granddaughter played by Alexis Bledel in honor of her graduation from Yale. It features such lines as: “You’re the top/You’ve graduated. You’re the top/Your grandparents are elated.”


Porter biographer William McBrien wrote that at the height of its popularity in 1934 to 1935 it had become a “popular pastime” to create parodies of the lyrics.[2] Porter, who himself had called the song “just a trick” the public would get bored by[2] was flooded with hundreds of parodies with one reportedly written by Irving Berlin.[2] Despite the “ribald” nature of some of the parodies, McBrien believes few, including a “King Kong” parody were written by Porter or Berlin.[6]


  1. ^ Redmond, James (1981). Drama, Dance and Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-521-22180-1.
  2. ^ a b c d McBrien, William (1998). Cole Porter : a biography (1 ed.). New York: Knopf. pp. 169–171. ISBN 978-0-394-58235-1.
  3. ^ “Mayfair, the Duchess of Argyll and the Headless Man polaroids”. Another Nickel In The Machine. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  4. ^ Hoge, Warren (16 August 2000). “London Journal; A Sex Scandal of the 60’s, Doubly Scandalous Now”. The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  5. ^ “NPH and David Burtka singing Your The Top At Trevor Live”. YouTube. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
  6. ^ Noah, Timothy (18 June 2005). “Farewell to Berlin”. Slate Magazine. Retrieved 13 February 2012.

External links


From the movie “De Lovely” about Cole Porter:

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