It Used to Be Easier to Write Songs About Getting Away From It All

Since I’ve been listening to a lot of Gene Krupa and Anita O’Day lately, I’ve enjoyed their version of the 1941 song “Let’s Get Away From It All.”  You might know the tune, though, from Frank Sinatra’s Top 10 hit version with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra from 1941.  If you don’t know it, give it a listen.  Sinatra’s voice was appealingly different then, with less swagger than his later Vegas years.

In addition to enjoying lyricist Tom Adair’s clever rhyme of “kayak” and “Nyack” (a town in New York), these lines of his also got me thinking:

We’ll travel ’round from town to town / We’ll visit ev’ry state /I’ll repeat “I love you, Sweet!” / In all the forty eight

Remember that Alaska and Hawaii didn’t become the 49th and 50th states until 1959.  Arizona became the 48th state in 1912.  So between 1912 and 1959, geography-minded lyricists had an easier time rhyming about romantic getaways: eight, state, great, first-rate, hot date, don’t be late, please wait,  soul mate, etc.  The possibilities were wide open!  But since 1959, if you wanted to write about the United States, you might have had to rhyme “fifty” with “nifty.”  Pretty limiting, eh?  Or how about these clunky lines I’ve made up?  

“Let’s have an ambiguous sort-of date / around the lower contiguous forty-eight.”

Pretty contrived, eh?  So, for the rhyming poets and romantic lyricists of our great and nifty nation, I propose we grant statehood to a couple more territories.   “Fifty-two” will lend itself to so many good rhymes.

— Tim


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5 responses to “It Used to Be Easier to Write Songs About Getting Away From It All

  1. I love Sinatra, and early Sinatra is definitely different! Love the version of that song with Sinatra & Connie Haines–whatever happened to her? Research question…

    • I love researching folks from that era, Maria! Connie “The Snootie Little Cutie” Haines died in 2008 at the age of 87. Her career was most prolific in the 1940s and 50s, starting with Harry James and then partnering with Sinatra to sing for Tommy Dorsey’s Orchestra (where she sang the above mentioned “Let’s Get Away From It All.” She also had radio appearances with other big names of the era such as Abbott & Costello and movies such as Duchess of Idaho with Esther Williams. She eventually moved into gospel music. — Tim

  2. lizzy

    My grandparents’ tune was Let the Rest of the World Go By. One of the few I actually learned how to play on the piano!

  3. Haha, very funny point and true! dano

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