American Icons: Anything Goes


Friday, May 16, 2014

American Icons: Anything Goes

This is our anthem to being naughty.

Before Broadway musicals got serious about West Side gangs or Fleet Street barbers, Cole Porter entertained audiences with frothy tales of socialites, gangsters, and nightclub singers. Anything Goes was his biggest hit, and while it's something of a period piece, the title song took on a life of its own, thanks to Frank Sinatra. It celebrates liberation from social constraints — or what some would call a disgraceful slipping of standards. "We have something called the First Amendment that says that we can do most of what we want," says historian Laurence Maslon. "And yet there's this Puritan streak in America that says, you can't do that, that offends me."

Today Porter’s lyrics about short hemlines, women smoking, and four-letter words feel quaint. To capture the sense of danger and titillation the song had in 1934, Studio 360 presents an update for the age of sexting, bailouts, and fries with bacon. (lyrics by Joe Keenan; performed by Bryan Batt, accompanied by Jesse Reeks on piano)

(Originally aired: September 13, 2013)


Bonus Track: "Anything Goes" revamped

Written by Joe Keenan and performed by Bryan Batt — read the full lyrics below.


Interview: Mel Brooks on seeing Anything Goes for the first time


Video: "Anything Goes" in the opening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom


Video: Patty LuPone performs "Anything Goes" at the 1988 Tonys


Bonus: Joe Keenan's updated lyrics to "Anything Goes"

Times have changed.
Porter’s ditty was once risqué
But if Porter could see today
And decorum’s complete decay,
He would say,
“Though the Thirtie’s were hot as hell,
Everything that went then still goes ...
And a whole lot else as well!”

When gays can wed, and jaws aren’t dropping
When Barney and Ben go shopping for baby clothes,
Anything goes!

When dames as dim as Kim Kardashian
Triumph by acting trashy in tawdry shows,
Anything goes

The smut you can get today
On the 'net today,
Straight or gay today,
And all day today,
‘Cause burlesque today 
Is on your desk today,
Where nobody can oppose.

When girls of ten are adolescing
And proving the point by dressing like tiny ho’s,
Anything goes!

When grandma’s face is pulled so tightly
She looks like a Keira Knightley whose eyes won’t close,
Anything goes!

When stars whose thoughts are far from clever 
Are tweeting their fans whenever they blow their nose,
Anything goes. 

If airing your views you like
On Fox News you like,
If tattoos you like,
Or girls’ shoes you like,
If rendezvous you like
With Tom Cruise you like,
Just say you won’t disclose!

When Cary Grants and Spencer Traceys
Have turned into Kevin Spaceys and Russell Crowes
Anything goes!

When fast food chains serve fries with bacon
To folks who could be mistaken for buffaloes
Anything goes.

When half the nations filled with rancor
From living in homes their banker will soon foreclose,
Anything goes.

Though banks are all crooks today
With cooked books today,
When they fail today
They get bailed today,
And those banks today
Are saying, “thanks!” today
As their bonus pool just grows.

When men of god who preach with thunder
Are looking for fun with underage romeos,
Anything goes!

— anything? —
Everything goes! 

    Music Playlist
  1. Rock Your Body
    Artist: Justin Timberlake
    Album: Justified
    Label: Jive
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Anything Goes
    Artist: Brad Mehldau
    Album: Anything Goes
    Label: Nonesuch
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Anything Goes
    Artist: Frank Sinatra
    Album: Songs for Swinging Lovers
    Label: Capitol
    Purchase: Amazon
  4. Anything Goes
    Artist: Stephane Grappelli
    Album: Jazz In Paris - Plays Cole Porter
    Label: SSC
    Purchase: Amazon


Bryan Batt, Julia Foulkes, Will Friedwald, Joe Keenan and Laurence Maslon

Produced by:

Eric Molinsky


David Krasnow

Comments [4]

Phil Z from Nashville

Outstanding Joe Keenan - Thank you! You summed it up so very well.
And a great story about a great song.

May. 18 2014 09:01 PM
Brian Lemaire from Jersey City, NJ

Kudos to Joe Keenan for having the courage to play with that song of songs from that show of shows.
By that songwriter of all songwriters.
Yes, the final product was worthy. Were you wearing something elegant when you wrote it?

May. 18 2014 03:40 PM
gina ballinger from graz austria

sadly, the references in the Cole Porter update are only UP! if they're for males and women remain objects : (

May. 18 2014 05:27 AM
Glenn Zorpette from Sea Cliff, NY

Keenan's "Anything Goes" is at least as brilliant as the original. I eagerly await the album: "Joe Keenan's Forbidden Broadway."

May. 17 2014 05:00 PM

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