Friday, April 4, 2008

An Informal Survey into the Fame of Cole Porter

We have a safety slogan board at work, and I'm usually the one to come up with the slogan that goes on the board. I've been doing it for about four years, so I've been out of ideas for the last three. Yesterday, I came up with something that I thought would fly, and it did. I used Cole Porter's lyrics to formlulate a seasonal safety slogan to this effect:

Birds do it.
Bees do it.
Even educated fleas do it.
Let's do it.
Let's stay safe this spring.

(Yeah, I know.) After I put it up, I thought I would get some comments, but alas, no one said anything unless I asked first. Although when prompted several people said they liked the slogan, no one knew where it came from. So, I just started asking people if they knew who Cole Porter was. I estimate that I asked forty people. Most of them were older than me (I'm 44). Only five people knew or had heard of Cole Porter. Not one of them knew that the "safety slogan" I put up was a lame variation of a Cole Porter song. These were not the results I expected.

The youngest person to know Cole Porter was 30 years old. The oldest I won't say, but I think he's in his sixties. Of the five people who "knew" him, only three knew he was a jazz musician, and only one knew he was a composer. (A familiar reaction was, "I've heard of him, but I don't know what he sings.") I'm not disappointed, but I am surprised.

I feel privileged to be as "young" as I am and as familiar with Cole Porter as I am. Being a jazz musician does have perks, however insignificant they may seem to others.

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