This song is another which has deservedly become a standard.
It was one of seven songs written by Fields and McHugh for the
1935 film Every Night at Eight. The
film starred George Raft, and (more significantly from the point
of view of the songs) three singing actresses - Patsy Kelly, Alice
Faye and Frances Langford - as three singing sisters on the radio.
Frances Langford introduced and recorded I'm
in the Mood for Love, but the performer who had a big hit
with it was Little Jack Little and his orchestra. Since then dozens
of performers have recorded it (more than 120 versions are listed
on record store websites).
Once again, there is a rarely heard introductory verse, but for
once, I think it is better omitted. As you can see below, the first
four lines of the verse are poetic in a rather creaking and overblown
way, in direct contrast to what follows in the main part of the
| Lovely interlude,
Most romantic mood,
And your attitude is right, dear.
You have me under a spell
Now my dream is real
That is why l feel
Such a strong appeal tonight
All my reason takes flight, dear.
When the main song starts we have classic Dorothy Fields at work,
the use of simple, sweet language matching perfectly the rhythm
of the music, and creating a picture of a blissful dreamy contentment.
The first, so well-known, quatrain is highly peculiar when you
| I'm in the
mood for love
Simply because you're near me
Funny, but when you're near me
I'm in the mood for love
What we have there are no rhymes, but rather two identities "love"
twice, and "near me" twice. Not only that but the matching
lines are not the traditional first with third and second with fourth.
This is untraditional verse-writing, but how close it is to the
way a developing thought is expressed in speech, particularly any
kind of logical conundrum. "It drives me mad when they don't
tell me they're going to be late, but when they do tell me they're
going to be late, that drives me mad too."
Then take the phrase Funny, but when you're
near me. It's so colloquial and sounds so natural when a
singer phrases it with a slight pause at the comma. Similarly later
on with the delighted enthusiasm of Oh, is it
A favourite moment of mine later on is the glorious phrase If
it should rain, we'll let it. The amused insouciance of this
expression is charming - it's the perfect verbal expression of a
relaxed shrug of the shoulders.
Frances Langford's version of the song is fine, with a sweet extra
note injected in "any" in Oh, is it
any wonder. Her sombre performance of the last verse is at
odds with the lyric though.
Bryan Ferry definitely succeeds in giving this song a totally new
sound. I just don't like what he does without it. Percussion and
violin are to the fore, and the mood is dreamy. However the dreaminess
is that of drugged semi-consciousness, rather than a delicious joy
in love. The drugged dream feel is reinforced by someone called
Alice Retif murmuring a French poem in the background. The joy in
the lyrics is nowhere in Ferry's dry performance.
Barbara Cook, naturally, does it right. She includes the verse,
which as I've said is not a great addition, but her performance
of the lyric is wonderful. This singer has such perfect phrasing;
she drops slightly behind the melody in Funny,
but when you're near me and Oh, is it
any wonder and it's so effective. Beautiful.
I'm in the Mood for Love was the
inspiration for another song, a jazz standard. Music critic Will
Friedwald describes the original record involved as launching an
entire new movement in jazz, "vocalese". Saxophonist James
Moody recorded a jazz solo which used the chords of I'm
in the Mood for Love as the basis of a new melody. Lyricist/singer
Eddie Jefferson then set words to the new melody. The resulting
song is Moody's Mood, and Fields/McHugh
are often given credit in liner notes of recordings.