That's Why the Lady is a Tramp" lyrics"

Can someone please explain this song to me?
I’ve wined and dined on Mulligan Stew, and never wished for Turkey
As I hitched and hiked and grifted too, from Maine to Albuquerque
Alas, I missed the Beaux Arts Ball, and what is twice as sad
I was never at a party where they honored Noel Ca-ad (Coward)

Without trying to parse every line, I’d suggest that the tone of the entire song is that the lady doesn’t care much for the “high society” aspect of interpersonal relationships, and has a rather cynical view of such things.

What’s to explain? Ella is doesn’t adhere to social conventions or do things just because people expect her to, so they talk shit about her. Along with “To Keep My Love Alive” its one of my favorite Ella Fitzgerald tunes. (I believe both are Rodgers and Hart compositions, but I could be mistaken.)


I’ve gone ahead and removed most of the lyrics from your post, Lillith Fair, due to [post=6769907]copyright concerns[/post]. The best thing to do is to post a few lyrics and link to the rest (which, of course, you can still do).

::: fires up iTunes with Frank Sinatra:::
First off the lyrics you posted, don’t agree with what Frankie baby sings. it could be there are more than one version.
In the version Frank sings, instead of I he sings she.
She loves the theater, but doesn’t come late.

(She) will not dish the dirt with the rest of the girls.
This last line tells the story, I think.
She (Frank’s GF) doesn’t do what all the other girls do, therefore they consider her a tramp.

I daresay Sinatra tuned the lyrics to his own ends; the sond predates his rendition of it by six or seven years; it became one of his signature tunes only after he signed with Columbia in 1943. Ella didn’t start belting it out until the late 'Fourties or early 'Fifties, but the lyrics were originally written for a woman.

And Bess could sing Sinatra into the ground any day of the week while Porgy blasts the rest of the “Rat Pack” into submission.


Given the punctuation of the thread title, I thought we were going to be making fun of this song. Carry on.

I love when he later in the song, sang:

“Won’t dish the dirt, with the rest of those broads.”

The subject of the song (“The Lady”) doesn’t do any of those things (dishing dirt, coming late) that the other Ladies of high society do, so they hold her in contempt (“she’s a tramp”).

The singer is intentionally going along with the irony of the situation, whereby the principled “good” person is labeled a tramp.

The original context of the song, which was from a musical Babes in Arms is slightly different then just a straight anti-society thing. I remember hearing someone go over the details on the radio a while back, but alas, I don’t recall them.

I always interpreted that song to be the declaration of one who eschews middle-class values, and strays way outside the social norms, to the point of, for instance, maybe hopping a freight to Chicago.

In other words, a literal tramp. Hitching and grifting across the country, and happy about it.

But obviously she is rejecting those values, rather than just being ignorant of them.

What she is (a “Lady”, but of working class values) versus how “high society” views her actions. And she could care less. But social circles spin too fast for me; My “hobohemia” is the place to be…
WHAT SHE DOES (and they despise)
[ul][li]Eat Mulligan Stew (throw anything edible in a pot or tin pan)[/li][li]Hitched, hiked and grifted[/li][li]Goes to the beach at Coney Island instead of California for fun[/li][li]Goes to ballgames and sits in the bleachers[/li][/ul]

WHAT THEY DO (and she does not)
[ul][li]Go to the Beaux-Arts Ball honoring Noel Coward (said “Ca-ad”, a snobby Rich Bostonian/Anglophile pronunciation)[/li][li]Play “crap games” (gamble at casinos) with barons and earls[/li][li]Go to Harlem in ermine and pearls (“those rich white folk think it’s so cool to slum it”)[/li][li]Won’t dish the dirt with the rest of the girls (gossip)[/ul][/li]
And it’s not just about money. She “goes to the opera and stays wide awake” (where “they” fall asleep) and as the ending punchline, is “alone when I lower my lamp” (which can be taken as her being a spinster, or as “they are a bunch of sleeparound sluts in silk”).

My boss is a big Sinatra fan, so I get to hear this song at least twelve times a day. I don’t take that last line as her being a spinster, per se, but just that she is a woman of good moral character who doesn’t sleep around…even though the other women call her a tramp.