“Don’t you know, little fool, you never can win?
Why not use your mentality – step up, wake up to reality?”
Written by Cole Porter in 1936, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” became a signature song for Frank Sinatra after he sang it on his weekly radio show in 1946. The swinging big-band version that most fans recognize came about ten years later, arranged by Nelson Riddle.
In his biography, Sinatra: The Chairman, author James Kaplan shares the story behind what some have called Sinatra’s greatest work:
Sinatra’s usual method with Riddle when planning out arrangements was to sketch out ideas verbally—“make it sound like Puccini”; “give me some Brahms in bar eight”—while Nelson took rapid notes. All this usually happened well in advance of recording. In this case, with one day’s notice, Frank told Riddle, about “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”: “I want a long crescendo.”
“I don’t think he was aware of the way I was going to achieve that crescendo,” Riddle later said, “but he wanted an instrumental interlude that would be exciting and carry the orchestra up and then come on down where he would finish out the arrangement vocally.”
The arranger’s mind turned immediately to one of his masters, Maurice Ravel, and the French composer’s great and sensuous ballet, Boléro. Riddle has written of the piece’s “absolutely tantalizing slow addition of instruments to this long, long crescendo, which is really the message of Boléro…. [I]t is excruciating in its deliberately slow addition of pressure. Now that’s sex in a piece of music.”
Please enjoy responsibly: