Nicky Haslam befriended Cole Porter in Sixties New York. Today he performs his songs, in tribute to a childhood idol
Saint-Germain-des-Prés, summer 1958. The Chinese statues in Les Deux Magots nod sagely at the existential epigrams of Simone de Beauvoir; the jukeboxes blare Dalida’s ‘Garde-Moi la Dernière Danse’, les yé-yés writhe to Le Twist. And, almost subliminally, everyone, young or old, in the streets, on the boulevards, in bistros and boudoirs, is singing ‘I Love Paris’, Cole Porter’s newest and most haunting of tributes to the city he adored above all others. We heard it constantly, night and day. I’d known it for a year or two already. Friends brought back from New York the new-fangled LPs – vinyl, not easily shattered shellac. Among them was the soundtrack to Can-Can, Cole’s latest Broadway triumph, and its subject was… well, Paris, in the 1880s. I’d even been taken to see the London production, hypnotised by its Lautrec-inspired sets, colours and sans-culottes. The leading lady sang ‘I love Paris…’ – against a...
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