Cover to Cover with Jack Foley

Cover to Cover with Jack Foley – July 8, 2009

Steve Ross performs Noël Coward’s songs, including the exquisite and little-known “Most of Every Day.” Coward himself sings his song “Green Carnation” (1929), which first made an explicit connection between Oscar Wilde’s invention, the green carnation, and homosexuality. (It is possible that Wilde, who was Irish, was making an ethnic commentary.) Note that Coward insists that homosexuality is not a PROBLEM for these people (“The world our eccentricity condones”). For him, homosexuality is “womankind’s / Gift to a bulldog nation.”


A chorus from the 1890s sings:


Blasé boys are we

Exquisitely free

From the dreary and quite absurd

Moral views of the common herd

We like porphyry bowls

Chandeliers and stoles

We’re most spirited, carefully filleted souls:


Pretty boys, witty boys, too too too

Lazy to fight stagnation

Haughty boys, naughty boys, all we do

Is to pursue sensation

The portals of society are always open’d wide

The world our eccentricity condones

A lot of quaint variety we’re certain to provide

We dress in very decorative tones

Faded boys, jaded boys, womankind’s

Gift to a bulldog nation

In order to distinguish us from less enlightened minds

We all wear a green carnation


Pretty boys, witty boys, you may sneer

At our disintegration

Haughty boys, naughty boys, dear dear dear

Swooning with affectation

Our figures sleek and willowy

Our lips incarnadine

May worry the majority a bit

But matrons rich and billowy

Invite us out to dine

And revel in our phosphorescent wit

Faded boys, jaded boys, come what may

Art is our inspiration

And as we are the reason for the nineties being gay

We all wear a green carnation


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