"Begin the Beguine" by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra (1938)


Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine" lasts a whopping three times as long as the common popular hit, at 102 measures instead of 32. Porter's expensive tastes, high society identity, and Parisian influences allowed him to create an alternative world for his fans, moving between keys and pushing brassy trumpets to the forefront of his easily paced dance tunes. Artie Shaw popularized the use of show tunes in the swing format and introduced and developed the role of string sections in swing music. Shaw's Orchestra made the song a #3 hit (Shapiro).