Witty Songs

ŠTed Schaar 2011

4.  "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life?" 

At 21 words, the title of this tune is claimed to be the longest for a song used in a Hollywood film.  It was performed by Fred Astaire and Jane Powell in the 1951 musical Royal Wedding; music is by Burton Lane with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.

The nuptials of the title are the ones that united Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip in 1947, when she was 21 and he, 26.10   Footage of that blessed event is included.  Astaire and Powell play a brother-sister act that is loosely based on a similar relationship Astaire and his sister Adele11 had early in their careers.

Like Adele, who met and married an English lord, the Astaire character's (Tom Bowen) sister (Ellen) meets and becomes engaged to an aristocrat played by a young Peter Lawford.

Although it's hard to beat the song and dance Astaire and Powell perform to the witty "How Could You...," later in the movie Tom Bowen is so happy about his love interest he dances up the walls and across the ceiling of his hotel room.

"How Could You..." rings true with anyone who has manipulated the facts a little to get what he or she wants.   Oddly, in the version below, which was on the long play record of the movie soundtrack, spoken parts come toward the end of the song.  In the movie, they are at the beginning.   

Outstanding lines are Powell's triple negative question, "Didn't your mother never teach you no manners?" and Astaire's double-negative response "I didn't have no mother, we were too poor" and the exchange that begins with her, "I'll give you one more chance: Do you love me or don't you?" His immediate and emphatic "No, I don't" reply is met by her "Quit stalling! I want a direct answer."

Powell, evidently the fourth choice to play Ellen after Ginger Rogers declined, June Allyson took the role but became pregnant and had to withdraw, and Judy Garland was hired but then fired,12  is great throughout.  Her costumes, especially the yellow and red outfit  she wears during "How Could You..." are strongly period and cool as a 50s jukebox.  (Listen to song at YouTube (Astair-Powell].)

Lyrics

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell: 

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell: 

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell: 

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:



Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:
 
Astaire:

Powell:


Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:



Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:

Astaire:

Powell:    
How could you believe me when I said "I love you" when you know I've been a liar all my life?

You've had that reputation since you was a youth

You must have been insane to think I'd tell you the truth

How could I believe you when you said we'd marry?

When you know I'd rather hang than have a wife. I know I said, "I'd make you mine."

Now wouldn't you know that I would go for that old line?

How could you believe me when I said "I love you," when you know I've been a liar

You sure have been a liar

A double-crossing liar

A double-crossing liar

All my doggone cheatin' life

You said you would love me long

So what?

And never would do me wrong

Stop bending the suit

Faithful you'd always be

Me? Why, baby, you must be loony to trust a lower-than-low, two-timer like me

You said I'd have everything

Get her!

A beautiful diamond ring 

Ha, ha, ha!

A bungalow by the sea

A bungalow yet!  You're really naive to ever believe a full-of-baloney phony like me

Boy, I sure must have lost my head

You ain't lost nothing you never had

What about the time you went to Indiana?

I was lyin', I was down in Alabama!

You said you had some business you had to complete

What I was doin' I would be a cad to repeat

What about the evenings you was with your mother?

I was rompin' with another honey lamb

To think you swore our love was real

Baby, leave us not forget that I'm a heel

How could I believe you when you said you loved me?

When you know I've been a liar

A good-for-nothing liar

All my good-for-nothing life

Spoken

This is the last time I'll ever go to a party with you

Will you put that in writing?

Oh, you're always making cracks, making cracks

Like what?

You're always humiliating me, humiliating me;  didn't your mother never teach you no manners?

I never had no mother, we was too poor

What's the matter with you lately; you used to tell me you loved me. You used to treat me like a high-classed dame.  Well, usedn't you?

So I used

So, now you admit it

I ain't admitting nothing

I'll give you one more chance.  Do you love me or don't you?

No, I don't

Quit stalling! I want a direct answer.

Singing

You know you've been a liar

I know I've been a liar

A double-crossing liar
 
A double-crossing liar

All your double-crossing life



Next Song


Footnotes Introduction Links to all Songs