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Thread: Can someone explain the lyrics of "The Lady is a Tramp"?

  1. #1
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    Can someone explain the lyrics of "The Lady is a Tramp"?

    Maybe this is a silly question, but I don't understand the lyrics of "The Lady is a Tramp." I've always thought the word "tramp" had a negative connotation, meaning either "a woman of questionable morals" or "a hobo". But in the song, it seems like the singer is expressing admiration for the lady by referring to her as a "tramp". So what exactly does "tramp" mean in the context of this song?

    And further, why did Frank choose to sing it as "The Lady is a Champ" on the Duets album?

  2. #2
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    Smile Jason

    You're correct on both counts.

    But the 'tramp' connotation in the Rodgers & Hart lyrics (from "Babes In Arms") refer to a to female who chooses the hobo lifestyle.

    I've known a few tramps of the other variety who don't care for the free fresh wind in their hair.

  3. #3
    Guest

    Wink CHAMP?

    Hello my friend.

    Sinatra didn't sang THE LADY IS A CHAMP on duets. He sang the original song.



    Anyway,what a great version,isn't it?

  4. #4
    Watertown's Avatar
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    I was gonna post the same question. I know when I saw Frank Live in '94 he used the word "Champ." I forget what he says in Duets.

    "She loves the free, fine wild, knocked out coo-coo, hmmm groovey wind in her hair"
    Thanks,
    Steve
    We ROCKED a romance to the Castle Rock!

  5. #5
    Guest

    Good explanation, Vinny..

    I think to best understand the subtelty of lyrics to LADY IS A TRAMP one would have see the film PAL JOEY and how the verse/chorus worked into the plot of the story...Especially Rita Hayworth's reactions when Joey sings the song to her in the club. Truly priceless!

    Holmes

  6. #6
    Nancy's Avatar
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    Champ

    Sammy Cahn wrote a parody for Dad to sing at special times for friends. It was called, "The Lady Is a Champ." There was a second one for men called, "The Gentleman Is a Champ." These were used at various times throughout Frank's career to celebrate birthdays and such.

    Didn't he sing this with Ella?
    DON'T DESPAIR

  7. #7
    Nancy's Avatar
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    Tramp

    It seems to me the original lyric is about a woman who has her priorities in order and who is not interested in material things which makes her uninteresting to highbrow types. Hence, they scorn her and dismiss her as a tramp.

    The man singing about her is defending her. If you recall Pal Joey, the song is sung to and about Rita Hayworth who sees it first as sarcastic and later as a compliment.
    DON'T DESPAIR

  8. #8
    Guest
    Thanks for all the responses. I guess I have to go rent Pal Joey now.

    I'm pretty sure I remember Frank singing "champ" sometimes (but not all the time) on the Duets version. But I'm not at home to pull out the CD and check.

  9. #9
    Guest

    Thumbs up tramp song

    the use of "tramp" in the song is a way of sinatra telling rita that they were "two peas in a pod", used purely for identification purpose's i think.
    the movie will explain all, it's a great movie, sinatra at his best.
    thanks, joe...

  10. #10
    Guest

    Smile

    THE LADY IS A TRAMP was introduced in the Broadway musical BABES IN ARMS in 1937 by Mitzi Green. Early film of the song shows it as a semi-comedy hobo number (I think later reprised as a duet): the young leading lady has vanquished her sophisticated rival. The song did not make it to the Garland /Rooney screen version, but Lena Horne sang it in 1942s WORDS AND MUSIC.

    Ella's version is closer to the original, but Frank Sinatra's male sophisticate version from PAL JOEY bears little contextual resemblance to the original.

    The Lady Is a Tramp

    From Babes In Arms 1937
    Lyrics by Lorenz Hart, music by Richard Rodgers
    VERSE

    I've wined and dined on Mulligan stew
    And never wished for turkey
    As I hitched and hiked and grifted, too,
    From Maine to Albuquerque.
    Alas, I missed the Beaux Arts Ball,
    And what is twice as sad,
    I was never at a party
    Where they honored Noel Ca' ad.
    But social circles spin too fast for me.
    My Hobohemia is the place to be.

    REFRAIN 1

    I get too hungry for dinner at eight
    I like the theater but never come late
    I never bother with people I hate
    That's why the lady is a tramp
    I don't like crapgames with Barons and Earls
    Won't go to Harlem in ermine and pearls
    Won't dish the dirt with the rest of the girls
    That's why the lady is a tramp
    I like the free fresh wind in my hair
    Life without care
    I'm broke, it's oke
    Hates California is cold and is damp
    That's why the lady is a tramp

    REFRAIN 2
    I go to Coney-the beach is divine.
    I go to ball games-the bleachers are fine.
    I follow Winchell and read ev'ry line.
    That's why the lady is a tramp.
    I like a prizefight that isn't a fake.
    I love the rowing on Central Park Lake.
    I go to opera and stay wide awake.
    That's why the lady is a tramp.
    I like the green grass under my shoes.
    What can I lose?
    I'm flat! That's that!
    I'm all alone when I lower my lamp.
    That's why the lady is a tramp.

    REFRAIN 3 (reprise)

    Don't know the reason for cocktails at five.
    I don't like flying-I'm glad I'm alive.
    I crave affection, but not when I drive.
    That's why the lady is a tramp.
    Folks go to London and leave me behind.
    I'll miss the crowning, Queen Mary won't mind.
    I don't play Scarlett in Gone With the Wind-
    That' s why the lady is a tramp.
    I like to hang my hat where I please.
    Sail with the breeze.
    No dough-heigh-ho!
    I love La Guardia and think he's a champ.
    That' s why the lady is a tramp.

    REFRAIN 4 (reprise)
    Girls get massages, they cry and they moan.
    Tell Lizzie Arden to leave me alone.
    I'm not so hot, but my shape is my own.
    That's why the lady is a tramp!
    The food at Sardi's is perfect, no doubt.
    I wouldn't know what the Ritz is about.
    I drop a nickel and coffee comes out.
    That's why the lady is a tramp!
    I like the sweet, fresh rain in my face.
    Diamonds and lace,
    No got-so what?

    - I'm channeling bvo!

  11. #11
    Guest
    >>Didn't he sing this with Ella?<<

    You bet! And she sang the verse.

    Was it 1967? A Man and His Music + Ella + Jobim

    Online reviews -- click here.

    Or does Nancy's question refer to Sammy Cahn's parody?


  12. #12
    Nancy's Avatar
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    Lady...

    << Or does Nancy's question refer to Sammy Cahn's parody? >>

    No m'am. It was about the original lyric.
    DON'T DESPAIR

  13. #13
    C.R.E.'s Avatar
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    Wow! I never knew about those other verses! I love it!
    Christopher

  14. #14
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    Lincolns and Fords

    Also cool was when he substituted "she won't go to Harlem..in Lincolns or FORDS!"
    Christopher

  15. #15
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    To complete the picture: Sinatra sang parodies entitled "The Gentleman Is A Champ", with new lyrics each time written for the occasion by Sammy Cahn, to the melody of "Tramp" at the following occasions:

    4.7.1967 for Gen. David Sarnoff
    13.5, 19.5. and 20.10. 1972 for Spiro Agnew (presidential rally)
    9.2.1975 for Orson Welles
    4.7.1986 for Lou Wasserman (special record)

    These recordings are pure fun to listen to, not only are the lyrics different each time, but also, Sinatra is accompanied by piano only (Bill Miller in most cases) which makes it special musically, too.

    The Sarnoff and Agnew versions were done live, the tribute to Orson Welles was for the "Salute to Orson Welles" TV special, and the Wasserman tribute was made into a special record that was distributed at Lew Wasserman's 50th RCA anniversary on 12.12.1986, that FS did not attend in person.

    Sinatra's common way of inflicting a few "champ"s instead of "tramp"s when singing the Rodgers & Hart song in concert was clearly influenced by the Cahn parodies. There are many concert versions where he sings "That's why this chick is a champ" in the refrain line - just the way he does it at the end of the Capitol recording made for "Duets" in July 1993.

    Through the years Sinatra always took a lot of liberties with the original lyrics, that's part of why his renditions were so fascinating. The way he handled it it was one of the best Sinatra-type tunes ever.

    As has already been mentioned, FS and Ella Fitzgerald did an unbelievable rousing rendition of "Tramp" for the 1967 TV special (with Ella doing the verse, that FS himself never touched), and they also did an exciting live version together on December 3, 1990, when FS was awarded the Ella Award, given to him by Ella herself. On that occasion, they again swing the hell out of the tune, accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Henry Mancini. It is just grabbing. The ultimate event!!!

    Ella and Frank, they were both Champs.

    Bernhard.

    A video still from the event (Beverly Hills 3.12.1990) of FS and Ella doing "The Lady Is A Tramp". Behind FS with earphones is Henry Mancini conducting the orchestra.


  16. #16
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    Nancy sez: Tramp
    It seems to me the original lyric is about a woman who has her priorities in order and who is not interested in material things which makes her uninteresting to highbrow types. Hence, they scorn her and dismiss her as a tramp. The man singing about her is defending her. If you recall Pal Joey, the song is sung to and about Rita Hayworth who sees it first as sarcastic and later as a compliment.


    I've always wondered. I've never seen Pal Joey, though I know I'd love this movie. Frank, Rita and Kim. No brainer.

    This thread was 'before my time', so I thought I'd give it a 'bump' for the new guys.

    Fantastic info. Thanks all!

  17. #17
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    I've never seen Pal Joey
    Say what? PC, you are joking? Shame, shame, shame. That movie is one of Mr. S.'s top ten, and the sequence when he sings Tramp to Mrs. Prentiss Simpson is a hoot - he kicks the piano aside w/this "sexy" move. . . .Lord, you have GOT to see this movie!!! Check out the thread on Franks Films - it's loaded w/good stuff!




  18. #18
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    Thumbs up Lyriics of Lady is a Tramp

    Careful your picking on my very favorite Sinatra Song, right Gassergirl!

    I agree with Nancy's answer #2.
    And as Lux, said If you havn't seen this movie. Shame on you!
    Its definately one of his best, and talk about sexy WOW!!
    Great cast too and great music.

    He did duet with Ella which was great on the DVD (A Man and His Music x Ella x Jobim. ) great show also.


    Charlie

    FOR FRANK SINATRA, I WHISLE AND STAMP (From Ella's cd Ella in Berlin)

  19. #19
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    That's right Charlie!!!

    I love the free, fresh wind in my hair....life without care...!!!!


    Nancy you're dead-on! THIS chick...ahem,tramp....definitely has her priorities straight and does'nt care too much for the high-brow stuff herself!

    That's why this lady is a tramp!

    Hannah

  20. #20
    MMM's Avatar
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    I don't hear it that way. I hear the song as a put down about a woman who nothing is ever good enough for. That's why the lady is a tramp. Of course, one gets the impression that he's still very much attracted to her, either in spite or perhaps because of this, at least in part. Listen to Frank's Capitol version for instance - the sexual tension is pretty intense.

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