Love For Sale

Album: The New Yorkers (1930)

Songfacts®:

  • This song would have been better titled "Sex For Sale"; as might be expected, it is written from the viewpoint of a prostitute, a streetwalker in this case. Cole Porter wrote it for The New Yorkers, which opened on Broadway in December 1930; it was sung initially by Kathryn Crawford, and later by Elisabeth Welch. Porter's biographer George Eells refers to it as "the minor-keyed song whose lyrics were judged too raw for radio audiences..."
  • "Love For Sale" would certainly have been banned in England at the time, but an instrumental version was played initially in the States, although it was later recorded widely, including by Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Bassey, becoming a jazz standard - vocal and instrumental. It remains to be seen why any internationally acclaimed recording artist of this class should want to sing the part of a prostitute, but such foolish romanticizing of the oldest profession is hardly new in either music or literature.

    Having said that, the song's saving grace is the couplet:

    Old love, new love
    Every love but true love


    which tends to indicate that whatever its attraction for divas, Porter had no illusions about women who hire out their bodies to be abused by men. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
  • This song was performed by Vivian Green in the 2004 Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely (named for the Porter song) and by k.d. lang in the true crime thriller The Black Dahlia (2006).
  • Speaking with The Village Voice in 1999, Rufus Wainwright cited "Love For Sale" as a standard with gay overtones. "There's always been a gay element in old-fashioned songwriting, but it was taboo to make it clear that the song was about two men," he said. "I'm trying to write with that same spirit, but I want to be open about it."

Comments: 1

  • Tanya1976 from Los Angeles, CaHauntingly beautiful. The sale and price's quite clear in the lyrics for the merchant and buyer. Ella's version astounds me. Vivian Green's version's a good take on the song.
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