Soundtrack of My Life: “Never Gonna Dance” by Fred Astaire

This has a two-fold meaning. The top is the dance sequence from the 1936 Astaire-Rogers film Swing Time. To be perfectly blunt- I love every single thing Astaire and Rogers did together, even The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle and Barkleys of Broadway. But Swing Time remains my favourite of their films, if only because of the great Fields-Kern score, topped with this incredible song, complete with a magnificent dance routine. Ginger wrote in her autobiography that this dance, more than any other, tried her patience, and shooting it was a nightmare because of the precise timing needed for the ascension up the stairs. She would have to dump blood out of her shoes at times during the night, so exacting were director George Stevens and choreographers Astaire and David Abel. But it is such a high point in their career together.

I had to add the vocal as well, of course. Astaire wasn’t a fantastic singer- he had limited range and the tone of his voice was quite anemic. But his good humour and charm still exude from his best songs. “The Way You Look Tonight” and “A Fine Romance” get all the glory from this set of songs, but there is something achingly lovely about Astaire’s performance of this song. An understated and underappreciated classic.


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