“I Can Cook Too” is a song from the 1944 musical On The Town. Composed by Leonard Bernstein, with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, the musical is based on the Jerome Robbins ballet Fancy Free of the same year. In addition to the music, Bernstein wrote most of the lyrics for this particular song, too.
On the Town was adapted into a Hollywood film in 1949, but much of the score was re-written for the screen. While the iconic image of Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Jules Munshin singing “New York, New York” dressed as sailors is perhaps On the Town’s best-known number, only four songs from the original musical made it into the Hollywood film. This caused Bernstein to boycott the movie. Imagine my disappointment when watching the film, only to have this charming song never appear!
On The Town follows the adventure of three sailors on a 24-hour shore leave in New York City. While Chip (Sinatra) wants to see the sites, Gabey (Kelly) and Ozzie (Munshin) are far more interested in meeting women. Chip is soon pursued by the sexually aggressive taxi driver Hildy, who manages to lure the oblivious sailor to her apartment. In the stage musical, it is here that Hildy sings “I Can Cook Too,” a braggadocios ode to her own fabulousness, in an attempt to seduce the young sailor.
As you can probably tell, I really like Hildy. She’s smart, funny, sex-positive, and goes after what she wants. That was a big deal for a female character in 1949! Of course, in the 1940s it was expected that a woman’s place was in the kitchen, but as you’ll see from the lyrics, Hildy’s self-confidence isn’t derived from her cooking abilities alone. She’s covergirl beautiful, a great singer, a frugal homemaker, an excellent dancer, a fantastic career taxi driver, and a “wonderful lover.” And her cooking sounds delicious. What a package! It’s too bad her dimwitted beau doesn’t really get it until almost the end of the show. Hildy is too good for Chip, anyway! I’m glad he got on that boat the next day.
This is the final song from my graduating recital, so thank you to everyone who watched this video series and tuned in each week. If you missed any of the premieres, feel free to watch my playlist “Laura’s Graduating Classical Recital” to see the whole program from start to finish.
Completing the Royal Conservatory’s ARCT Voice Performance exam was a huge accomplishment for me. If there’s anything I can do to help you with your singing goals, don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.