Porter’s musical, “Can-Can”, a show about the Montmartre quarter of Paris in the 1890’s, opened in New York (1953) to tepid reviews. Critics of the day complained that Porter had not come up with another “Begin the Beguine” or “Night and Day”. The NY Times even declared that “there was nothing original in the score and that the lyrics were unrelieved by humor”. Whatever the critics may have felt, the public decided it wanted to see “Can-Can” and once LP’s of the show’s songs started to circulate the popularity of selected tunes (e.g. “I Love Paris”, “C’est Magnifique”) soared into Variety’s listing of 1953 top popular hits.
Porter’s enthusiasm for “It’s Alright” was somewhat tempered. To give a French quality to his music, Porter composed the song in a minor key, which imparts a sense of sadness and longing to the melody. While it’s not obvious from the lyrics he felt the song shouldn’t be played too fast and that the singer should “cry” when performing it.
Singers often take this song at a smooth, society dance tempo, gliding across the emotions. Listen first to Lena Horne, a vocalist Porter admired, who recorded such an up-tempo version – which actually turned it into a hit – and then to Frank Sinatra, whose much slower, smoldering rendition brings out the tenderness and heartbreak in the lyrics. “It’s Alright” is a song for adults, who’ve loved and lost, and recognize the possibility of new love, but a ways down the road, on “some night you’re free”.
"You can't know how happy I am that we met, I'm strangely attracted to you. There's someone I'm trying hard to forget, Don't you want to forget someone too?"