This song is another survivor (along with “Dream Dancing”, see my post of 10/23/2018) from the 1941 film “You’ll Never Get Rich” starring Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth (Astaire’s favorite dancing partner). The picture was very successful at the box office, turning Hayworth into a major star and reenergizing Astaire who was feeling that his career had stalled after he broke off dancing with Ginger Rogers.
Porter found writing songs for a plot that utilized military life as a background for the familiar Hollywood triangle surprisingly difficult. He felt out of step with the period as the war years, with their big primary emotions, were not a comfortable milieu for him. Although he took an interest in the big battles and he contributed generously to war relief, he was not stirred to action the way his friend, Irving Berlin, was and he rebelled against wartime rationing.
In “So Near” as in “Dream Dancing”, the lover dreams that “we might make a team” and suggests that he and his beloved:
“Might find some isle Where lotuses smile And our time beguile Going native,” And yet he is frustrated:
“I just start getting you keen on clinches galore with me, When fate steps in on the scene and mops up the floor with me” “My condition is only so-so, ‘Cause whenever I feel you’re close, oh, You turn out to be, oh, so Far”
It would be hard to write about “So Near and Yet So Far” without featuring Fred Astaire (see below) but I was also able to find an enchanting rendition of the song by Mary Cleere Haran. I hope you will enjoy it.
Mary Cleere Haran