Just the Way You Look Tonight


My blog post today is dedicated to my late wife, whom I took to calling “The Lovely Jo Anne.” 

After a sixteen-year struggle with breast cancer, she was overtaken just as dawn broke on December 1 a year ago.

Some time before she died, we saw a 1992 movie titled Peter’s Friends, and I fell in love with a Jerome Kern song that played a pivotal role in the film. JoAnne subsequently gifted me with a DVD of the movie.

But it wasn’t until she departed this life a year ago that I understood what this lyric is about: "Just the way you look tonight."

If Jo Anne and I could live our life again, I would simply love her more—for simply who she is.

These are the words written by Kern's lyricist, Dorothy Fields:

Someday when I'm awfully low

When the world is cold

I will feel a glow

Just thinking of you

And the way you look tonight

Oh, but you're lovely

With your smile so warm

And your cheeks so soft

There is nothing for me

But to love you

Just the way you look tonight

With each word

Your tenderness grows

Tearing my fear apart

And that laugh

That wrinkles your nose

Touches my foolish heart

Lovely, never never change

Keep that breathless charm

Won't you please arrange it

Cause I love you

Just the way you look tonight

There is only one rendition of this song that does it justice. Forget versions by Sinatra, Bennett and Fitzgerald. Listen to this clip from the 1992 movie, Peter’s Friends.

In the movie, Peter has gathered his closest pals to announce that he is terminal with HIV. They group one by one around the piano, played by Hugh Laurie (a.k.a. TV's Dr. House) to sing “The Way You Look Tonight.” The singers are Imelda Staunton, Kenneth Branagh, Alphonsia Emmanuel, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson.

Disregard the poor video quality. Close your eyes and picture the one you love most, either here or departed. And have tissues at hand.


(The photo is Jo Anne's headshot from her acting days.)

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  • John Salonich
    commented 2016-12-06 12:05:58 -0500
    Nice comment on life.