Well folks, I think Lenny really got it right this time. What a fun song! Nancy Walker is singing the part of 'Hildy', a female taxi driver, in Bernstein's "On The Town".
The song opens with the orchestra playing fortissimo in octaves with a grace note on every pitch. The effect sounds very confident but still provides a bit of anxiety for the listener. The base line in the A section is a dotted-eighth+sixteenth pattern that provides a walking base feel. The eighth notes are swung, creating a bit of relaxation to the previously stated anxiety.
When Hildy begins to provide examples of why she'd be a wonderful woman to be in love with, the orchestration drops way back and is playing half notes while she keeps the same rhythmic motive. They also modulate down a whole step. This element was crucial so that the audience will catch all of the random tid-bits that are thrown into her argument. ("Some girls make magazine covers/Some girls keep house on a dime/Some girls make wonderful lovers/But what a lucky find I'm).
When Hildy begins to prove how good she is, the lyrics are the same except that now SHE can do all these things (I'd make a magazine cover/I do keep house on a dime/I'd make a wonderful lover/I should be paid over time). However, Bernstein points out to us that this part is a bit more important because he modulates up a whole step, but with the same motivic structure.
The song's great--very light hearted, and the rhythms are so much fun! Walker strays from the original rhythms sometimes, and even embellishes notes here and there...but for the most part I think it was just being comfortable with Bernstein's style.
Mmm...oh so much fun.