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MUSIC HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN ESSENTIAL PART OF RALPH LAUREN’S WORLD. HERE, A FEW RL FAVORITES TO LISTEN TO NOW
 

Ralph Lauren has often said that when he designs a collection, he’s really making a movie. And over the years, a few key artists have repeatedly provided the soundtracks to those films, both in spirit and at the runway shows themselves. Whether streaming or spinning at 33⅓ rpm, here are 14 RL favorites to help lift your spirits during this time.

“NOTHING BUT THE BEST” BY FRANK SINATRA

In the documentary Very Ralph, there’s a memorable home movie scene of Ralph dancing to Ol’ Blue Eyes in a white dinner suit. (Indeed, the duo once shared a memorable evening singing together in the early ’80s, and Ralph was known to defend Sinatra to his rock ’n’ roll–loving friends when he was a teenager.) This aptly named compilation is the place to start, or to rekindle your love of an iconic American artist whose songs are the very definition of timeless.

“MR. TOP HAT”
BY FRED ASTAIRE

Fred Astaire was the embodiment of elegance, a man whose signature style move—wearing a tie as a belt—has appeared in many a Polo campaign. And while date nights are off-limits right now, the romantics among us can achieve something like one by turning down the lights and putting on his version of “Night and Day.”

Mr. Top Hat
It had to be you

“IT HAD TO BE YOU”
BY ROD STEWART

Another album that reinterprets the Great American Songbook through a new lens, “It Had to Be You” is the first in Rod the Mod’s five-volume set of classics, each of which has earned a Grammy nomination. Stewart’s soulful British rasp will have you hearing timeless tunes like the title track in a new way.

It had to be you

“ELLA SINGS THE COLE PORTER SONG BOOK” BY ELLA FITZGERALD

Two of the most important figures in American song star on this 1956 set, which embodies the mid-century sophistication at the heart of so much in the World of Ralph Lauren. Across 35 tracks, including “Begin the Beguine” and “It’s De-Lovely,” Ella Fitzgerald interprets Cole Porter originals as only she can. This album was the first of her eight “American Songbook” releases on Verve, and each one radiates a much-needed warmth and joy during this time.

ELLA SINGS THE COLE PORTER SONG BOOK
Born in the USA

“BORN IN THE USA” BY BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

Though Ralph Lauren has always been inspired by the character and style of Hemingway the man, the author’s work has also been a source of design inspiration. The bullfights and toreadors—and in particular the scenes of the running of the bulls in Pamplona—from Hemingway’s 1926 masterpiece, were a particular inspiration for Ralph’s Spring 2013 women’s Collection.

Born in the USA

“THE FREEWHEELIN’ BOB DYLAN” BY BOB DYLAN

This isn’t Bob Dylan’s first album, but it’s the album where he became Bob Dylan—his first record of nearly all-original songs, including enduring anthems like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” As he would in the half-century since, Dylan found success by pairing original lyrics to traditional folk melodies, an all-American blending of old and new that is, in its way, very RL.

The freewheelin
Song from the last century

“SONGS FROM THE LAST CENTURY” BY GEORGE MICHAEL

Ralph has long been a fan of George Michael’s voice, particularly on ballads, so it makes sense that his jazz-leaning collection of covers has a special place in Mr. Lauren’s collection. This album is a great way to rediscover Michael’s natural talent, which was occasionally overshadowed by the slick production of his more pop-oriented songs.

Song from the last century

“...NOTHING LIKE THE SUN” BY STING

The romance between England and New York is a story Ralph has told in countless collections, and one that Sting chronicles on this album’s hit single, “Englishman in New York” (a staple of Ralph Lauren fashion shows). Indeed, the two also share both an obsession with detail and a love of home and family life that stands out in their particular lines of work.

...Nothing like the sun
Wings Greatest

“WINGS GREATEST” BY PAUL MCCARTNEY & WINGS

Decades into their respective careers, Ralph Lauren and Sir Paul remain consummate innovators and family men. Mr. Lauren is a particular fan of this compilation, which includes many of McCartney’s timeless celebrations of marriage and home.

Wings Greatest

“BLUE SKY – NIGHT THUNDER” BY MICHAEL MARTIN MURPHEY

Just as Ralph Lauren has kept the cowboy spirit alive through various Western-inspired collections over the years, Michael Martin Murphey, who has spent time with the Laurens on their ranch in Colorado, has done the same throughout a career devoted to cowboy songs old and new. This 1975 set is a great place to start—the opening track “Wildfire” includes a plea to “get these hard times right out of my mind,” which feels especially apropos right now.

Blue Sky - Night Thunder
As time goes by

“AS TIME GOES BY” BY BRYAN FERRY

The cover of this 1999 album of standards could almost be from a Polo campaign, with the former Roxy Music front man wearing a soft-shouldered tailored coat in front of a mural of ’30s-era swells. The music matches the image, with the elegant Ferry wedding his inimitable croon to the likes of “September Song” and the title track.

As time goes by

“STRONGER THAN PRIDE” BY SADE

Ralph Lauren is an American designer, but his vision and reach have always been global, with influences spanning far and wide. This sophisticated, seductive 1988 album from Nigerian-born Sade, which features some of her best-loved songs, including the atmospheric “Paradise,” has long been an RL favorite.

Stronger than Pride
Chet Baker Sings

“CHET BAKER SINGS” BY CHET BAKER

An incomparable double-threat, a gifted trumpeter and a gentle vocalist, Chet Baker was never better than he is here. A pure jazz album from start to finish, with a style and grace that’s very much core to the World of Ralph Lauren. We might not be able to enjoy a softly lit dinner at an elegantly casual bistro, but this record will help you set that mood (or something like it) at home.

Chet Baker Sings

“YOU DON’T BRING ME FLOWERS” BY NEIL DIAMOND

“The American popular song goes on,” Neil Diamond sings on the opening track of this album, and it’s as true today as when he belted it back in 1978. This album is a tribute to that music, the American jazz and rock that has meant so much to Ralph Lauren, performed by one of his favorite singers. The album’s signature single is “Forever in Blue Jeans,” with lyrics that read like an encapsulation of the Ralph Lauren philosophy. “And long as I can have you / Here with me, I'd much rather be / Forever in blue jeans…”

You don't bring me flowers
RL Sounds

PAUL L. UNDERWOOD is a former editor at Ralph Lauren. He is based in Austin, Texas, where he lives with his wife and two children.

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