Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


George Gershwin

This song has one of the most ironic histories in music theater. When Gershwin played it for Otto Kahn, who was hesitating about backing the source show, Lady, Be Good, Kahn was immediately convinced, and invested $10,000 (then enough to produce a show), gambling on the then untried composer and lyricist.

However, after the tryouts in Philadelphia, they decided that it slowed the action and was too sweet and pensive for the sparkling comedy, and so deleted it (though they later added it to two other shows, the 1927 Strike up the Band and the 1930 Rosalie). However, when Gershwin played it for socialite Lady Mountbatten, she liked it so much she asked for an autographed copy. She then gave the music to her favorite band, The Berkeley Square Orchestra, and from there it became such a hit that it traveled by word of mouth back over the Atlantic! It was firmly established in the popular music of the day when Max Dreyfus promoted it, eventually selling more than 100,000 copies, though he persuaded George and Ira Gershwin to accept royalties of only $.02 per copy rather than their customary $.03. It has stayed a favorite of jazz singers ever since.

It follows the AABA pattern that Gershwin used for many of his most popular songs, and achieves its dramatic effect, suggesting constancy in the face of all possible change, by using a steady, repeated melody over changing harmonies in the accompaniment.