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George and Ira Gershwin: The Half of It, Dearie, Blues

We’re featuring a week of musical theater tunes from music researcher and longtime NYFOS subscriber Amy Asch. This post originally ran on June 27, 2017.

In this April 1926 recording (made in London for English Columbia), George Gershwin plays and Fred Astaire sings and taps.  To paraphrase the Passover Haggadah: if George Gershwin plays and Astaire sings and taps, dayenu.  It would have been enough.  But this recording contains a few bonus delights, as Gershwin interpolates licks from Rhapsody in Blue (written the same year as the song) and the men call out to each other.  Pure happiness.

Lady, Be Good! (1924)  was the first full score siblings Ira and George Gershwin wrote together and starred siblings Adele and Fred Astaire. Another first: This song was the first in which Fred Astaire danced a solo, rather than performing only as his sister’s dance partner or leading an ensemble. The song title may have been inspired by flamboyant female impersonator Bert Savoy, whose catch phrase, “You don’t know the half of it, dearie” became very popular in the late 1910s and early 1920s.  Savoy died in 1923.

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