I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby

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I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby (Jimmy McHugh/ Dorothy Fields)

From the site DorothyFields.co.uk

The tune was used in one of Fields’ and McHugh’s earliest collaborations, but was unpublished, and Dorothy wrote new lyrics for the music to provide a number for Delmar’s Revels (in either 1927 or 1928). Some sources say that the original song was a tribute to the superstar aviator Charles Lindbergh entitled I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Lindy. However, this doesn’t seem to tie in with a story Dorothy told later, involving her overhearing the conversation of a poor black couple gazing at the stylish and expensive jewelery on offer in Tiffany’s display window. Apparently the man said “Gee honey, I can’t give you anything but love.”

Whatever the original was, the staging of the revised song in Delmar’s Revels was a couple of poor kids sitting on the front steps of a tenement building. The unknown actors were Bert Lahr and Patsy Kelly, and he sang the song to her. Harry Delmar hated the song and insisted it be removed from the show after the first night!

However Fields and McHugh clearly believed in it, for they included it in several songs provided for Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1928 at the Liberty Theatre. Not everybody liked it — one critic called it “a sickly, puerile song” — but its detractors were vastly outnumbered by its admirers, and the sheet music and a recorded version by Cliff Edwards were massive hits.

From Wikipedia:

The song was originally introduced by Adelaide Hall at Les Ambassadeurs Club in New York in January 1928 in Lew Leslie’s Blackbird Revue. The revue later changed its name to Blackbirds of 1928 and enjoyed a long successful run on Broadway. In Blackbirds of 1928 the song was performed by Adelaide Hall, Aida Ward and Willard McLean.

Johnny Hamp’s Kentucky Serenaders – 1928

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Connee Boswell – recorded 26 August 1935 with The Ramblers in Laren, Holland

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Teddy Wilson & his Orchestra – New York, 19 November 1936 – Jonah Jones, t / Benny Goodman (as JOHN JACKSON), cl / Ben Webster, ts / Teddy Wilson, p / Allan Reuss, g / John Kirby, sb / Cozy Cole, d / Billie Holiday, v

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Valaida Snow – recorded in Copenhagen, Denmark, 1940

The provider says:

The Social Democratic Danish Prime Minister Thorvald Stauning, wanted during the early summer all US. Citizens out of Denmark, before USA maby joined the Allies. Valaida Snow didn’t listen to the warnings, and finally she was arrested by the half independent Danish Police, bustered for illegal drugs. She was very lucky that she was deported and escorted by the Danish police to neutral Sweden, and not handed over to the German Gestapo. Many myths have been since been told about this. On this video I want to tell the truth about what happened, and also give a short description about life in Denmark between 1939-1941, when Valaida Snow was living there. On the sound track you hear one of her four recor[d]ings from Copenhagen in 1940. This one is: ” I can’t give you anything but love” with the Danish saxophonist and band leader Winstrup Olesen. Please, enjoy.

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Nat King Cole – date unknown

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Judy Garland

Recorded for Capitol Records by Judy Garland with Orchestra conducted by Nelson Riddle, 26 May 1958. Released on LP Judy in Love, 3 November 1958.

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Recorded for Capitol Records by Judy Garland with Orchestra conducted by Norrie Paramor, 8 August 1960, released on LP Judy in London, 1972

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From The Judy Garland Show – a TV special (not part of the series with the same name that began in 1963). It features Judy and guests Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in concert. The DVD is packaged under the title Judy, Frank and Dean: Once in a Lifetime. It was broadcast on 25 February 1962.

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Episode #21 of “The Judy Garland Show,” taped 31 January 1964

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Adelaide Hall filmed live in concert at the Riverside Studios in 1989 at the age of 87

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