But Not for Me

But Not for Me (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) was one of several hit songs to come from the Gershwin score of the 1930 original Broadway musical Girl Crazy. Music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and book by Guy Bolton and John McGowan.

The show featured Ginger Rogers in her first leading role, but the limelight was apparently stolen by Ethel Merman in her Broadwat debut. Girl Crazy is notable for having produced the most hit songs by the Gershwins in one Broadway show. These include:

  • Embraceable You
  • But Not for Me
  • I Got Rhythm
  • Sam and Delilah

But Not For Me has long been popular with jazz musicians, with Lee Wiley’s 1939 version being a notable early version. But there has been only one pop chart hit with the tune, a recording by Harry James and his Orchestra with vocalist Helen Forrest, in 1942.


Harry James and his Orchestra, vocal: Helen Forrest



Judy Garland

In the film Girl Crazy (1943)


Recorded 1943; Released on 78 Decca 23309A, 1944. The video creator uses footage from Summer Stock (1950).


Ella Fitzgerald recorded the song often. This is probably one of the two 1959 recordings, either 8 January or 26 March with Nelson Riddle and his Orchestra, two of her recording dates at Capital Studios in Hollywood that year.


Modern Jazz Quartet —  recorded 25 June 1953 — Milt Jackson (vib) John Lewis (p) Percy Heath (b) Kenny Clarke (d). The track was initially issued on a 1953 EP, The Queen’s Fancy, in the UK and Sweden, according to discogs.com; it was later released on the 1956 Prestige LP Django (PRLP 7057).


Chet Baker – recorded at Capitol Studios, Los Angeles, CA, 15 February 1954. The track was released on the 1954 LP Chet Baker Sings (Pacific Jazz PJ 1222, and World Pacific WP 1826).

  • Chet Baker (tp, vo) Russ Freeman (p) Carson Smith (b) Bob Neal (d)


Miles Davis — recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, 29 1954 — Miles Davis (tp) Sonny Rollins (ts) Horace Silver (p) Percy Heath (b) Kenny Clarke (d) — released on Prestige LP Bags’ Groove (PRLP 7109)

take 1

take 2

Jo Stafford with the Art Van Damme Quintet – Recorded 30 September 1956, released in 1957. Columbia CL 968 – B side of A Foggy Day


Elton John – from the soundtrack of Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)


Diana Krall – demonstrating alternate styles on Elvis Costello’s Spectacle



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