I Can’t Get Started


I Can’t Get Started (m. Vernon Duke, w. Ira Gershwin)

Excerpt from WICN’s Song of the Week feature:

“I Can’t Get Started” got its start from a melody by Vernon Duke that literally couldn’t get started. Duke had written the melody for a song called “Face the Music with Me,” but, in his words, “since nothing had happened to that version” he told Ira Gershwin “the tune was free” and he “could write it up.” Gershwin took the tune and made it into “I Can’t Get Started.” Bob Hope introduced the song in the Broadway revue Ziegfeld Follies of 1936. Although Florenz Ziegfeld had been dead for three years, the producers of the revue, Lee and J.J. Schubert, had purchased the rights to his name. The revue opened in January of 1936, and was remarkable for being Fanny Brice’s last appearance and choreographer George Balanchine’s first appearance in a Broadway show.


Billie Holiday — Session #29 New York, 15 September 1938, Billie Holiday &  Her Orchestra (Vocalion) Buck Clayton (tp) Dickie Wells (tb) Lester Young (cl)(ts) Margaret ‘Queenie’ Johnson (p) Freddie Green (g) Walter Page (b) Jo Jones (d) Billie Holiday (v) — issued in November 1938 on Vocalion 4457, as the B-side of “The Very Thought of You”


Lester Young – Los Angeles 15 July 1942 — Lester Young-ts, Nat King Cole-p, Red Callender-b


Kay Starr with Charlie Barnet and his Orchestra – “For the Record” V disc recording session, 11 September 1944


Dizzy Gillespie Sextet – 1945

Personnel: Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), Trummy Young (trombone), Don Byas (tenor sax), Clyde Hart (piano), Oscar Pettiford (bass), Shelly Manne (drums)



Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Young, and Charlie Parker — 28 January 1946

From Jazz At The Philharmonic, Vol. 2  (Verve MG VOL.2) — recorded live at “Philharmonic Auditorium”, Los Angeles, CA, 28 January 1946 — Dizzy Gillespie, Al Killian (tp) Charlie Parker, Willie Smith (as) Charlie Ventura, Lester Young (ts) Mel Powell (p) Billy Hadnott (b) Lee Young (d)


Lester Young Quintet – date unknown


Jimmy Smith – from the album Jimmy Smith Plays Pretty Just For You, recorded at Manhattan Towers, NYC, 8 May 1957 — Jimmy Smith (org) Eddie McFadden (g) Donald Bailey (ds)


Maxine Sullivan on Art Ford’s Jazz Party, 18 September 1958


Anita O’Day – live, date unknown


Sonny Stitt — recorded in Paris, 12 Nov 1979 — released on the LP Back to My Own Home Town

Sonny Stitt (as, ts, voc)
Gerald Price (p)
Don Mosley (b)
Bobby Durham (d)


Benny Carter — c. 1980, live in Sweden

The video provider says,

Benny Carter…with the Swedish big band Kustbandet. Probably around 1980 at a summer midnight concert in the Stockholm area.


Sammy DavisJune 1989 with Paul Shaffer and band on Late Night with David Letterman


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