Porgy (Fields & McHugh) – lyric transcription, 1930 Ethel Waters recording


Porgy (m. Jimmy McHugh, w. Dorothy Fields) – lyric transcribed by doc from a 1930 Ethel Waters recording*

Selected recordings of the song, from 1930 to 1974, are available on my recently published page, Porgy (McHugh, Fields) – 1928. Of the later recordings of “Porgy” that I’ve heard, none of them include the entire chorus of the Waters version, and the only other that includes the verse is that by Adelaide Hall.

Ethel Waters — recorded in New York, NY on 1 April 1930; originally issued on Columbia 2184D*, c/w “(What did I do to be so) Black and Blue”

Following a 16 bar verse, the chorus is 72 bars long, with nine sections, eight bars each. In the 32-bar or AABA song form most common during the classic American songbook era, a song with 64 or more bars of chorus typically has at least two 32-bar sections, each with the same structure: (1) AABA, (2) AABA. The words will be different in the second part, but the music will be essentially a repetition of the first part. That’s certainly not the case here. Instead the structure of the chorus seems to be AABA CDEF A, where the “A” bar is the only one repeated, and each bar in the second section is melodically unlike any other bar in the chorus.


There ain’t no man in Charleston
A stranger to big Crown’s Bess
Catfish Row is closed now
To the sight of this old red dress
But there is one they call Porgy
Seems like that man understood
Got his trust in me, Lord
And I’s gonna stick for good

I’s got a man now
I’s got Porgy
I understand now
‘Cause I’s got Porgy
I’m through with byways
And his ways is my ways

Lord, just to feel
His arms about me
Knowing he can’t
Get on without me
I wants to beg for
A chance just to camp by his door

‘Course he ain’t much for
To look and see
Lazy and no ‘count
As he can be
But he’s got that good
Kind of love for me

I’s changin’ my style
And that old way of livin’
Glad I’ve stopped takin’
And started givin’
Yes, I’ve got a man
I’ve got Porgy now

For him to hold me
In his arms and whisper
“I love you”
To have him near me
Just to cheer me
How could I get blue?

Deep in my heart
Oh, I get such a thrill
Why we’ll never part
That I’m sure we never will

‘Cause love, true love, will find a way
Never fear
There’ll come a day
Maybe, my dear

I’ll wait
Trust fate
That we’ll be happy some day
On just a precious little thing called love

That’s why I’m changin’ my style
And that old way of livin’
Glad I’ve stopped takin’
And I’ve started givin’
Oh, I’s got a man
I got Porgy now

~ lyric written by Dorothy Fields, ©1928; transcribed by doc (Jim Radcliff), on 8 January 2019, from a 1930 Ethel Waters recording*


* The Discography of American Historical Recordings indicates that two masters of Columbia matrix W150159 were made, drawn from the first and second of three takes on 1 April 1930 in NYC. On the Columbia 2184-D page, DAHR suggests that each of the masters were issued on separate pressings of the single with that catalog number. I don’t know which of the masters is represented in the recording by Waters included in our feature page, Porgy (McHugh, Fields) – 1928.


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