George Gershwin’s “But Not for Me” is Definitely for Me

Mickey Rooney Judy Garland Girl Crazy 1943

Yesterday I performed in a concert with my band (I play the saxophone in a community band), and by far my favorite of all the pieces we played was the jazz standard “But Not for Me,” which was composed in 1930 by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin.

I think it might be the most fun piece we’ve ever played. Well except for maybe the time we played songs from the musical Hair. “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” especially was an absolute blast to play!

Anyway, when I got home I decided to look up the history of “But Not for Me,” and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it has ties to classic film. Turns out it was originally written for the 1930 musical Girl Crazy, a play that by most accounts made Ginger Rogers a star and helped launch the career of Ethel Merman. On opening night of the play, the pit orchestra included the likes of Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Glenn Miller, and Jimmy Dorsey. Boy, would I have loved to have been there for that!

The song was also performed by Judy Garland in the film version of Girl Crazy from 1943, and it appeared in the movies Manhattan (1979), When Harry Met Sally (1989), and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). Continue reading →

Cover Girl (1944): In Memory of Gene Kelly

***A quick note before the start of my post: I actually started writing this a few days ago but didn’t get a chance to finish it. When I got online today, I discovered that it is the 16th anniversary of the death of legendary actor and dancer Gene Kelly, one of the subjects of this post. The timing is totally coincidental since I didn’t realize this day was coming up, but I just wanted to say a quick word to acknowledge the date, which I know is a very sad one for many of his fans, and dedicate this post to his memory.***

Gene Kelly in Cover Girl (1944)

Do you love Gene Kelly? I do! But it had been so long since I’d watched one of his movies that I had forgotten just how much I loved him and his dancing. When I watched a YouTube video of one of his dance numbers from the movie Cover Girl (1944), it reminded me that I really needed to get back into watching his movies. Since I thought the aforementioned dance routine, commonly referred to as his “Alter Ego” number, looked amazing and I had yet to see Cover Girl, I decided to watch it earlier this week.

On a side note, I found that video in a series of blog posts put together by Kelli, one of the contributors to a site devoted to Gene Kelly called Gene Kelly Fans. I’d encourage you to visit that site to learn more about him and also to read her six part series highlighting an interview she did for a documentary called “Dancing in the Rain: Gene Kelly” which celebrates Gene’s life and career. If you love Gene Kelly, you will really enjoy them. If you are not yet a fan, I think there is a good chance you will be after you get to know him better. :-) Continue reading →