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"I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" is an American popular song and jazz standard by Jimmy McHugh (music) and Dorothy Fields (lyrics). The song was introduced by Adelaide Hall at Les Ambassadeurs Club in New York in January 1928 in Lew Leslie's Blackbird Revue, which opened on Broadway later that year as the highly successful Blackbirds of 1928 (518 performances), wherein it was performed by Adelaide Hall, Aida Ward, and Willard McLean.
In the 100-most recorded songs from 1890 to 1954, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" (1928) is No. 24.
Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields had written the score for a revue at Les Ambassadeurs Club on 57th Street, New York, which featured the vocalist Adelaide Hall. However, the producer Lew Leslie believed that they still missed a 'smash' tune. The team pondered for a while before finally playing Leslie "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby". This was the song Leslie had been looking for and he immediately included it in the revue.
Blackbird Revue opened on January 4, 1928 with Adelaide Hall singing "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" solo. Later on, Fields and McHugh wrote a second half for the revue and Leslie expanded the production. With extra songs and extra performers added (including the vocalist Aida Ward), Leslie renamed the revue Blackbirds of 1928 and took the full production for a tryout in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where it appeared at Nixon's Apollo Theatre. On May 9, 1928, Blackbirds of 1928 opened at the Liberty Theatre, Broadway.
The idea behind the song came during a stroll Fields and McHugh were taking one evening down Fifth Avenue; they saw a young couple window-shopping at Tiffany's. McHugh and Fields understood that the couple did not have the resources to buy jewelry from Tiffany's, but nevertheless they drew closer to them. It was then they heard the man say, "Gee, honey I'd like to get you a sparkler like that, but right now, i can't give you nothin' but love!" Hearing this, McHugh and Fields rushed to a nearby Steinway Tunnel, and within an hour they came up with "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby".
Some controversy surrounds the song's authorship. Andy Razaf's biographer Harry Singer offers circumstantial evidence that suggests Fats Waller might have sold the melody to McHugh in 1926 and that the lyrics were by Andy Razaf. Alternatively, Philip Furia has pointed out that Fields' verse is almost identical to the end of the second verse of Lorenz Hart's and Richard Rodgers' song "Where's That Rainbow?" from Peggy-Ann, the 1926 musical comedy with book by Fields' brother Herbert and produced by their father Lew:
Use in the media
In the 1931 short film The Birthday Party, the song is performed as a duet between Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
The song is featured in the screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby (1938) in a scene where quirky heiress Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) and befuddled paleontologist Dr. David Huxley (Cary Grant) attempt to coax a surly leopard named Baby off the roof of a house by singing "I can't give you anything but love, Baby".
Louis Armstrong (recorded March 5, 1929, released by Columbia with the flip side "Black and Blue" and with the flip side "Mood Indigo"; also released by OKeh both with the flip side "No One Else but You". For other Louis Armstrong versions, including a 1943 film performance see Ricky Riccardi's treatment of the song.
Gene Austin (recorded November 23, 1928, released by Victor as catalog number 21798, with the flip side "I Wonder if You Miss Me Tonight")
Les Backer (recorded October 22, 1928, released by Vocalion as catalog number 15737, with the flip side "My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now"
Rube Bloom (recorded August 2, 1928, released by OKeh as catalog number 41117, with the flip side "Because My Baby Don't Mean 'Maybe' Now"
Gay Ellis (pseudonym for Annette Hanshaw) & her Novelty Orchestra (vocal by Hanshaw, recorded July 24, 1928, released by Harmony as catalog number 706-H and by Supertone as catalog number 1005P, both with the flip side "I Must Have That Man")
Seger Ellis and his Orchestra (recorded June 8, 1928, released by OKeh as catalog number 41077, with the flip side "Don't Keep Me in the Dark, Bright Eyes"
Hollywood Dance Orchestra (recorded August 7, 1928, released by Challenge as catalog number 536, also released by Banner as catalog number 7193; also released under the name Jewel Dance Orchestra by Jewel as catalog number, all with the flip side "Raggedy Maggie"
Jonah Jones Septet (recorded September 4, 1946, released by Prestige as an extended-play disc, catalog number PR-7604 and by Swing Records in France as catalog number 228, with the flip side "That's the Lick")
Louis Jordan (recorded March 1, 1951, released by Decca as catalog number 27620 with the flip side "You Will Always Have a Friend")
Ukulele Ike in New York 1928--Columbia 1471-D Columbia 5068
Ethel Waters with Duke Ellington (recorded December 22, 1932, released by Brunswick as catalog number 6517, with the flip side "Doin' the New Lowdown", and as catalog number 6758, with the flip side "Porgy")
Cootie Williams Rug Cutters (recorded October 26, 1937, released by Vocalion as catalog number 3890, with the flip side "Watching")
Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys (recorded September 23, 1935, released by Columbiaas catalog number 37703 and by Vocalion as catalog number 03264, both with the flip side "Never No More Blues")
"I Can't Give You Anything but Love" was released as the second single from the album on August 19, 2014. Gaga announced the release on Twitter, accompanied by the single's cover art. Jeff Benjamin from Fuse was positive in his review, saying that "[t]here's a walking bassline, gospel organs and brassy horn blasts to back the pair's soulful crooning. And while we love listening to Gaga and Tony, we really get into the throwback vibe when the trumpet solo kicks in. Jesse David Fox from New York also gave a positive review, stating that "lot has been written about the creative and commercial shortcomings of Gaga's last record, [Artpop], but I, for one, am glad about its failure -- because anything that frees her up to record more music with Tony Bennett is a win in my book. 'I Can't Give You Anything but Love' is a great example; Tony Bennett might be 88, but it's Gaga who hasn't sounded this alive in years."
Trey Barrineau from USA Today complimented the duos vocals, saying that the song "really swings". A writer for Next Magazine declared that Gaga sounded "absolutely stellar" in the song, and found it to be a "vocal vehicle" for the artist to "show off" her singing. Debra Kamin from The Times of Israel praised Gaga's vocals on "I Can't Give You Anything but Love", for her range and control.MTV News critic Gil Kaufman described the track as "funky". Alexa Camp from Slant Magazine gave a negative review, saying that "for a singer who isn't even 30, Gaga's voice is shockingly rough-hewn". After its release, "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" debuted at number-one on the Jazz Digital Songs chart of Billboard, on the week ending September 6, 2014. It was the second song from Cheek to Cheek to top the chart, following previous single, "Anything Goes".
Music video and promotion
An official music video for the song was released on August 26, 2014. The video was shot in the recording studio and the first half showed Gaga in numerous outfits and wigs, while recording the song and roaming around. Bennett joins the studio sessions later on, singing the song. The final chorus finds the two singers belting together, described as "join[ing] forces for a peculiar, yet potent blend of styles that transcends generations and genres". Along with the music video a remix by Giorgio Moroder was released exclusively in October 2014 to Idolator website. The chords of the original version was changed, with Moroder adding synths and a bassline, complimenting the vocals of Bennett and Gaga.
Jon Blistein from Rolling Stone complimented the video, saying that it "proves [Gaga and Bennett] exude a unique, adorable brand of musical chemistry". Maurice Bobb from MTV News noticed the "bare essence" of the duo in the video and added that Gaga appeared "overwhelmingly subdued", but felt that "her playful energy still shines through as she preens and shimmies to [Bennett's] smooth crooning." Nolan Feeney from Time that Gaga appeared normal in the video and added that "she's still fun to watch even when she's just hanging out in the vocal both (and dressed like a relatively normal human, no less)." Katie Atkinson from Billboard declared that "If you love the adorable friendship between glam pop queen Lady Gaga and classic crooner Tony Bennett, you'll definitely want to see the breezy behind-the-scenes studio video of the pair for 'I Can't Give You Anything but Love'." Idolator's Mike Wass described the video in detail, calling it the "perfect antidote for Gaga's overwhelming, more-is-more Artpop visuals... The swingin' standard is a nice fit for Gaga and Tony. It allows them to riff off each other and ham it up (ever so slightly). Those shenanigans are captured in the studio-based video, which finds Mother Monster modeling a variety of wigs and smoking a cigar. Her suave companion looks a little bemused but he's clearly having a good time."
^Hope, Carolyn. "Barry's Hits of All Decades". hitsofalldecades.com. Retrieved 2018. This list was compiled by data from the book Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954 (1986) Published by Billboard Publications
^Williams, Iain Cameron (2002). Underneath a Harlem Moon (1 ed.). London: Continuum. pp. 129-139. ISBN0826458939.
^Burton, Jack (May 27, 1950). "The Honor Roll of Popular Songwriters: No. 62 -- Jimmy McHugh". Billboard. William H. Donaldson. p. 42. ISSN0006-2510.