Another Gershwin classic is in the spotlight today, joining three others we’ve featured in the past — but for a different Special Feature. All of the previous tunes appeared on our Fantastic Foursome feature. (You can see them here: “I’ve Got a Crush on You” – “Summertime” – “‘S Wonderful”) However, today’s offering is showing up as the newest edition of Anatomy of a Song.
Written for the 1930 Broadway musical Girl Crazy, “But Not for Me” was introduced by Ginger Rogers, and was just one of many classic songs in the show. A couple of years later a forgettable Girl Crazy movie featuring Bert Wheeler came along, but in 1943 the story was revised and remade as a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland musical comedy. Judy’s performance of the song in the movie was memorable. (Video below.)
Like most good songs from the era, “But Not for Me” subsequently became a standard, and has been performed and recorded by countless singers through the years. Some of the best included Billie Holiday, Chet Baker (who employed both his trumpet and his singing voice), Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra. In later years it was notably covered by Harry Connick, Jr. for 1989’s When Harry Met Sally, and by Elton John for 1994’s Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Chet Baker – “But Not for Me”
Mostly remembered as an Oscar-winning actress (and former wife of Ronald Reagan) Jane Wyman was also a pretty good singer. Although she was never a major recording star, she was talented enough to work as a songbird — a big band singer — early in her career, and she found a lot of musical spots in her movies through the years.
Born as Sarah Jane Mayfield (later Fulks) in St. Joseph, Missouri, she first arrived in Hollywood as a teenager in the early 1930s, looking to break into movies. Things didn’t go too well at first but she was able to find work as a band singer, and later tried movies again. Over the next few years she didn’t exactly set fire to Hollywood, mostly filling small parts that were often uncredited, but by late in the decade she was beginning to find featured roles.
Jane Wyman’s 1940 marriage to Ronald Reagan occurred during a period that saw her rising success as an actress, with a number of co-starring parts in successful movies. During the 1940s and 1950s she was nominated for an Oscar four times, winning for 1949’s Johnny Belinda, and also found herself appearing in several well-regarded movies that gave her the chance to sing. In fact, her duet with Bing Crosby of the Oscar-winning “In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening” (from 1951’s Here Comes The Groom) remains one of her most memorable performances.
Although Jane continued to sing when and where she could, it didn’t really play much of a part in her later career, which included more movies and eventually a lot of appearances on TV. In addition to guest starring in dramas, she often appeared on variety or talk shows and even hosted her own show for a while. And of course, many will remember her for her long stint on Falcon Crest, which ended in 1990. She was pretty much retired in the years that followed, and was in her nineties (sources vary) when she died in 2007.
Bing Crosby & Jane Wyman – “In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening”
Gonna be a quick one today, so I guess that’s why I’m calling it a ‘half-day off’. I had minor surgery on one of my sasquatch-size feet (15EEE) and it’s pretty tough to work on the computer while keeping my foot elevated. (Although I am using my tablet for a few simpler things..)
Anyhow, I won’t bore you with any more of the details, but I thought I would at least report in and post an appropriate song.
Chet Atkins – “Big Foot”