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George and Ira Gershwin originally wrote “How Long Has This Been Going On?” (1927) for the musical Smarty, where Adele Astaire and Jack Buchanan sang it on the occasion of their first kiss. Dismal audience response to the musical led to much rewriting before opening on Broadway with the new title Funny Face, and this song was replaced by “He Loves and She Loves”; two months after that “How Long Has This Been Going On?” was rewritten as a solo for the Broadway musical Rosalie, which ran from January through October 1928.
In its first outing the song was about the shock of discovering the difference between formal kisses from elderly relatives and romantic kisses from suitors. The second version, with new first and second verses, contrasts kisses sold at bazaars for fundraising with romantic kisses inspired by emotion.
From 1924 until George’s untimely death in 1938, George (1898-1937) and Ira (1896-1983) Gershwin produced some of the best-known and loved music and musicals in American history, including “Lady Be Good” (1924) featuring the song “Fascinatin’ Rhythm”, “Oh, Kay!” (1926) with “Someone to Watch Over Me”, “Funny Face” (1927) with “S’Wonderful”, “Strike Up the Band” (1930), “Girl Crazy” (1930) with “I Got Rhythm”, the opera “Porgy and Bess” (1935) and “Shall We Dance?” (1937).