Stories of Standards: "I Can't Give You Anything But Love"

Mar 7, 2017

Tune in to First Take with Lando and Chavis - weekdays from 6-9 am MT - for Stories of Standards to hear our favorite versions of this song all week long!

“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” (1928) by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields first appeared in “Blackbirds of 1928,” where it was the hit of the show, which ran for 518 performances. The melody first appeared as “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Lindy,” scheduled for the show “Harry Delmar’s Revels.” It was pulled then reappeared, with new lyrics credited to Dorothy Fields, in “Blackbirds of 1928.”

Jimmy McHugh (1896 – 1969) started off as a rehearsal pianist with the Boston Opera House, then worked for Irving Berlin’s company and moved to New York in 1921, where he wrote a number of songs for the Cotton Club. He met Dorothy Fields in 1927 and began a great partnership. “Blackbirds of 1928” was the first, with “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” “Don’t Blame Me” came out in 1932 and “I’m In the Mood for Love” (1935) was their first song to rise to number one on the Hit Parade. In 1951 he founded the Jimmy McHugh Polio Foundation, which became Jimmy McHugh Charities. He was a director of ASCAP from 1960 until his death and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.

Dorothy Fields (1905 – 1974) wrote memorable songs from the 1920s through the 1970s. Born into a vaudeville family, she first aimed at a career as an actor, a goal that was thwarted by her father, who utterly disapproved of acting. Her seven-year partnership with Jimmy McHugh produced a series of great songs including “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”, “On the Sunny Side of the Street” (1930) and “I’m in the Mood for Love” (1935). She collaborated with Jerome Kern on “Swing Time” (1936), which included “A Fine Romance”, a perennially popular song used as the theme for the Judy Dench/Michael Williams British comedy of the same name. She was the first woman inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.