I Ain't Got Nobody
|"I Ain't Got Nobody"|
Sheet music cover
|Music by||Spencer Williams|
|Lyrics by||Roger Graham|
"I Ain't Got Nobody" was a c. 1915 song, written by Spencer Williams. Publisher Roger Graham (1885–1938)received co-composer credits. It became a perennial standard, recorded many times over following generations, in styles ranging from pop to jazz to country music.
Composer Charles Warfield claimed to have originally written the song. A copyright entry from April 1914 credits Warfield with the music, David Young with the lyrics, and Marie Lucas with the arrangement. The title of the song is given as "I Ain't Got Nobody and Nobody Cares for Me". Williams's copyright entry from 1916 for the shorter title credits the composition to Williams and Dave Peyton, and the lyrics to publisher Roger Graham.
Many artists had hit records with the song, starting with Marion Harris in 1916. Famous hit versions in the 1920s included those of Bessie Smith, Fats Waller, and Louis Armstrong. In the 1930s it was a hit for Bing Crosby, the Mills Brothers, Cab Calloway, Wingy Manone, and Chick Webb. Other notable recordings of include those of Emmett Miller, Merle Haggard, Bob Wills, Coleman Hawkins, and Rosemary Clooney.
Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody medley 
"I Ain't Got Nobody" is best known in a form first recorded by Louis Prima in 1956, where it was paired in a medley with another old standard, "Just a Gigolo". Prima started pairing the songs in 1945 and the idea was revisited in the popular arrangement in a new, jive-and-jumping style, created by Sam Butera for Prima's 1950s Las Vegas stage show. The success of that act gained Prima a recording deal with Capitol Records, which aimed to capture on record the atmosphere of his shows. The first album, titled The Wildest! and released in January 1957, opened with "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody", which then became Prima's signature number and helped relaunch his career. David Lee Roth covered the Sam Butera arrangement in 1985, enjoying a sizeable hit for himself. Butera was not credited for the arrangement and was not paid royalties by Roth.
Although the two songs have nothing else in common, the popularity of Prima's combination, further popularised by Roth has led to the mistaken perception by some that the songs are two parts of a single original composition.
References to the song 
The song was performed by the Mills Brothers in a 1932 Screen Songs cartoon of the same name.
The chorus of the song is quoted in the Roaring Lion's calypso "The Four Mills Brothers." This song in turn was covered by Van Dyke Parks for his Discover America album and performed by Parks with the members of Yellow Magic Orchestra for Haruomi Hosono's birthday tribute concert in 2007.
Marty Feldman sings the first few bars in a scene from Young Frankenstein, where only his character's head appears in a line of skulls, thus making it appear as if he had no body.
See also 
- "I Ain't Got Nobody". JazzStandards.com. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
- "Baby Won't You Please Come Home". JazzStandards.com. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
- Tosches, Nick (2003). Blackface. Au confluent des voix mortes. Editions Allia. p. 149. ISBN 2-84485-110-X.
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