Tea for Two (song)
"Tea for Two" is a song from the 1925 musical No, No, Nanette with music by Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Irving Caesar. It is a duet sung by Nanette and Tom (Louise Groody and Jack Barker) in Act II as they imagine their future.
The song contains abrupt key changes between A-flat major and C-major. The song also consists mostly of dotted eighth and quarter notes. Alec Wilder described these features as being uncharacteristic of a great theatrical song but acknowledged the song's great success regardless.
The story may be apocryphal, but Irving Caesar indicated on Steve Allen's radio show that the lyrics were intended to be temporary.
In October 1927, the conductor Nikolai Malko challenged Dmitri Shostakovich to do an arrangement of a piece in 45 minutes. His "Tea for Two" arrangement, Opus 16, was first performed on 25 November 1928. It was incorporated into Tahiti Trot from his ballet The Golden Age first performed in 1929.
"Tea for Two" became a jazz standard and was recorded by numerous bands and instrumentalists. Early notable performances and a recording of the song were made by jazz virtuoso Art Tatum in 1939. Pianist Thelonious Monk knew the song well, reharmonizing the song and recording it with a bebop-style melody in 1952 with the name "Skippy" and returning to the original melody with a charming arrangement for his 1963 album Criss Cross. Anita O'Day's rendition of the song at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival was considered one of the festival's highlights.
"Tea for Two" was the most played song on the Lawrence Welk TV show, with over 1000 different broadcast episodes, "Tea for Two" was played on 67 different shows due to its popularity.
On The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Tonight Show bandleader Doc Severinsen would cue up the song whenever one of Johnny Carson's jokes bombed. Carson would do an impromptu soft shoe, eliciting laughter from the studio audience and turning a bad joke into a big laugh.
It was also used, with altered lyrics as the theme tune for BBC sitcom Next of Kin (1995-7).
A brief part of the song was used by comedian Stewart Francis for one of his one-liners concerning an over-active imagination and tap-dancing chipmunks.
- American Dream
- American tea culture
- I'm a Little Teapot, a later American children's song and dance about making tea
- List of 1920s jazz standards, at the bottom of the '24-'25 list
- Alec Wilder, James T. Maher (1972-04-27), American popular song: the great innovators, 1900-1950, ISBN 9780195014457
- Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of American Popular Music. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research, Inc. p. 590. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.