I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby

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"I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby"
Jazz standard by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields
Released 1928
Recorded 1928
Genre Jazz
Songwriter(s) Dorothy Fields
Composer(s) Jimmy McHugh
Producer(s) Jimmy McHugh

"I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" is an American popular song and jazz standard by Jimmy McHugh (music) and Dorothy Fields (lyrics). The song was introduced by Adelaide Hall at Les Ambassadeurs Club in New York in January 1928 in Lew Leslie's Blackbird Revue, which opened on Broadway later that year as the highly successful Blackbirds of 1928 (518 performances), wherein it was performed by Adelaide Hall, Aida Ward, and Willard McLean.

Vu (magazine) issue N°77 'Au revoir Black Birds!’ (04 09 1929) Adelaide Hall, who inrtroduced "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby", on the front cover of Vu (magazine) as the French say farewell to Blackbirds after their tenure at the Moulin Rouge in 1929.

In the 100-most recorded songs from 1890 to 1954, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" (1928) is No. 24.[1] The song continues to appeal, including new cover versions in 2014 and 2016, and several uses in popular movies and plays since 2000.


Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields had written the score for a revue at Les Ambassadeurs Club on 57th Street, New York, which featured the vocalist Adelaide Hall. However, the producer Lew Leslie believed that they still missed a 'smash' tune. The team pondered for a while before finally playing Leslie "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby". This was the song Leslie had been looking for and he immediately included it in the revue.[2] Blackbird Revue opened on January 4, 1928 with Adelaide Hall singing "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" solo. Later on, Fields and McHugh wrote a second half for the revue and Leslie expanded the production. With extra songs and extra performers added (including the vocalist Aida Ward), Leslie renamed the revue Blackbirds of 1928 and took the full production for a tryout in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where it appeared at Nixon's Apollo Theatre. On May 9, 1928, Blackbirds of 1928 opened at the Liberty Theatre, Broadway.

Legend has it that the idea behind the song came during a stroll Fields and McHugh were taking one evening down Fifth Avenue; they saw a young couple window-shopping at Tiffany's. McHugh and Fields understood that the couple did not have the resources to buy jewelry from Tiffany's, but nevertheless they drew closer to them. It was then they heard the man say, "Gee, honey I'd like to get you a sparkler like that, but right now, i can't give you nothin' but love!" Hearing this, McHugh and Fields rushed to a nearby Steinway Tunnel, and within an hour they came up with "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby".[3]

Some controversy surrounds the song's authorship. Andy Razaf's biographer Harry Singer offers circumstantial evidence that suggests Fats Waller might have sold the melody to McHugh in 1926 and that the lyrics were by Andy Razaf.[4] Alternatively, Philip Furia has pointed out that Fields' verse is almost identical to the end of the second verse of Lorenz Hart's and Richard Rodgers' song "Where's That Rainbow?" from Peggy-Ann, the 1926 musical comedy with book by Fields' brother Herbert and produced by their father Lew:[5]

Use in the media[edit]

Notable recorded versions[edit]

The song has been covered by many artists, including:

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga version[edit]

"I Can't Give You Anything but Love"
ICantGive-Single Cover.jpg
Single by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
from the album Cheek to Cheek
Released August 19, 2014
Format Digital download
Genre Jazz
Length 3:13
Songwriter(s) Dorothy Fields
Tony Bennett singles chronology
"Anything Goes"
"I Can't Give You Anything but Love"

"Anything Goes"
"I Can't Give You Anything but Love"
Lady Gaga singles chronology
"Anything Goes"
(2014) Anything Goes2014
"I Can't Give You Anything but Love"
(2014) I Can't Give You Anything but Love2014
"Til It Happens to You"
(2015) Til It Happens to You2015

Background and composition[edit]

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga released a collaborative jazz album, titled Cheek to Cheek, in 2014.[47] The songs were handpicked by Bennett and Gaga; they selected tracks from the Great American Songbook including "I Can't Give You Anything but Love", "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)", "Sophisticated Lady", "Lush Life", and the title track, "Cheek to Cheek".[48] The version of "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" on Cheek to Cheek has Gaga and Bennett alternating verses alongside piano, a brass section and drums.[49] She also altered the lyrics to sing "Gee, I'd like to say you're looking swell, Tony", who later rejoins with the line "Diamond bracelets won't work, doesn't sell, Gaga".[50][51]

Release and reception[edit]

"I Can't Give You Anything but Love" was released as the second single from the album on August 19, 2014. Gaga announced the release on Twitter, accompanied by the single's cover art.[52] Jeff Benjamin from Fuse was positive in his review, saying that "[t]here's a walking bassline, gospel organs and brassy horn blasts to back the pair's soulful crooning. And while we love listening to Gaga and Tony, we really get into the throwback vibe when the trumpet solo kicks in.[53] Jesse David Fox from New York also gave a positive review, stating that "lot has been written about the creative and commercial shortcomings of Gaga's last record, [Artpop], but I, for one, am glad about its failure — because anything that frees her up to record more music with Tony Bennett is a win in my book. 'I Can't Give You Anything but Love' is a great example; Tony Bennett might be 88, but it's Gaga who hasn't sounded this alive in years."[54]

Trey Barrineau from USA Today complimented the duos vocals, saying that the song "really swings".[55] A writer for Next Magazine declared that Gaga sounded "absolutely stellar" in the song, and found it to be a "vocal vehicle" for the artist to "show off" her singing.[56] Debra Kamin from The Times of Israel praised Gaga's vocals on "I Can't Give You Anything but Love", for her range and control.[57] MTV News critic Gil Kaufman described the track as "funky".[58] Alexa Camp from Slant Magazine gave a negative review, saying that "for a singer who isn't even 30, Gaga's voice is shockingly rough-hewn".[59] After its release, "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" debuted at number-one on the Jazz Digital Songs chart of Billboard, on the week ending September 6, 2014. It was the second song from Cheek to Cheek to top the chart, following previous single, "Anything Goes".[60]

Music video and promotion[edit]

An official music video for the song was released on August 26, 2014. The video was shot in the recording studio and the first half showed Gaga in numerous outfits and wigs, while recording the song and roaming around. Bennett joins the studio sessions later on, singing the song. The final chorus finds the two singers belting together, described as "join[ing] forces for a peculiar, yet potent blend of styles that transcends generations and genres". Along with the music video a remix by Giorgio Moroder was released exclusively in October 2014 to Idolator website. The chords of the original version was changed, with Moroder adding synths and a bassline, complimenting the vocals of Bennett and Gaga.[61]

Jon Blistein from Rolling Stone complimented the video, saying that it "proves [Gaga and Bennett] exude a unique, adorable brand of musical chemistry".[62] Maurice Bobb from MTV News noticed the "bare essence" of the duo in the video and added that Gaga appeared "overwhelmingly subdued", but felt that "her playful energy still shines through as she preens and shimmies to [Bennett's] smooth crooning."[63] Nolan Feeney from Time that Gaga appeared normal in the video and added that "she’s still fun to watch even when she’s just hanging out in the vocal both (and dressed like a relatively normal human, no less)."[64] Katie Atkinson from Billboard declared that "If you love the adorable friendship between glam pop queen Lady Gaga and classic crooner Tony Bennett, you'll definitely want to see the breezy behind-the-scenes studio video of the pair for 'I Can't Give You Anything but Love'."[65] Idolator's Mike Wass described the video in detail, calling it the "perfect antidote for Gaga's overwhelming, more-is-more Artpop visuals... The swingin' standard is a nice fit for Gaga and Tony. It allows them to riff off each other and ham it up (ever so slightly). Those shenanigans are captured in the studio-based video, which finds Mother Monster modeling a variety of wigs and smoking a cigar. Her suave companion looks a little bemused but he's clearly having a good time."[66]


Chart (2014) Peak
France (SNEP)[67] 173
Italy (FIMI)[68] 76
US Jazz Digital Songs (Billboard)[60] 1


  1. ^ This list was compiled by data from the book titled, Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954 - (1986) Published by Billboard Publications, Inc: http://hitsofalldecades.com/chart_hits/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1056&Itemid=9
  2. ^ Underneath A Harlem Moon ... The Harlem to Paris Years of Adelaide Hall by Iain Cameron Williams: ISBN 0826458939, Continuum International Publishing c/o Bloomsbury Publishing: chapter 9, pages 129 - 139:http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/underneath-a-harlem-moon-9780826458933/
  3. ^ Burton, Jack (May 27, 1950). "The Honor Roll of Popular Songwriters: No. 62 — Jimmy McHugh". Billboard. William H. Donaldson: 42. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  4. ^ "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" at Jazz Standards
  5. ^ Furia, Philip (1990). The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America's Great Lyricists. Oxford University Press. pp. 216–17. ISBN 978-0195074734. 
  6. ^ a b Columbia Records in the 38000 to 38499 series
  7. ^ a b c OKeh Records in the 8500 to 8966 series[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ a b c d e OKeh Records in the 41000 to 41499 series[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Video on Youtube from the 1943 movie "Jam Session" on YouTube
  10. ^ Ricky Riccardi, "80 Years of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love"
  11. ^ a b c d Victor Records in the 21500 to 21999 series
  12. ^ Vocalion Records in the 15500 to 15999 series[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Disc Records discography
  14. ^ Vocalion Records in the 1000 to 1499 series
  15. ^ Variety Records released in 1937
  16. ^ a b c Harmony Records in the 1001P to 2027P series
  17. ^ a b Supertone Records in the 1001P to 2027P series
  18. ^ Montgomery Ward Records in the 4500 to 5041 series
  19. ^ Victor Records in the 25500 to 25900 series
  20. ^ Columbia Records in the 36500 to 36999 series
  21. ^ a b Supertone Records in the 9000 to 9498 series
  22. ^ a b c d Brunswick Records in the 4000 to 4499 series
  23. ^ The Hot Sardines
  24. ^ a b Challenge Records in the 500 to 999 series
  25. ^ a b Banner Records in the 7000 to 7265 series
  26. ^ a b Jewel Records in the 5000 to 5499 series
  27. ^ Prestige Records discography, 1933 to 1948
  28. ^ Swing Records discography
  29. ^ Decca Records in the 27500 to 27999 series
  30. ^ Capitol Records in the 500 to 999 series
  31. ^ Capitol Records in the 10000 to 10210 series
  32. ^ a b Dean Martin 78 rpm discography on the Dean Martin fan site
  33. ^ a b Dean Martin 45 rpm discography on the Dean Martin fan site
  34. ^ a b c Brunswick Records in the 6500 to 6999 series
  35. ^ RCA Victor Records in the 20-3500 to 20-3999 series
  36. ^ Mercury Records in the 8000 to 8310 series
  37. ^ a b Vocalion Records in the 3500 to 3999 series
  38. ^ Mercury Records in the 89000 to 89098 series
  39. ^ Clef Records catalog
  40. ^ Discovery Records discography
  41. ^ Commodore Records in the series
  42. ^ US Decca Records in the 18000 to 18499 series
  43. ^ Conqueror Records in the 9500 to 9960 series
  44. ^ a b Vocalion Records in the 500 to 5499 series
  45. ^ a b Columbia Records in the 37500 to 37999 series
  46. ^ a b Vocalion Records in the 3000 to 3499 series
  47. ^ Grow, Kory (July 29, 2014). "Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett Detail 'Magnificent' Collection of Duets". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  48. ^ "Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Album of Classic Jazz Standards To Be Released September 23" (Press release). Toronto: Universal Music Canada. July 29, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  49. ^ Reuter, Annie (August 19, 2014). "Listen: Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga Duet on 'I Can't Give You Anything But Love'". Radio.com. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  50. ^ Grow, Kory (August 19, 2014). "Hear Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett's Latest 'Cheek to Cheek' Love Song". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  51. ^ "Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga – Cheek to Cheek – Deluxe Edition". US: iTunes Store. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  52. ^ Gibson, Megan (August 19, 2014). "Lady Gaga Unveils Cover Art For Duet Album With Tony Bennett". Time. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  53. ^ Benjamin, Jeff (August 19, 2014). "Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett Cover 1920s Song "I Can't Give You Anything But Love"". Fuse. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  54. ^ Fox, Jesse David (August 20, 2014). "9 Best New Songs of the Week". New York. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  55. ^ Barrineau, Trey (August 26, 2014). "Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett unveil video for 'I Can't Give You Anything But Love'". USA Today. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  56. ^ "Lady Gaga & Tony Bennet, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love"". Next Magazine. August 27, 2014. Archived from the original on September 3, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  57. ^ Kamin, Debra (September 14, 2014). "Lady Gaga's color-drenched love fest is perfect boost after summer rocket war". The Times of Israel. Retrieved September 14, 2014. 
  58. ^ Kaufman, Gil (September 16, 2014). "Lady Gaga And Tony Bennett's 'Cheek To Cheek': A Track By Track Breakdown". MTV News. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 
  59. ^ Camp, Alexa (September 17, 2014). "Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek". Slant Magazine. Retrieved September 18, 2014. 
  60. ^ a b "Jazz Digital Songs: September 6, 2014". Billboard. Retrieved August 29, 2014. (Subscription required (help)). 
  61. ^ Daw, Robbie (October 6, 2014). "Giorgio Moroder's Remix Of Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga's 'I Can't Give You Anything But Love': Idolator Premiere". Idolator. Retrieved October 6, 2014. 
  62. ^ Blistein, John (August 26, 2014). "See Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett's Chemistry at Work in the Duo's New Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  63. ^ Bobb, Maurice (August 26, 2014). "Lady Gaga And Tony Bennett Strip Down For The 'I Can't Give You Anything But Love' Video". MTV News. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  64. ^ Feeney, Nolan (August 26, 2014). "Lady Gaga Acts Like a Normal Person in the Video for Her Tony Bennett Duet". Time. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  65. ^ Atkinson, Katie (August 26, 2014). "Watch Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett Feeling the 'Love' in Studio Video". Billboard. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  66. ^ Wass, Mike (August 26, 2014). "Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett Jam In Their Low-Key 'I Can't Give You Anything But Love' Video: Watch". Idolator. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  67. ^ "Lescharts.com – Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – I Can't Give You Anything But Love" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
  68. ^ "Classifica settimanale WK 34". Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved October 15, 2017. 

External links[edit]