Sunday Treat – “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”

sundae“They Can’t Take That Away From Me” is a beautiful example of poetry set to music, with music composed by George Gershwin and lyrics by his brother Ira. It was introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1937 movie “Shall We Dance.” George Gershwin died two months after the film’s release, and he was posthumously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 1937 Oscars.

From 1924 on, George and Ira wrote almost exclusively with each other, churning out numerous hits for both Broadway and Hollywood. Their collaboration on “Of Thee I Sing” resulted in the first Pulitzer Prize for a musical comedy. George himself was awarded a special posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1998, the centennial of his birth. Ira continued to collaborate with other composers after his brother’s death, and was nominated three times for Academy Awards. Ira died peacefully in 1983. In 1985 the United States Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to both brothers, only the third time in history that songwriters had been thusly honored.

The lyrics are gorgeous:

Our romance won’t end on a sorrowful note
Though by tomorrow you’re gone;
The song is ended, but as the songwriter wrote
The melody lingers on
They may take you from me, I’ll miss your fond caress
But though they take you from me, I’ll still possess

The way you wear your hat
The way your sip your tea
The memory of all that
No, no, they can’t take that away from me

The way your smile just beams
The way you sing off key
The way you haunt my dreams
No, no, they can’t take that away from me

We may never, never meet again
On the bumpy road to love
Still, I’ll always, always keep the memory of

The way you hold your knife
The way we danced till three
The way you changed my life
No, no, they can’t take that away from me
No, they can’t take that away from me

“They Can’t Take That Away From Me” has been recorded many times by many artists, including Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald. Below, you can see the original performance by Fred Astaire from the movie “Shall We Dance.”


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