Song of the Day, March 6: They Can’t Take That Away From Me

Sassy1950Can'tToday’s song is the George and Ira Gershwin classic They Can’t Take That Away From Me. The brothers wrote it in 1937 and it was first featured in the Fred Astaire / Ginger Rogers movie Shall We Dance. Astaire sings it to Rogers as their characters prepare to part, reflecting on all the little things that he will always remember about her. Unusually, the scene features no dancing.

It’s a quick, smart, poignant song and a standout in the Gershwin catalogue. Nominated for the 1937 Academy Award for Best Original Song, it lost to Harry Owens’ Sweet Leilani from Waikiki Wedding. Unlike that song, the Gershwin tune has become a jazz-pop standard, sung by dozens of diverse artists over the years.

My favorite version is sung by the wonderful Sarah Vaughan. Sassy recorded it a couple of times during her most prolific period between 1947 and 1959. On April 2, 1954, she sang her finest take, backed by her trio — John Malachi on piano, Joe Benjamin on bass, and Roy Haynes on drums. She captures the spirit of the song flawlessly, managing to wring the right amount of joy out of the bittersweet moment.

Enjoy this classic track today.


About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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