“Don’t Blame Me” is written in A1-A2-B-A2
form, and the title phrase is used to open
the song and close the A sections. Putting
a twist on the phrase “Don’t Blame Me,”
Fields’ lyrics profess love and passion,
saying in short, “Don’t blame me for falling
in love with you”; instead, “blame all your
charms that melt in my arms.”
In his book
The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of
America’s Great Lyricists, Philip
Furia comments on the lyrics of “Don’t Blame
Me,” saying the song “… marks the shift
to a more languorously erotic style.” He
goes on to say that each of the three words
in the phrase, “Don’t Blame Me” offers “…a
different open vowel — o, a, e, — to provide
a perfect vehicle for the torchiest of singers.”
of “Don’t Blame Me”
– A2 – B – A2
consists of upward skips alternating
with step-wise descents. “B” rises
chromatically before a skip upward;
the downward leap of a seventh then
arpeggiates up before a final chromatic
descent into the last “A”.
A number of chord substitutions
and delayed resolutions keep this
tune interesting. Many of the melody
tones are the “color” tones or harmonic
extensions of the underlying chords.
Of special interest are the chromatic
“lower neighbor tones” occurring
in the first two measures of “B”.
In the first measure of this section,
this seemingly creates tension between
the minor iv and its parallel major.
Functionally, however, the entire
measure is really major. If the
clashing between the minor third
of the melody and the major third
of the chord causes confusion, the
accompanist might consider using
common-tone diminished chords on
beats one and three in the measure
(or omit the third). The second
measure of “B” is different; the
melody alternates between the flatted
and the natural fifth. In this context,
the flatted fifth (Bb) cannot be
anything other than a color tone.
The bass should be confined to the
root and third here.
K. J. McElrath - Musicologist for JazzStandards.com
Check out K. J. McElrath’s book of Jazz Standards Guide Tone Lines at his web site (www.bardicle.com).