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Love Is Here to Stay (1938)

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Origin and Chart Information
“‘Love Is Here to Stay’ was the last song George Gershwin composed.”

- JW

AKAOur Love Is Here to Stay
Rank 57
Music George Gershwin
Lyrics Ira Gershwin

Kenny Baker introduced “Love Is Here to Stay” in the 1938 United Artists film The Goldwyn Follies, Samuel Goldwyn’s attempt to become the Ziegfeld of the Silver Screen.


More on Kenny Baker at JazzBiographies.com

The song was given very little attention in the film and was almost relegated to background music with Baker’s performance partly covered by dialogue. Despite its on-screen treatment, “Love Is Here to Stay” went on to become a hit twice in 1938. Larry Clinton and His Orchestra (Bea Wain, vocal) took it to number 15 on the pop charts, and Red Norvo and His Orchestra (Mildred Bailey, vocal) leveled at number 16. It was not until Gene Kelly sang it in An American in Paris (1952), however, that the song became a standard.


Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

In addition to Baker, The Goldwyn Follies starred Vera Zorina, the Ritz Brothers, Adolphe Menjou, and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy in their film debut. The film also featured The American Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine. The song and dance numbers hung loosely upon the story of a movie producer who hires a girl (“Miss Humanity”) to evaluate his films from the perspective of an ordinary person.

Although the film was nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Score and Best Interior Decoration, it is considered an overblown extravaganza, interesting only for its production numbers. Other all-Gershwin songs in the score were “I Was Doing All Right,” “Love Walked In,” and “Love to Rhyme.” Vernon Duke composed “Spring Again” with lyrics by Ira.

According to Ira Gershwin in his book, Lyrics on Several Occasions, he and George finished five songs in the first six weeks of their Goldwyn Follies contract. Those were also the last six weeks of George’s work before his death on July 11, 1937. The fifth song, referred to by Ira and not mentioned above, was “Just Another Rhumba” which was not used in the film. “Love Is Here to Stay” was the last song George composed.

Ira was not pleased with the film’s treatment of the song saying,

So little footage was given to “Love Is Here to Stay”--I think only one refrain--that it meant little in The Goldwyn Follies. Beautifully presented in An American in Paris, it became better known.


More on Ira Gershwin at JazzBiographies.com

More on George Gershwin at JazzBiographies.com

George Gershwin would often perform his new songs for friends, interested to hear their impressions. Never at a loss for words or opinions, Oscar Levant was always happy to oblige. In Levant’s book, A Smattering of Ignorance, he says,

[“Love Is Here to Stay”] has a curiously continuous line, a rather complex pattern. After first hearing it I complained of its lack of breathing space in the second eight bars, its too-long contours, uttering some very cogent--so I thought--reasons for my opinion. George spent two days trying to rephrase the melody and simplify the line, eventually returning to the original form of it. Ira was quite annoyed with me, and rightly.

Not long after, Levant would have an opportunity to utilize his legendary memory and redeem himself. Although George had played the verses to “Love Is Here to Stay,” “Love Walked In,” and “I Was Doing Alright,” he had not written them down. When Goldwyn requested they hire a composer to complete George’s work, Ira chose Vernon Duke who would later say in his autobiography Passport to Paris,

... fortunately, Oscar Levant remembered the harmonies from George’s frequent piano performances of the song and I was able faithfully to reconstruct it.

“Love Is Here to Stay” is often referred to as “Our Love Is Here to Stay.” The original working title was “It’s Here to Stay” which soon became “Our Love Is Here to Stay” and then “Love Is Here to Stay.” According to Philip Furia in his biography Ira Gershwin: The Art of the Lyricist, for years Ira wanted to change the title back to his original idea, “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” but felt it would not be right as the song had become a standard. However, he did make the change in 1960 with the publication of The George and Ira Gershwin Songbook.

More information on this tune...

Ira Gershwin
Lyrics on Several Occasions
Limelight Editions
Paperback: 424 pages

(The lyricist himself discusses his lyric and tells anecdotes.)
See the Reading and Research panel below for more references.

- Jeremy Wilson

Music and Lyrics Analysis

Musical analysis of “Love Is Here to Stay”

Original Key Eb major
Form A – B1 – A – B2
Tonality Primarily major
Movement Primarily step-wise with upward leaps and with a pentatonic descending figure at the end.

Comments     (assumed background)

This is a marvelous example of how Gershwin was able to make sophisticated music from simple materials. The entire melody of section “A” is based on a pentatonic scale over a basic II – V – I progression. The composer elaborates on this by using embellishing chords, then surprising the listener with a III – VI – II in the transition to “B,” spicing up the harmonies with chord extensions and smooth interior moving lines. (The following progression at the end of “A”-- G13 – G7(#5) – C9 – C7(b9) – F9 –is formed by only two voices of the chord descending chromatically over the bass.)

Section “B” begins over V7 as would be expected, but resolution to the tonic is delayed by going down a harmonic path nearly identical to the “A” section of “Just You, Just Me” (V7 – VI7 – ii7 – V7 – I – IV), and then again by landing on the viiø7 – III7 going to vi – II7 – ii – V7. This, of course, returns us to the tonic of the second “A.”

The first two measures of section “B2” are melodically and harmonically similar to “B1,” except that everything has been subjected to rhythmic diminution (the note values are made smaller, speeding up the harmonic and melodic rhythm without actually changing the tempo). Measure 3 contains the same progression as the last two measures of “A,” then the ii7turns into a vii˚7 of I (in first inversion, i.e. Eb/G – some players use a iii, or Gm here), ending with the vi – ii – V turnaround.

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).
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Soundtrack information
“Love Is Here to Stay” was included in these films:
  • The Goldwyn Follies (1938, Kenny Baker)
  • An American in Paris (1951, Gene Kelly)
  • Lady Sings the Blues (1972, Diana Ross)
  • That’s Entertainment II (1976, Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron from An American in Paris, 1951)
  • New York, New York (1977, Liza Minnelli, Robert Auld dubbed by Georgie Auld on sax)
  • Manhattan (1979, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Zubin Mehta)
  • American Pop (1981)
  • See You in the Morning (1989)
  • When Harry Met Sally (1989, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald)
  • Traces of Red (1992)
  • Forget Paris (1995, Billie Holiday)
  • That Old Feeling (1997, Ella Fitzgerald)
  • Meet Joe Black (1998)
  • Swing (1999, Lisa Stansfield)
And on television:
  • The Honeymooners (1955) Ralph Kramden’s apology to Alice music
  • Frasier (2000) Season 7, Episode 168, "Something Borrowed, Someone Blue, Part 2"
  • Six Feet Under (2003, Patti Austin) HBO series, Season 3, Episode 35, "The Opening"
Reading and Research
Additional information for "Love Is Here to Stay" may be found in:

William Zinsser
Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs
David R. Godine Publisher
Hardcover: 279 pages

(1 paragraph including the following types of information: lyric analysis.)

Alec Wilder
American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950
Oxford University Press; Reprint edition
Hardcover: 576 pages

(2 paragraphs including the following types of information: music analysis.)

Thomas S. Hischak
The American Musical Film Song Encyclopedia
Greenwood Press
Hardcover: 536 pages

(1 paragraph including the following types of information: film productions and summary.)

Max Morath
The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Popular Standards
Perigee Books
Paperback: 235 pages

(1 paragraph including the following types of information: history and performers.)

Ira Gershwin
Lyrics on Several Occasions
Limelight Editions
Paperback: 424 pages

(2 pages including the following types of information: anecdotal and song lyrics.)

Philip Furia
Ira Gershwin: The Art of the Lyricist
Oxford University Press; Reprint edition
Paperback: 308 pages

(1 page including the following types of information: history and lyric analysis.)

Robert Gottlieb, Robert Kimball
Reading Lyrics
Hardcover: 736 pages

(Includes the following types of information: song lyrics.)
Also on This Page...

Music & Lyrics Analysis
Musician's Comments
Reading & Research

Jazz History Notes
Getting Started
CD Recommendations
Listen and Compare
By the Same Writers...

Jazz History Notes

Two swing era saxophone giants recorded versions of “Our Love Is Here to Stay” in the mid-1950s. Multi-instrumentalist Benny Carter, whose career began in the 1920s, was firmly rooted in the swing era yet was able to endure the changes in jazz until his death in 2003. Sessions he made in the 1950s and ‘60s for labels Contemporary and Verve sold well, and his recording of “Our Love is Here to Stay,” issued on Verve in 1955, is a prime example of the best ballad playing

A 1957 Verve Records reunion between tenor saxophonist Lester Young and pianist Teddy Wilson yielded a remarkable “Love is Here to Stay” at a slightly faster tempo than Carter’s.

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian

benny carter
3, 4, 5: the verve small group sessions
polygram records

Lester Young and Teddy Wilson
Pres and Teddy
Polygram Records 831270
Original recording 1956
Getting Started
This section suggests definitive or otherwise significant recordings that will help jazz students get acquainted with “Love Is Here to Stay.” These recordings have been selected from the Jazz History and CD Recommendations sections.

This tune has lent itself particularly well to swinging but relaxed interpretations and Lester Young’s late-career version with Teddy Wilson and “Papa” Jo Jones (Pres and Teddy) fits the bill wonderfully, showing that even in 1957 Young still had a great deal of command. Perhaps no version of “Love Is Here to Stay,” however, can match the relaxed swing achieved by Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson’s combo on their magical performance (Ella & Louis Again (Dig)), also from 1957.

Noah Baerman - Jazz Pianist and Educator

CD Recommendations for This Tune
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Billie Holiday
All Or Nothing at All
Polygram Records
Original Recording 1956
This late-career performance shows how much charisma and interpretive skill Holiday maintained even as her health and her voice were deteriorating. Her band here is wonderful as well, with tenor saxophonist Ben Webster in particularly good form.
Shirley Horn
I Thought About You
Polygram Records
Original recording 1987
This remarkable live performance of "Love Is Here to Stay"' is a highlight of Horn's "comeback,"' as she returned to the major-label limelight with this album after more than twenty years of keeping a lower profile. She shines here with both her singing and piano playing.

- Noah Baerman

Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong
Ella & Louis Again (Dig)
Umvd Labels
Original Recording 1956
Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson's group make for the perfect team to bring out the most swinging qualities in this tune, and they do not disappoint.
Stan Getz
Stan Getz and the Cool Sounds
2002 Verve 547317
Original recording 1961
Tenor saxophonist Getz leads the group through a gentle and reserved swing rendition of the song. The West Coast vibe is kept alive with the help of Lou Levy at the piano, Leroy Vinegar at the bass, and Shelly Manne behind the drum kit.
Carmen McRae
Here to Stay
Original recording 1955
McCrae, with typical deftness, walks the tightrope between faithful interpretation and rhythmic unpredictability. Her impeccably swinging band here is a quartet led by pianist Dick Katz and featuring drummer Kenny Clarke.
Bill Evans
You're Gonna Hear From Me
1991 Milestone 9164
Original recording 1969
Evans is particularly relaxed and spontaneous on this live trio recording. Bassist Eddie Gomez also shines with his interactive accompaniment and a gripping solo.
Booker Ervin
The Song Book
1993, Original Jazz Classics 779
Original recording, 1964
"Love Is Here to Stay"' is raw and passionate in the hands of wailing tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin. This fast-paced bop version features Tommy Flanagan at the piano.
Dexter Gordon
Our Man in Paris
Blue Note Records
Original recording 1963
Gordon is at his playful, creative best on this swinging live performance in France with Bud Powell, Pierre Michelot and Kenny Clarke.
John Pizzarelli
Our Love Is Here to Stay
1997 RCA Records 67501

Sophisticated vocalist/guitarist John Pizzarelli delivers a lazily swinging version of the title track. His rendition was nominated for a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Instrumentation Arrangement with Accompanying Vocals.
Etta Jones
2001, Original Jazz Classics
Original recording, 1960
Brassy vocalist Etta Jones takes her time with this slow but swinging version of the song. A hint of blues in the delivery gives the tune a touch more heat.

- Ben Maycock

Written by the Same Composer(s)...
This section shows the jazz standards written by the same writing team.

George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin

Year Rank Title
1924 18 The Man I Love
1924 22 Oh, Lady Be Good!
1930 24 Embraceable You
1930 54 But Not for Me
1938 57 Love Is Here to Stay
1930 73 I Got Rhythm
1926 77 Someone to Watch Over Me
1937 86 They Can't Take That Away from Me
1937 88 A Foggy Day
1927 98 'S Wonderful!
1937 158 Nice Work If You Can Get It
1937 201 Love Walked In
1927 213 How Long Has This Been Going On?
1929 320 Strike Up the Band
1924 329 Fascinating Rhythm
1929 381 Soon
1931 419 Who Cares? (So Long As You Care for Me)
1935 420 It Ain't Necessarily So
1930 487 I've Got a Crush on You
1936 766 Let's Call the Whole Thing Off
1936 927 They All Laughed
1926 983 Maybe

George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward

Year Rank Title
1935 270 I Loves You Porgy
1935 539 Bess, You Is My Woman Now

George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin and Gus Kahn

Year Rank Title
1929 189 Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away)

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