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Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You (1929)

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Origin and Chart Information
“After the premier recording by McKinney’s Cotton Pickers in 1929, [the song] wasn’t recorded again until 1941 by tenor saxophonist ‘Chu’ Berry.”

- Chris Tyle

Rank 150
Music Don Redman
Lyrics Andy Razaf

The talented saxophonist/arranger/bandleader/vocalist Don Redman introduced his composition on a 1929 Victor recording with McKinney’s Cotton Pickers. Fourteen years later, with a slight lyric rewrite by Andy Razaf, Nat “King” Cole brought the tune back into vogue. Cole’s version was his fourth recording to hit the charts:

Nat “King” Cole Trio (1944, vocal, #15)


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

Redman was responsible for integrating the rhythmic approach of Louis Armstrong into his arrangements for Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra during the mid-1920s. In 1927 he was wooed away from Henderson and joined McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, the house band at the Greystone Ballroom in Detroit. During his tenure with McKinney he wrote and recorded his three best known tunes: “Gee Baby...,” “Cherry,” and “Save it Pretty Mama.” He recorded the latter tune while guesting with Louis Armstrong’s band in Chicago in December, 1928.


More on Andy Razaf at JazzBiographies.com

More on Don Redman at JazzBiographies.com

While with the Cotton Pickers, Redman began utilizing an unusual vocal style, more softly-spoken than sung, which proved more effective than his normal singing style. His vocal on “Gee Baby...” fits the haunting melody perfectly and brings out the best in Andy Razaf’s lyrics. The song explains why “there’s nothing too good for a gal that’s true,” and those good things include a “fur coat for Christmas, a diamond ring and big Packard coupe” (later updated to a “Cadillac car” when Packard went out of business).

Following Nat “King” Cole’s hit version in 1944, the tune started appearing in cover versions by numerous groups and eventually became more popular than when originally released in 1929.

More information on this tune...

Thomas S. Hischak
The Tin Pan Alley Song Encyclopedia
Greenwood Press
Hardcover: 552 pages

(Hischak includes a history of the song and its performers in his encyclopedia.)

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian

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