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It Might As Well Be Spring (1945)

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Origin and Chart Information
“...Richard Rodgers says that he wrote the number at a bright tempo, but the film’s musical director wanted it performed as a slow ballad.”

- Sandra Burlingame

Rank 114
Music Richard Rodgers
Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II

The 1945 movie State Fair was the only original film score written by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. Their other films were adapted from stage plays. “It Might As Well Be Spring,” sung in the film by Dick Haymes and dubbed for Jeanne Crain by Louann Hogan, won the Best Song Oscar that year. Other memorable songs in the movie include “That’s for Me” and “It’s a Grand Night for Singing.” The 1945 movie was a remake of a 1933 non-musical film starring Will Rogers and Janet Gaynor. In 1962, two years after Hammerstein’s death, the film was remade with Pat Boone, Bobby Darin, Pamela Tiffin, and Ann-Margaret with additional songs and lyrics by Rodgers.


More on Oscar Hammerstein II at JazzBiographies.com

More on Richard Rodgers at JazzBiographies.com

The song was featured on the radio show Your Hit Parade 14 times, three times in first place, and it charted three times:


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

In his autobiography Musical Stages, Richard Rodgers says that he wrote the number at a bright tempo, but the film’s musical director wanted it performed as a slow ballad. The studio promised to reshoot the scene if the ballad tempo didn’t work. It did, and the songwriters were overruled.

Unlike Lorenz Hart, who wrote lyrics to fits Rodgers’ music, Hammerstein wrote the lyrics first and Rodgers set them to music. Rodgers explains how he composed music to amplify the meaning of the words. “The first lines are: ‘I’m as restless as a willow in a wind storm,/I’m as jumpy as a puppet on a string.’ Taking its cue directly from these words, the music itself is appropriately restless and jumpy. Moreover, since the song is sung by a young girl who can’t quite understand why she feels the way she does, I deliberately ended the phrase on the uncertain sound of the F natural (on the word ‘string’) rather than on the more positive F sharp.”

William Zinsser, in Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs, says “Hammerstein’s lilting lyric for ‘It Might as Well Be Spring’...led Rodgers by the hand to one of his most delicate melodies.” In his book Can’t Help Singin’ Gerald Mast sums up the perfect blend of words and music in the song, referring to the songwriters’ teamwork as “musical-verbal onomatopoeia.” “The meanings and sounds of Hammerstein’s words are inseparable from the sounds and feelings of Rodgers’ music.”

In Reading Lyrics, editors Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball say of the lyricist, “Hammerstein’s simple and sincere lyrics, carefully wrought, if at times edging toward corniness, reflected the late-war and post-war mood of America and have kept their power over us....”

The verse sets the restless mood of the song: “The things I used to like I don’t like anymore” and “I sit around and mope.’” Brother and sister, played by Haymes and Crain, are preparing to attend the annual fair with the family. Neither is looking forward to the trip and both are wishing for more excitement in their lives. They equate the mood to spring fever: “I’d say that I had Spring fever, But I know it isn’t Spring.” Happily both of them fall in love at the fair.

In her book Hollywood Sings!: An Inside Look at Sixty Years of Academy Award-Nominated Songs, Susan Sackett relates a story about the song’s title. “Hammerstein thought that the heroine...should be in a spring-feverish mood, but state fairs are held in summer or fall, not spring. After mulling it over, he asked Rodgers’ opinion, complaining to his partner, ‘It might as well be spring,’ since that’s how she was feeling. ‘That’s it!’ shouted the composer.”

Not only has the song been sung by such luminaries as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, and Mel Torme, it has captured the interest of young vocalists Stacey Kent and Karrin Allyson, who lends it an unusual samba beat on her CD I Didn’t Know About You. The song is also popular with instrumentalists such as guitarist Mark Elf and guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli; pianists Brad Mehldau and Jacky Terrasson; organist Richard “Groove” Holmes; trumpeter Donald Byrd; and bassist Jay Leonhart. Saxophonists Frank Morgan and Ike Quebec titled albums after the song.

More information on this tune...

Susan Sackett
Hollywood Sings!: An Inside Look at Sixty Years of Academy Award-Nominated Songs
Pub Overstock Unlimited Inc
Paperback: 332 pages

(Sackett tells anecdotes and relates the history of the song.)
See the Reading and Research links on this page for additional references.

- Sandra Burlingame

Recommendations for This Tune
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Kenny Dorham, Cannonball Adderley
Blue Spring
Original Recording 1959

Trumpet virtuoso Dorham delivers a slyly swinging performance here, aided by a diverse cast of soloists including alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, pianist Cedar Walton and David Amram on French horn.

Ella Fitzgerald
Ella in Hollywood
Original Recording 1961

In this live performance, Ella delivers “It Might As Well Be Spring” tenderly in an intimate small-group setting.

Bill Evans Trio
Moon Beams
Original recording 1962

Evans delivers a characteristically lyrical, searching ballad performance here, aided by the sensitive drumming of longtime collaborator Paul Motian.

Stan Getz with Astrud Gilberto
Getz Au Go Go
Polygram Records
Original Recording 1964

Having already recorded “It Might As Well Be Spring” in a more traditional ballad format in 1951, saxophonist Getz re-invents the song here with a Brazilian lilt, featuring the vocals of Astrud Gilberto and the lush vibraphone comping of a young Gary Burton.


- Noah Baerman

Brad Mehldau
Progression: Art of the Trio Vol. 5
2001 Warner Bros 48005
Original recording 2001
High improvisation and a 7/4 time signature make this reading both intriguing and challenging for the listener. Pianist Mehldau meticulously sifts through the ballad, extracting nuggets and casting aside the fool’s gold.
Joshua Redman
Timeless Tales for Changing Times
1998 Warner Bros 47052
Original recording 1998
In a snappy reading from Redman, the saxophonist breathes fresh life into the song, accelerating the tempo and applying a layer of pure bop polish to the chassis.
Jacky Terrasson/Cassandra Wilson
1997 Blue Note 55484
Original recording 1997
No surprise here that both pianist Terrasson and vocalist Wilson are engaged in a highly original interpretation of the song that plays with both style and tempo. It comes off as moody, atmospheric and deliciously dark.
Monty Alexander, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis
Triple Scoop
2002 Concord Records
Original Recording 1987
Piano, bass, and guitar all have a turn at carrying the melody on this joyful rendition of the song. This 2-disc set is a compilation of three LP’s by the trio, two of which feature Johnny Frigo on violin.

- Ben Maycock

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