“You Couldn’t Be Cuter” – Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields

22 Apr

1344342170-mI like to sing to my cat. I’m not sure she appreciates it; she usually just stares at me with her big eyes. But I keep singing, because I can’t help it. I have this urge to sing to someone and only my cat is relatively receptive to this. The sad truth is that, unlike in movies, people are not willing to sit still while you serenade them for a few minutes…even if you do sound like Dorothy Lamour, Doris Day or Ella Fitzerald (which I do not, alas).

But still, I defiantly sing on!

The latest song I have had in my head is “You Couldn’t be Cuter.” The music was written by Jerome Kern (of Show Boat fame) and the lyrics by Dorothy Fields (who wrote the lyrics for Kern’s songs in Swing Time). It was written for Irene Dunne to sing in the comedy The Joy Of Living. She plays a Broadway singer who evidently doesn’t know how to enjoy life until Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. come along. Has anyone seen it? I never have, but I usually enjoy Irene Dunne, so I am curious to check it out sometime.

Irene Dunne seems to have appeared in a number of Jerome Kern musicals: Roberta (with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), High, Wide and Handsome, Show BoatSweet Adeline. Since Jerome Kern represents a transitional figure between European Operetta and American popular music, perhaps it isn’t surprising that her voice turned out to be well suited for his music. He wrote some of the loveliest melodies of all the great American composers. Can you imagine Irene Dunne singing George Gershwin? Not as well…though I’m sure she must have at some point or other.

Anyway, Irene Dunne was not generally a recording artist and so when “You Couldn’t Be Cuter” was first heard on radio, it was performed by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra and it became a hit.

And where would we be without Ella Fitzgerald. She sang this song as part of her Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook.

I am not sure who the vocalist is, but this version is done by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra.


Posted by on April 22, 2016 in Music


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

15 responses to ““You Couldn’t Be Cuter” – Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields

  1. B Noir Detour

    April 22, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    What a fun post and song! I love Dunne in Roberta, and I had to smile at her soprano version of the song so loud that it is more likely to wake the kids than put them to sleep. I prefer it in the alto range in the Dorsey version.

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      April 22, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      Thank you! I know what you mean – those kids do look awfully alert, don’t they! And she sings it with so much pep and speed. 🙂

      Robert is a lot of fun…and I love the song she sings: “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” Jerome Kern seems to have written some of the loveliest songs of that era.

      Liked by 1 person

      • B Noir Detour

        April 22, 2016 at 4:55 pm

        I’ll always be a Cole Porter gal, but Kern is delightful.

        Liked by 1 person

        • christinawehner

          April 22, 2016 at 5:05 pm

          Cole Porter is marvelous! I think what I love most about Cole Porter are his lyrics, which isn’t to say I don’t like his melodies. But I really notice his lyrics. It feels like the opposite with Kern (not that he wrote his own lyrics).

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Silver Screenings

    April 23, 2016 at 11:48 am

    I was listening to these while catching up on my blog reading. My fave is the Ella Fitzgerald version, but I loved the differences with each band/performer.

    Happily, I’ll be humming this tune for the rest of the day – Ella’s version, of course! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      April 23, 2016 at 1:06 pm

      Oh yes, she’s the top! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It is fascinating to hear how people sing/perform the same song.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Richard Swymeler

    April 25, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Christina, thank you for this post! I had not heard Irene Dunne sing that adorable song before. What treat to have been ‘sung to’ in bed by someone with such a beautiful voice – but it looks like she was the sleepy one! I loved how the girls finished the song – it’s kind of reminiscent of how we enjoyed, as children being sung to sleep – but then I’m sure the parents were just as tired as Irene appeared to be in the movie.

    I love Ella Fitzgerald and she had such a pleasing way of blending in with the music yet the ability to ‘team’ with the band.

    My mom loved all the Big Band Music and Jazz. I’m so happy that I took an early interest to this diverse style that still makes a happy note in our hearts today!

    I don’t know if you’ve watched or not, but PBS had a replay of Ken Burn’s powerful mini-series “Jazz” – that covered this incredible period in American Jazz Music and Swing!

    As always, we so enjoy your posts – keep them coming
    Kind Regards,
    Richard & Penny

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      April 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      I’ve never seen Ken Burns’ “Jazz” – I’d heard of it, but completely forgot about it! Thanks so much for sharing it with me!

      So true…it would be awfully hard to go to sleep with someone like Irene Dunne singing. I’d want to stay awake and listen for as long as she would sing…or until she fell asleep. 🙂

      Love your description of Ella Fitzgerald! She is marvelous…the one who first really got me interested in Big Band and Jazz.


  4. Vienna

    April 25, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Love Irene Dunne in anything. I saw Joy of Living ages ago and enjoyed it.
    All these great composers ,Kern, Porter, Berlin, the Gershwins, wrote some terrific songs for Broadway and the movies.
    Irene was definitely a Kern gal. She gets some great songs in High Wide and Handsome including The Folks who live on the hill. And of course Show Boat is sublime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      April 25, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Glad to hear The Joy of Living is a fun film! I’m definitely going to have to check it out…and High, Wide and Handsome. Is that were “The Folks Who Live on the Hill” comes from? It was a song I’d heard, but did not know the origins of.

      “Sublime”…I so agree.


  5. Vienna

    April 25, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    I seem to remember that Lucille Ball plays Irene’s sister in law.
    Yes, Folks Who Live on the Hill comes from High Wide and Handsome. Peggy Lee does a lovely version of it.
    One of my favoritewesterns is Johnny Guitar and I love Peggy’s singing of the title song.

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      April 25, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      Oooh….Lucile Ball, an added bonus!

      Oddly enough, I just got Johnny Guitar from the library and have been waiting to watch it this week. Will have to look out for Peggy Lee singing the title song.


  6. Vienna

    April 25, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Hope you like it! The title song is haunting .
    Glad to have found your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Vienna

    April 25, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Meant to add that I will be attending a concert by the Scottish National Orchestra next month devoted to Cole Porter. Principal singer is American Kim Criswell who is the modern day Ethel Merman.
    The BBC Proms this summer is featuring the music of Gershwin by the John Wilson orchestra. It is usually televised so I hope to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      April 25, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      Oh, that should be extraordinary! I’ve never heard Kim Criswell sing, but I adore Ethel Merman. There is not more that is more thrilling than hearing it live, is there?

      I appreciate the info about the John Wilson Orchestra, too! I’m in America, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see it or not…but I’ll look. Sometimes it’s broadcast in select theaters, I think.



What Are Your Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: