Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Nobody Else but Me,” as Sung by Donna Byrne


Thanks to vladimirsmartins.

Lightly edited on September 30, 2016


I was a shy, demure type
Inhibited, insecure type of maid
I stayed within my little shell
Till a certain cutie told me I was swell
Now I'm smug and snooty
Confident as hell

Song proper:

I want to be, no one but me,
I am in love with a lover who likes me the way I am,
I have my faults, he likes my faults,
I’m not very bright, he’s not very bright.

He thinks I'm grand, that's grand for me,
He may be wrong, but if we get along,
What do we care, say we?

When he holds me close, close as we can be,
I tell the lad that I'm grateful and I'm glad that,
I'm nobody else but me.

I have my faults, he likes my faults,
I’m not very bright, he's not very bright,
He thinks I'm grand, that's grand for me,
I get a thrill knowing he gets a thrill,
When I sit on his knee.

Walking on the shore, swimming in the sea,
When I am with him, I'm glad that girl who's with him,
Is nobody else but me.

When he holds me close, close as we can be,
I tell the lad that I'm grateful and I'm glad that
I'm nobody else but me.

This was the last song Jerome Kern wrote before his death from a brain hemorrhage at the age of 60, in 1945. Kern wrote it with Oscar Hammerstein II for a 1946 revival their musical, Show Boat which, when it opened in 1927, had revolutionized the Broadway musical.

Jerome Kern gave the world the modern ballad and the modern stage musical.

Prior to World War I, musicals were musical revues with maybe a wisp of a ridiculous storyline to tie one song to another. That began to change during The Great War, as Kern composed a series of “integrated” musicals combining stories and songs at the Princess Theater, with lyricists such as Guy Bolton.

And then came Show Boat. Kern’s lyricist, Oscar Hammerstein II, wrote the first modern stage musical “book,” a full adaptation of Edna Ferber’s eponymous novel. To grasp just how bold Hammerstein was, one is tempted to compare his book for Show Boat to a polished screenplay for a blockbuster movie, only such screenplays didn’t exist at the time! Show Boat opened on Broadway the same year that The Jazz Singer, the first “talkie,” a moving picture with sound, was released. Thus, if anything, rather than movie scriptwriters influencing Hammerstein, he influenced them.

Shortly before his death, Kern had been commissioned by Rodgers & Hammerstein to compose the music for Annie Get Your Gun. The pair were producing the show, but found they had no time to write the songs and book for it. Eventually, they settled on Irving Berlin as a substitute and, the rest, as they say, is history.

Deejay Jonathan Schwartz has often told a story about the death of Jerome Kern. He’d forgotten his pills and was searching for a drug store on East 57th Street, when he was hit with a cerebral hemorrhage. At first he couldn’t be identified and was sent to a poor ward. Eventually, he was identified via his ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Producers) card. Six days later, his longtime collaborator, Oscar Hammerstein II, leaned over Kern’s hospital bed and sang their song, “I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star,” in his ear. When Kern was unresponsive, Hammerstein knew he was dead.

Jerome Kern’s Greatest Songs

“Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat’ Man of Mine”
“‘Ol Man River”
“The Way You Look Tonight”
“The Folks Who Live on the Hill”
“The Last Time I Saw Paris”
“All the Things You are”
“I’m Old-Fashioned”
“I Won’t Dance”
“Nothing’s Impossible (Pick Yourself Up)”
“Long Ago and Far Away”

Collected biographies at

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