Beautiful Bird (partial)


L-R:Brothers Ira, George, & Arthur Gershwin with their cousin Rose Lagowitz at Brighton Beach, 1912.

UPDATE: You can hear the entire song here!

This is only a partial song at this point! Don’t be mad at me. It’s all I had. Accessing the next page involves getting approval from the Library of Congress, which I am still attempting.

“Beautiful Bird” is a song written by George in either 1916 or 1917 and is the earliest surviving George and Ira collaboration. Ira and Lou Paley worked on the lyrics in early 1918. Though they hoped to have a hit by emulating the tone of a popular song at the time “Poor Butterfly,” it was never picked up for publication.

beautiful-bird5The song only exists as melody and lyrics, not fully scored for piano. All chords seen in my sheet music below are my best guess as to how George might have intended it, though I make no guarantees. George did intend for the song to have a four measure musical intro, because he left a space for it in his notebook, though he left those measures blank. The chords I added there are purely speculation and are not meant to suggest that I know what Gershwin would have done.

Again I’m sorry for having the song end three measures in to the chorus. Hopefully that will be remedied soon. In the meantime enjoy the internet premiere of this formerly lost Gershwin song.

Fake-book Style Sheet Music PDF for Beautiful Bird (Partial): beautiful-bird2

And here is what it sounds like:

The entire lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Lou Paley:

I have been haunted by a sound that I heard
Deep in a forest one day.
I heard the piping of a beautiful bird
Telling its love in that way.
I know that chance
Had brought me near to a springtime romance.

Beautiful Bird,
Your plaintive piping I’ve heard.
No bird can sing me a sweeter
Melodious meter than you.
Your trilling lay
Intrigues my senses.
My love commences
Anew each day.
Your throbbing throat
So sweetly swelling
In every note a love tale telling
You love me.
Whene’er you start
You send a dart
And it pierces my heart
With [Whistle].

Additional Lines
“Will’ Oo? Will’ Oo?”
His plaintive “Will’ Oo? Will’ Oo?”
His mate so softly replying
Sent all my thoughts flying to you.
“Will’ Oo? Will’ Oo?”
A strain so thrilling
My heart is filling with love anew.
Will you be true with love that none can undo?
When I’m cooing~”Will’ Oo?”
With love his message was filling me;
His image was thrilling me through.


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