Lester O’Keefe debuted this song at New York’s Globe Theatre in George White’s Scandals of 1920, and it reappeared in the London show Mayfair and Montmartre two years later in 1922. Lester O’Keefe went on to direct for NBC television, but “My Lady” seemingly went nowhere. Evidently, being a Gershwin songs in two successful shows does not guarantee that the song will become a standard.
It’s always fun to speculate on why a Gershwin song never caught on. “My Lady” suffers from a very plain title and lyrics by Arthur Jackson that were designed simply to showcase beautiful women in beautiful gowns on stage. There is little-to-no emotional weight to the lyrics, and any feelings expressed in the verse are squandered by the chorus. Then in the final line of the song the singer brags that his lady is “the best dressed girl in the land.” Inspiring sentiments indeed.
Gershwin’s harmonies are as adventurous as always, and his melody is upbeat and pleasant, though with more compelling lyrics it still may not make the Top 10. I am looking forward to the day when a top-notch lyricist can breathe new life into these Gershwin songs like Yip Harburg did with Jacques Offenbach’s music in The Happiest Girl in the World. Where is Yip Harburg when you need him?
Download fake-book style sheet music to “My Lady” here: My Lady
Lyrics to “My Lady” by Arthur Jackson:
I never tire of raving
about my sweetie’s looks.
She’s like a lovely engraving
you see in picture books.
She makes you sit up in wonder
when she comes into view,
and it’s no wonder that I love her,
because the whole world loves her too.
The little silkworm just spins for my lady,
and for my lady the wild cotton grows.
The lambs at pasture in meadows so shady
are raising wool to make into my lady’s clothes.
The seals and sables raise fur for my lady
from Greenland’s mountains to Africa’s sand.
It seems the whole world works just to make my lady
the best dressed girl in the land.