Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock, “The Man I Love”

Not unlike a movie scene that ends up on the cutting room floor, a song sometimes doesn’t survive all the artistic and political vetting necessary to reach the public’s ear, no matter how good it may be. That was the case with what would become one of the great standards of history: Ira and George Gershwin’s “The Man I Love,” which since the 1920s has been recorded by numerous artists, including Joni Mitchell.

Mitchell performed this song of wistful longing on Herbie Hancock’s album Gershwin’s World, with her distinctive pseudo-jazz phrasing making it one of the most unique versions ever. “The Man I Love” was originally written by the Gershwin brothers – lyrics by Ira, music by George – for the 1924 Broadway musical Lady, Be Good, but was cut from the production before it actually hit the stage, and it was also cut from the 1928 Ziegfeld musical Rosalie. It was then recorded by legendary songstress Sophie Tucker, and ended up becoming the very definition of the word “standard.”

Mitchell’s version begins with what was actually the original second verse of the song. In fact, like Mitchell, the majority of the artists who’ve recorded it over nine decades omit the first verse, and open with the second verse’s line of Someday he’ll come along, the man I love. And it works well, as that second verse is really a perfect opener. In Tucker’s version, though, the original first verse is used:

When the mellow moon begins to beam Every night I dream a little dream And of course Prince Charming is the theme The he for me. Although I realize as well as you It is seldom... Sign In to Keep Reading

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