"I Can't Give You Anything but Love" is an American popular song and jazz standard by Jimmy McHugh (music) andDorothy Fields (lyrics). The song was introduced by Adelaide Hall at Les Ambassadeurs Club in New York in January 1928 in Lew Leslie's Blackbird Revue, which opened on Broadway later that year as the highly successful Blackbirds of 1928 (518 performances), wherein it was performed by Adelaide Hall, Aida Ward, and Willard McLean.


  [hide*1 Background


Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields had already completed the score for their Broadway revue Blackbirds of 1928. However, they still missed one song and it could not be an ordinary production, since the set list where it would be included needed a "smash" tune. The team pondered for a long time but could not come up with anything. One evening, while walking down Fifth Avenue, they saw an young couple window-shopping at Tiffany's. McHugh and Fields understood that the couple did not have the resources to buy jewelry from Tiffany's, but nevertheless they drew closer to them. It was then they heard the man say, "Gee, honey I'd like to get you a sparkler like that, but right now, i can't give you nothin' but love!" Hearing this, McHugh and Fields rushed to a nearby Steinway Tunnel, and within an hour they came up with "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby".[1]

Some controversy surrounds the song's authorship. Andy Razaf biographer Harry Singer offers circumstantial evidence that suggests Fats Waller might have sold the melody to McHugh in 1926 and that the lyrics were by Andy Razaf.[2] Alternatively, Philip Furia has pointed out that Fields' verse is almost identical to the end of the second verse of Lorenz Hart's and Richard Rodgers' song "Where's That Rainbow?" from Peggy-Ann, the 1926 musical comedy with book by Fields' brother Herbertand produced by their father Lew:[3]

Use in the Media[edit]Edit

Notable recorded versions[edit]Edit

The song has been covered by many artists, including:

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga version[edit]Edit

"I Can't Give You Anything but Love"
Single by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
from the album Cheek to Cheek
Released August 19, 2014
Format Digital download
Genre Jazz
Length 3:13
Label *Streamline
Writer(s) Dorothy Fields
Tony Bennett singles chronology
*"Anything Goes"
  • (2014)
*"I Can't Give You Anything but Love"
  • (2014)
Lady Gaga singles chronology
*"Anything Goes"
  • (2014)
*"I Can't Give You Anything but Love"
  • (2014)

Background and composition[edit]Edit

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga released a collaborative jazz album, titled Cheek to Cheek, in 2014.[44] The songs were handpicked by Bennett and Gaga; they selected tracks from the Great American Songbook including "I Can't Give You Anything but Love", "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)", "Sophisticated Lady", "Lush Life", and the title track, "Cheek to Cheek".[45] The version of "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" on Cheek to Cheek has Gaga and Bennett alternating verses alongside piano, a brass section and drums.[46] She also altered the lyrics to sing "Gee, I'd like to say you're looking swell, Tony", who later rejoins with the line "Diamond bracelets won't work, doesn't sell, Gaga".[47]

Release and reception[edit]Edit

"I Can't Give You Anything but Love" was released as the second single from the album on August 19, 2014. Gaga announced the release on Twitter, accompanied by the single's cover art.[48] A reviewer from The Honesty Hour said that "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" was a stronger release as a single than its predecessor from the album, "Anything Goes".[49] Jeff Benjamin from Fuse was positive in his review, saying that "[t]here's a walking bassline, gospel organs and brassy horn blasts to back the pair's soulful crooning. And while we love listening to Gaga and Tony, we really get into the throwback vibe when the trumpet solo kicks in.[50] Jesse David Fox from New York also gave a positive review, stating that "lot has been written about the creative and commercial shortcomings of Gaga's last record, [Artpop], but I, for one, am glad about its failure — because anything that frees her up to record more music with Tony Bennett is a win in my book. 'I Can't Give You Anything but Love' is a great example; Tony Bennett might be 88, but it's Gaga who hasn't sounded this alive in years."[51]

Trey Barrineau from USA Today complimented the duos vocals, saying that the song "really swings".[52] A writer for Next Magazine declared that Gaga sounded "absolutely stellar" in the song, and found it to be a "vocal vehicle" for the artist to "show off" her singing.[53] Debra Kamin from The Times of Israel praised Gaga's vocals on "I Can't Give You Anything but Love", for her range and control.[54] MTV News critic Gil Kaufman described the track as "funky".[55] Alexa Camp fromSlant Magazine gave a negative review, saying that "for a singer who isn't even 30, Gaga's voice is shockingly rough-hewn".[56] After its release, "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" debuted at number-one on the Jazz Digital Songs chart of Billboard, on the week ending September 6, 2014. It was the second song from Cheek to Cheek to top the chart, following previous single, "Anything Goes".[57]

Music video and promotion[edit]Edit

An official music video for the song was released on August 26, 2014. The video was shot in the recording studio and the first half showed Gaga in numerous outfits and wigs, while recording the song and roaming around. Bennett joins the studio sessions later on, singing the song. The final chorus finds the two singers belting together, described as "join[ing] forces for a peculiar, yet potent blend of styles that transcends generations and genres". Along with the music video a remix by Giorgio Moroder was released exclusively in October 2014 to Idolator website. The chords of the original version was changed, with Moroder adding synths and a bassline, complimenting the vocals of Bennett and Gaga.[58]

Jon Blistein from Rolling Stone complimented the video, saying that it "proves [Gaga and Bennett] exude a unique, adorable brand of musical chemistry".[59] Maurice Bobb from MTV News noticed the "bare essence" of the duo in the video and added that Gaga appeared "overwhelmingly subdued", but felt that "her playful energy still shines through as she preens and shimmies to [Bennett's] smooth crooning."[60] Nolan Feeney from Time that Gaga appeared normal in the video and added that "she’s still fun to watch even when she’s just hanging out in the vocal both (and dressed like a relatively normal human, no less)."[61] Katie Atkinson from Billboarddeclared that "If you love the adorable friendship between glam pop queen Lady Gaga and classic crooner Tony Bennett, you'll definitely want to see the breezy behind-the-scenes studio video of the pair for 'I Can't Give You Anything but Love'."[62] Idolator's Mike Wass described the video in detail, calling it the "perfect antidote for Gaga's overwhelming, more-is-more Artpop visuals... The swingin' standard is a nice fit for Gags and Tony. It allows them to riff off each other and ham it up (ever so slightly). Those shenanigans are captured in the studio-based video, which finds Mother Monster modeling a variety of wigs and smoking a cigar. Her suave companion looks a little bemused but he's clearly having a good time."[63] Gaga and Bennett also starred in a commercial for retail company H&M, which would feature the song. The artists announced the news on Instagram.[64]

Credits and personnel[edit]Edit

Credits adapted from "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" digital metadata notes per iTunes Store.[65]


Chart (2014) Peak


France (SNEP)[66] 173
US Jazz Digital Songs (Billboard)[67] 1
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