The Man I Love

Reviewed by mojo

Okay, so just last week I reviewed the live version of this song as recorded for the Berlin album, and I looked ahead on the list and saw this one was coming down the pike, and I do admit I groaned a little tiny bit. Because I feel a little tepid about this song, to be honest, as you might have guessed from the first review. Still, leave it to a couple of pros like Ella and Nelson to make magic out of the seemingly banal. There's been an amusing new saying going around the net lately--I think I first saw it on the lolcats site--that says something like, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade--but if you don't have any water or sugar handy, your lemonade is going to really, really suck." So Ella and Nelson are the sugar and water, respectively, that creates magic out of the ordinary.

Of course one of these days I shall get around to acknowledging that, just because Mojo happens to not like something, that doesn't mean said thing is utterly devoid of value. "The Man I Love" has been a pop standard for probably more than twice the time I've been alive, so what do I know? Precious little, that's what. Ella certainly liked it; as of this writing I've found no less than THREE video versions of it on YouTube (scroll down for the links). And the video versions, which let Ella play and scat a lot more than her somewhat white bread studio versions, do a lot to make me appreciate this song more than I ordinarily would.

Still, ya gotta like the orchestration, here. I assume Nelson Riddle arranged it, and he takes his sweet time getting around to Ella. He uses this time wisely, letting various sections of the orchestra set a mood that Ella matches nicely. And, like I've said so many times before you must be sick of it by now .... Ella's control is just absolutely superb, and the long sustains on this song really show that off.

My only complaint about this is actually an album-wide complaint, where I think they've put a hair too much reverb on Ella compared to everyone else on the recording. Back in the day when I'd make Ella mix tapes for the car (yes, kids, Mojo is indeed THAT OLD) all the Gershwin ones compared to the other albums sounded like they were recorded in a big metal pipe. But I tell you what: I'd rather have Ella singing down a big metal pipe than no Ella at all. So whatever. Have a good weekend!

The Man I Love (1959)

Click below to hear a sample--or scroll down for associated media: 
Disc Number: 
George Gershwin
Ira Gershwin

From Wikipedia:


"The Man I Love" is a popular standard, with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by his brother Ira. Originally part of the 1927 score for the Gershwin antiwar musical satire Strike Up the Band, the song was removed from the 1930 version of the show, and, as with many standards of the era, has become more famous as an independent popular song than as one from a Broadway musical.

Popular torch singer Helen Morgan first made the song into a big success. [1]

Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Lena Horne recorded versions of this song, as did Ella Fitzgerald for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook (1959). On this version, Ira Gershwin commented, "I didn't realize our songs were so good until Ella sang them.". Hazel O'Connor recorded a version for her Smile album in 1984.

Cher recorded the song for her album Bittersweet White Light (1973).

Barbra Streisand recorded the song for her album Back to Broadway (1993).

In 1995, Tony Bennett recorded the song for his MTV Unplugged performance with lyrics revised by Ira Gershwin as "The Girl I Love".

In 2006, Israeli musician Ivri Lider recorded a version of the song as a part of the soundtrack from the movie The Bubble.

In 2008, Malian musician Rokia Traoré recorded the song for her album Tchamanché. She had previously performed it in 2005 as a duet with Dianne Reeves.