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What Is There To Say?

     Several weeks ago, when a Weekly Tune listener e-mailed a request for the song What Is There To Say?  I was grateful for his having reminded me of  a song I’d all but forgotten about..  I used to play it often with clarinetist Herb Hesch but, as frequently happens, it gradually faded from my mind.

     Herb introduced me to the tune and he knew it from the Artie Shaw version of 1938.  The music was written by Vernon Duke (the composer of April in Paris, Autumn in New York,  I Can’t Get Started, among others) with lyrics by Yip Harburg, for the 1934 Ziegfield Follies.

     I thought What Is There To Say? owed its popularity primarily to the Shaw arrangement, but when I looked into the song's history, I was surprised to learn how widely it has been recorded.  Jazzers like Gerry Mulligan, Joe Pass and Bill Evans have done it, but the song also found favor with a great many singers including Ella Fitzgerald, Nat Cole, Mel Torme and Chris Connor.

     Most of the singers seem to take a more languid tempo than Shaw (or Herb) did, so that’s what I’m trying this time around, borrowing, with more admiration than shame, from  the very relaxed rendering of the fine guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli.  Click on the title in red to hear it.  Harburg’s cleverly rhymed lyrics are below.

 What Is There To Say?

What is there to say

And what is there to do?

The dream I was seeking

Has practically speaking come true.

What is there to say

And how will I pull through?

I knew in a moment

Contentment and home meant just you.


You are so loveable, so livable,

You beauty is just unforgiveable.

You’re made to marvel at

And words to that effect

So what is there to say

And what is there to do?

My heart’s in a deadlock

I’d even face wedlock with you.

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