Irving Berlin’s Harlem ‘Ritz’ Write-out

puttin on the ritz still 1930Puttin’ on the Ritz is a popular song written and published in 1929 by Irving Berlin and introduced by Harry Richman in the musical film Puttin’ on the Ritz (1930). The title derives from the slang expression “putting on the Ritz”, meaning to dress very fashionably.

Here’s Harry Richman singing the original lyrics in 1929:

The expression was inspired by the swanky Ritz Hotel. One version of the song gives Gary Cooper as an example of someone who puts on the Ritz. The original version of Berlin’s song included references to the then-popular fad of well-dressed but poor black Harlemites parading up and down Lenox Avenue. For the film Blue Skies (1946), where it was performed by Fred Astaire, Berlin revised the lyrics to apply to affluent whites strutting “up and down Park Avenue” (see the original lyrics below).

Here’s the original lyrics:

Have you seen the well-to-do
Upon Lennox Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air

High hats and Colored collars
White spats and fifteen dollars
Spending every dime
For a wonderful time

If you’re blue
And you don’t know where to go to
Why don’t you go where Harlem flits
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Spangled Gowns upon the bevy of
High browns from down the levee
All misfits
Puttin’ on the Ritz

That’s where each and every lulu-belle goes
Every Thursday evening with her swell beaus
Rubbin’ elbows

Come with me and we’ll attend their jubilee
And see them spend
Their last two bits
Puttin’ on the Ritz

(Boys, look at that man puttin’ on that Ritz)
(You look at him, I can’t)

If you’re blue
And you don’t know where to go to
Why don’t you go where Harlem flits
Puttin’ on the Ritz
Spangled Gowns upon the bevy of
High browns from down the levee
All misfits
Puttin’ on that certain Ritz

That’s where each and every lulu-belle goes
Every Thursday evening with her swell beaus
Rubbin’ elbows

Come with me and we’ll attend their jubilee
And see them spend
Their last two bits
Puttin’ on the Ritz

Come with me and we’ll attend their jubilee
And see them spend
Their last two bits
Puttin’ on the Ritz

Here’s the re-write for the movie with Fred Astaire (1936):

Have you seen the well-to-do
Up and down Park Avenue?
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air.High

 

 

Come let’s mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks and um-ber-ellas
In their mitts…
Puttin’ on the Ritz.
Puttin’ on the Ritz.
Puttin’ on the Ritz.
PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ!

 

Text from www.wikipedia.comVideo from youtube.com

 

hat and arrow collars,
White spats
and lots of dollars,
Spending every dime
For a wonderful time.If you’re blue and you don’t where to go to
Why don’t you go where fashion

 

 

sits?
Puttin’ on the ritz.
Different types who wear a day coat

Pants with stripes and cut-a-way coats,
Perfect fits…
Puttin’ on the Ritz.Strollin’ up the avenue so happy
All dressed up just like an English chappy
Very snappy.

Come let’s mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks and um-ber-ellas
In their mitts…
Puttin’ on the Ritz.

If you’re blue and you don’t where to go to
Why don’t you go where fashion sits?
Puttin’ on the ritz.
Different types who wear a day coat
Pants with stripes and cut-a-way coats,
Perfect fits…
Puttin’ on the Ritz.

Dressed up like a million dollar trouper
Trying hard to be like Gary Cooper
Super-Duper.

 

 

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