You’re The Cream In My Coffee

It was 1928 and Annette Hanshaw (18 October 1901 – 13 March 1985) had a hit on her hands with “You’re The Cream In My Coffee” from the Broadway show “Hold Everything.”    A simple emotion was made into a catchy list of facts about love and it caught on with scores of people.  Little every day things were woven into the complexity of love as it opened with these two stanzas:

You’re the cream in my coffee,
You’re the salt in my stew;
You will always be my necessity —
I’d be lost without you.

You’re the starch in my collar,
You’re the lace in my shoe;
You will always be my necessity —
I’d be lost without you.

The reviews for the show on Broadway and in London were positive, with one reviewer writing for “Eve’s Film Review” was impressed with many aspects of the show.  In fact, some of the review included these comments:

Girls do high kicks and cartwheels over the arms of boys. The dancers go underneath each others’ arms and do a bit of the Charleston.

The song was a flapper era favorite and everyone from Annette Hanshaw to Ted Weems (26 September 1901 – 6 May 1963) and his Orchestra, and Ruth Etting (23 November 1897 – 24 September 1978) on to Marlene Dietrich (27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992) seemed to record a version of the popular song by 1930.  By then, the show was so well received that Hollywood came knocking and turned it into a movie.

You’re The Cream In My Coffee” is the kind of song that weathered the ages well.  When Nat King Cole (17 March 1919 – 15 February 1965) covered the song with his trio, he brought a certain jazzy smoothness to a song that already had a personality all its own.

More recently the Graham Dalby and The London Swing Orchestra recorded and released a version of this song with its own updated arrangement that doesn’t stray far from the original.  What’s interesting is that the song is as fresh in this arrangement as it was when it was first released.

The song is almost ninety years old at this point, and while it’s obvious to listeners that it’s an older song (due in large part to the lyrics), the bottom line is this: It’s a song with great legs and great bones.  In the end, you can’t ask for anything better than that from songwriters.

Elyse Bruce


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