Unforgettable Love Songs of the 1930s

The 1930s was a decade of unforgettable love songs; many of the well-loved classics were written during this period. The 1930s to the 1940s is also known as the Golden Age of Musical Theatre in America. Many musicals were brought to the stage and several were adapted into films. Composers and lyricists continued to collaborate to create beautiful love songs, among them were Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Richard Rodgers.

of 15

Begin the Beguine

Cole Porter
Cole Porter. Sasha / Getty Images

This song was written by one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century; Cole Porter. It was performed in 1935 by Jane Knight in the musical Jubilee. In 1938 the song became popular when Artie Shaw released it as a single.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

When they begin the beguine
it brings back the sound
of music so tender
it brings back a night
of tropical splendor
it brings back a memory of green

Related Video

Listen to Thomas Hampson's beautiful rendition of this song courtesy of YouTube.

of 15

But Not For Me

Gershwin At Work
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Written in 1930 by the brilliant Gershwin brothers; George (music) and Ira (lyrics) Gershwin. This song was performed by Ginger Rogers in the stage musical Girl Crazy; it was also included in a 1932 film of the same title. In 1942, Judy Garland sang this song in another film bearing the same title.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

They're writing songs of love, but not for me,
A lucky star's above, but not for me,
With love to lead the way,
I found more clouds of grey,
Than any Russian play could guarantee.

Related Video

Listen to Eileen Farrell sing "But Not for Me" courtesy of YouTube.

of 15

Cheek to Cheek

Berlin Plays Piano
Henry Guttmann / Getty Images

This unforgettable tune was written by an equally unforgettable songwriter; Irving Berlin. It was first performed by Fred Astaire in the 1935 film Top Hat. Other singers who recorded this song include Julie Andrews, Louis Armstrong, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee and Sarah Vaughan

Lyrics (Excerpt)

Heaven, I'm in heaven
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we're out together dancing cheek to cheek

Related Video

Watch this clip of Fred Astaire singing this song in the movie Top Hat courtesy of YouTube.

of 15

Easter Parade

Easter Parade
Judy Garland in Easter Parade. John Kobal Foundation / Getty Images

Another song written in 1933 by the great Irving Berlin. "Easter Parade" was also included in a 1948 film of the same title starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. Other vocalists also recorded this song including a duet by Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstine.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

In your easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the easter parade.
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I'll be the proudest fellow in the easter parade.

Related Video

Watch this YouTube video of Al Jolson singing "Easter Parade."

of 15

How Deep is the Ocean

Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews. Photoshot / Getty Images

This Irving Berlin song was published in 1932 and eventually became a huge hit. Other artists who recorded this include Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, Judy Garland, Etta James, Frank Sinatra and Julie Andrews.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

How much do i love you?
I'll tell you no lie
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?

Related Video

Listen to Julie Andrew's version of this song from YouTube.

of 15

Isn't It Romantic

Love Me Tonight
Still from Love Me Tonight. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

One of the many song collaborations between Richard Rodgers (music) and Lorenz Hart (lyrics). This song was included in the 1932 film Love Me Tonight starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. Other singers who recorded this song include Carmen McRae, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

Isn't it romantic?
Music in the night,
a dream that can be heard.
Isn't it romantic?

Related Video

Watch this short YouTube clip from the movie Love Me Tonight featuring the song "Isn't It Romantic."

of 15

I've Got You Under My Skin

Frank Sinatra
Art Zelin / Getty Images

Cole Porter wrote this song in 1936 and it was performed by Virginia Bruce in the musical Born to Dance. Dinah Washington recorded this song as well as many other performers, but the one that remains "under our skin" is Frank Sinatra's rendition.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

I've got you under my skin
I've got you deep in the heart of me
So deep in my heart, that you're really a part of me
I've got you under my skin

Related Video

Listen to Frank Sinatra's memorable recording of this song via YouTube.

of 15

My Funny Valentine

Photo of Lorenz HART and Richard RODGERS
Lorenz Hart and Richard Rogers. Redferns / Getty Images

Another Rodgers and Hart collaboration written in 1937 and sung by Mitzi Green in the musical Babes in Arms. Many singers and instrumentalists recorded this song, but Chet Baker's version remains a favorite.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Yet you're my favorite work of art

Related Video

Listen to Chet Baker's sweet voice singing "My Funny Valentine" courtesy of YouTube.

of 15

Night and Day

Photo of Fred ASTAIRE and Ginger ROGERS
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Redferns / Getty Images

Yet another Cole Porter hit song written in 1932 and performed by Fred Astaire in the musical Gay Divorce. A film version of the play was released in 1934 and retitled The Gay Divorcee starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon or under the sun
Whether near to me, or far
It's no matter darling where you are
I think of you day and night

Related Video

Listen to Frank Sinatra sing this song courtesy of YouTube.

of 15

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

The Platters Performing
The Platters. Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

This timeless song was written by Jerome Kern (music) and Otto Harbach (lyrics) in 1933 for the musical Roberta. A film version of the play was released in 1935 featuring Irene Dunne singing the said song. This song was recorded by various artists including Nat King Cole and The Platters.

Lyrics (Excerpt)They asked me how I knew
My true love was true
Oh, I of course replied
Something here inside cannot be denied

Related Video

Reminisce the past by listening to The Platter's version of this song via YouTube.

of 15

The Song Is You

Jerome Kern and Ira Gerswhin Discussing Musical Score
Jerome Kern and Ira Gerswhin. Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

The melody of this song was composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. It was first performed in the 1932 musical Music in the Air. 

Lyrics (Excerpt)

I hear music when I look at you,
A beautiful theme of ev'ry dream I ever knew.
Down deep in my heart, I hear it play,
I feel it start then melt away.

Related Video

Listen to Frank Sinatra singing this song from YouTube.

of 15

The Way You Look Tonight

Billie Holiday performing at Newport Jazz Festival, 1957
Billie Holiday performing at Newport Jazz Festival, 1957. Bill Spilka/Getty Images

This very popular song was another Jerome Kern hit with lyrics by Dorothy Fields. It was included in the 1936 film Swing Time starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Singers who recorded this song include Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. "The Way You Look Tonight" was also featured on several films including the romantic comedy My Best Friend's Wedding. 

Lyrics (Excerpt)

Some day, when I'm awfully low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight.

Related Video

Watch a YouTube clip from the movie Swing Time featuring Fred Astaire singing this lovely song.

of 15

They Can't Take That Away From Me

Ella Sings
Ella Fitzgerald. George Konig / Getty Images

This memorable song was written by Ira and George Gershwin in 1937. It was first performed by Fred Astaire in the film "Shall We Dance." It was also recorded by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan, to name a few.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
No they cant take that away from me

Related Video

Watch the great Tony Bennett and Elvis Costello perform this song courtesy of YouTube.

of 15

This Can't Be Love

Nat 'King' Cole Recording
Nat 'King' Cole. Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Another well-received song collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. The song was featured in the 1938 musical The Boys from Syracue. 

Lyrics (Excerpt)

This can't be love because I feel so well
No sob, no sorrow, no sight
This can't be love I get no dizzy spells
My head is not in the skies

Related Video

Nat King Cole's version of this song via YouTube.

of 15

Where or When

Stan Getz 1990
Stan Getz. Redferns / Getty Images

Rodgers and Hart were certainly on a roll during the 1930s. This song was performed by Ray Heatherton in the 1937 musical Babes In Arms. Many singers recorded this song including Peggy Lee and Julie Andrews; instrumentalists like Stan Getz and Benny Goodman also recorded this song.

Lyrics (Excerpt)

It seem we stood and talked like this before
We looked at each other in the same way then
But I can't remember where or when

Related Video

Listen to Ray Heatherton's classic recording of this song from YouTube.