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Do It Again

Written: 1922

Music by: George Gershwin

Words by: B. G. Buddy De Sylva

Written for:
The French Doll (show)

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Diana Krall


"Do It Again"

with Diana Krall vocal and piano,
John Clayton, bass; Paulinho Da Costa, percussion; Jeff Hamilton, drums; John Pisano, acoustic guitar,
and members of the Paris Symphony Orchestra
with arrangement by John Clayton and Johnny Mandel,
at the Paris Olympia, December 2, 2001.
The performance is preceded by rehearsal footage.

The concert is available on the DVD
Diana Krall Live in Paris

Amazon iTunes

More Performances of "Do It Again"
in the Cafe Songbook Record/Video Cabinet
(Video credit)


Cafe Songbook Reading Room

"Do It Again"

Critics Corner || Lyrics Lounge

About the Show The French Doll / Origins of the Song

Other songs written for The French Doll currently included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook: none


For a complete listing of songs used in the original Broadway production of this show, see IBDB song list.

book cover: Edward Jablonskie, "Gershwin A Biography"
Edward Jablonski
A Biography,

New York: Doubleday, 1987
(paper bound edition shown)



book cover: The Gershwins
The Gershwins
Robert Kimball and Alfred Simon, Eds.
New York: Atheneum, 1975

Kimball and Simon quote George listing the party goers at Jules Glaenzer's the evening he played and sang "Do it Again" for the first time (more or less in public), and Irene Bordoni demanded to be given the song. Gershwin says:

Let me tell you who was there. There was Paul Whiteman, John McCormack Charles Chaplin, George Carpentier (then training for his fight with Dempsey--there were the Duncan Sisters, Nora Bayes, Zes Confrey, Fred and Adele Astaire, Alex Aarons, Fanny Brice, Marilyn Miller, William Rhinelander Stewart, Noël Coward, Vincent Youmans, Florenz Ziegfeld, and Irene Bordoni. (p. 28)



book cover: Ruth Leon, "Gershwin"
Ruth Leon
London: Haus Publishing,




Eva Gauthier playbill, 1923

Eva Gauthier playbill for "Recital of Ancient and
Modern Music for Voice,
Nov. 1, 1923,
Aeolian Hall,
New York City

Gauthier's accompanist for the "jazz songs" on her program was George Gershwin. As has been widely reported, Gershwin who was keenly aware of the the audience's bias against the popular music on the program, embellished his introduction to the singer's encore, a rendition of "Do it Again," with a quotation from Scheherazade. It was his retort to the palpable classical snobbery in the hall. Much of the audience did not miss Gershwin's alluding to their music. Ironically, the next year in the same hall Gershwin presented himself as a composer of serious music when he debuted Rhapsody in Blue.

"Do it Again" was written by George Gershwin and Buddy De Sylva in either late 1921 or early 1922. According to Gershwin biographer Edward Jablonski, De Sylva, who was already an established lyricist, and Gershwin were together in the office of music publisher Max Dreyfus when De Sylva suggested that they should just sit down and "write a hit." Despite thinking De Sylva wasn't serious, Gershwin found a piano and began noodling a melody with "a slow, sensuous" quality. De Sylva apparently taken by the tune said, "Oh, do it Again," perhaps imploring George to play the passage again or perhaps to create a starting point for the lyric. In either case, his utterance led to the remainder of the lyric which very nicely "coalesced" with the Gershwin's "sensual melody."

Gershwin, who was almost as famous for playing his songs at fashionable New York City parties as he was for writing them, soon after the creation of "Do it Again" found himself playing and singing it at a party given by one of the most prominent party-givers of both New York and Paris, Jules Glaenzer. The party was also attended by French/Italian musical theater chanteuse (and then wife of producer E. Ray Goetz) Irene Bordoni. Jablonski reports that when Bordoni heard Gershwin performing "Do it Again," she rushed over to the piano exclaiming "I must have that damn song! It's for me."* In no time her husband had it interpolatedinto his steamy production of "The French Doll" (which had opened on Broadway on February 20, 1922, with Bordoni as the title character) and Gershwin had his first success of the year (Jablonski, Gershwin, pp. 48-49, hard-bound Ed.).

Irene Bordoni performs another saucy
Gershwin/De Sylva (plus Arthur Francis (pseud. for Ira Gershwin)
number, "I Won't Say I Will (but I won't say I won't),"
which they wrote in 1923 especially for her
in the show Little Miss Bluebeard.

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Gershwin's virtual obsession with playing at parties was apparently good for business, because just as Bordoni heard "Do it Again" played by the composer at a social gathering, so Al Jolson heard "Swanee" similarly performed. His prompt confiscation of this Gershwin song catapulted it into the biggest seller ever in the Gershwin catalog. Paul Whiteman's Victor recording of "Do it Again," though not the hit that Swanee was, reached number one on the charts in June of 1922 and since has become an American standard song.

"Do it Again" recorded by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, March 1922.

George Gershwin turned 24 on September 26, of 1922, and by the time that year was over, he had achieved success on several levels of writing popular music: as a composer of individual songs interpolated into Broadway revues, as was the case with "Do it Again" in The French Doll; as the creator of an entire score for a Broadway show (the bedroom farce, La, La, Lucille, 1919); as the writer of entire scores for Broadway revues; and as the writer of the music of an enormous smash hit, "Swanee." By the time the year was over Gershwin had not only been fully initiated into the world of writing music for Broadway but had proven his versatility in that world.

The first revues for which George Gershwin wrote entire scores were George White's Scandals, a series of stage shows that successfully competed with Florenz Ziegfeld's Follies for almost two decades, finally concluding its run in 1936. George wrote the scores for the 1920-1924 editions, and much of his song production during that period was for these productions. For the 1922 version, Gershwin wrote the music for two works that are still remembered today: One, "Stairway to Paradise," was only his second collaboration with his brother Ira who at the time was writing under the pseudonym Arthur Francis, a name created from the first names of the two younger Gershwin siblings, Francis and Arthur. On "Stairway to Paradise," Ira joined up with Buddy De Sylva and George to write the song that was used as the finale of the first act of the 1922 edition of the Scandals, and has since gone on to become a standard. Aside from that song only two other Gershwin Scandals numbers are remembered now: "Somebody Loves Me," from the 1924 edition, and the one-act "Negro opera," "Blue Monday," (a precursor of Porgy and Bess) that was cut from the 1922 show after opening night because White thought it too depressing for the generally "light-hearted" Scandals. (Kimball and Simon, The Gershwins, p. xxix).

Besides "Swanee" the only other song from this early period that has lasted is "Do it Again," which was introduced in The French Doll by Irene Bordoni. Her energetically seductive rendition of the song certainly helped it on its way to success, and it has since become, along with "Stairway to Paradise" one of two songs from the early Twenties thought to contain elements of Gershwin's mature style.

Along with Irene Bordoni's introduction of "Do it Again," another important early performance of the song came when another French singer, Eva Gauthier" sang it (accompanied by Gershwin himself), as part of her controversial recital of songs "ancient and modern" at Aeolian Hall in New York City on Nov. 1, 1923. Gauthier disconcerted her classically oriented audience by singing songs by Gershwin, Kern, and Berlin in the company of works by "serious" composers such as Bellini, Bartók, Hindemith, Schoenberg, etc. . As her listeners became more and more enthralled by her renditions of the American popular music they demanded an encore. Ms. Gauthier obliged them with "Do it Again," and when they wanted yet more, as Deems Taylor, a supportive critic in attendance, put it, "she had to do it again."

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Critics Corner

Edward Jablonski and Lawrence D. Stewart, "The Gershwin Years: George and Ira"
Edward Jablonski
and Lawrence D. Stewart,
The Gershwin Years -
George and Ira

New York: Doubleday, 1958
For Edward Jablonski and Lawrence D. Stewart, "Do it Again" is one the best early Gershwin songs because it achieves "a quite un-Tin Pan Alleyharmonic distinction by subtly changing from bar to bar with each phrase repetition, an effect that was to become a part of the Gershwin Style" (p. 71 hard cover Ed.).

Howard Pollack

George Gershwin: His Life and Work
Berkeley: Univ. of California Press

George Gershwin and Maurice Ravel were acquainted at least from the time Gershwin approached the Frenchman about studying with him while Ravel was in New York in March of 1928. Later during the same visit, he and Gershwin together attended concerts as well as jazz events in Harlem. Ravel, who was known as an early fan of jazz among classical composers, admired both Gershwin's compositions, which he called "intriguing" as well as his playing of them, the facility of which left the composer of "Bolero" "dumbfounded."

According to Gershwin biographer and commentator Howard Pollack, Ravel's susceptibility to Gershwin may have predated the 1928 visit to New York. Pollack sites David Schiff who suggests that the fox-trot from Ravel's opera L'Enfant et les sortilèges was "modeled" after Gershwin's "Do it Again" (Pollack, p. 119).

Pollack also traces the performances of "Do it Again," especially with regard to the almost impossible to ignore sexual innuendo of title, melody and lyric. He begins with Marilyn Monroe singing it for the troops (Marines at Camp Pendleton in California as well as in Korea in 1952), which "nearly caused a riot." No wonder when Monroe included "little moans of longing and pleasure as she invited someone to 'come and get it, you won't regret it'."

Marilyn Monroe performs "Do it Again"
for the troops in Korea, 1952,
from the Marilyn Monroe Video Archives

Marilyn's recording in 1953 led pretty much directly to her getting the part of Lorelei Lee in the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the role that was largely responsible for her initial attainment of star status. Judy Garland in her 1961 Carnegie Hall concert similarly emphasized the explicit sexual elements of the song. Pollock states Gershwin and De Sylva "clearly had more ironic intentions in mind, but the lyric, with its string of 'no's and 'oh's,' and the melody with its sensuous curves, could easily be made to suggest sexual intercourse" (Pollock, p. 264).

book cover: "The American Popular Ballad of the Golden Era, 1925-1950" by Allen Forte
Allen Forte,
The American Popular Ballad of the Golden Era, 1924-1950
Princeton, Princeton Univ. Press, 1995.

Allan Forte uses "Do it Again" as an example of why Jerome Kern was not, as Jablonksi claims, an important influence in Gershwin's early songs. That "Do it Again" is not Kern-like is revealed in the melody, which is "a simple stepwise melodic contour, entirely bereft of chromatics until the second of a double period" and the rhythmic pattern is a "dotted 'hootchy-kootchy'" that "bespeaks overly hasty improvisation." Furthermore, "there is no bridge." Putting all this together, Forte concludes the song's popularity "must have been the double-entendre lyrics." Forte, perhaps prudishly, notes that "if there is any lingering doubt, 'it' in the song refers to 'The kiss' [bar 10] (Forte, p. 148). The lyric reads at that point, "My lips just ache / to have you take / The kiss that's waiting for you." This account of what the antecedent of the "it" is is of course literally true, but there are very few listeners who will be satisfied by it. They cannot have escaped being coerced by the remainder of the lyric into drawing further conclusions that sense a frank eroticism that goes beyond kissing. (Visit the Cafe Songbook Lyrics Lounge for further discussion on this.)

Book cover: Philip Furia, The Poets of Tin Pan Alley"
Philip Furia, The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America's Great Lyricists,
New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Philip Furia confirms the intention of erotic double-entendre by pointing out that "Do it Again" when sung by Irene Bordoni, the "French Doll" who introduced the song on Broadway, "brought to the lyric not only insouciance but sensuousness" to the degree that the "three little words" of the title "radiated such erotic force that the song was banned from the radio (Furia, Poets of Tin Pan Alley, p. 160, paper-bound Ed.). Also, Furia makes the connection (here and in another place) between the Gershwin/De Sylva use of the phrase "do it" with its double double-entendre generated erotic overtones and Cole Porter's similar intention in his 1928 song "Let's Do It." On the other hand, Furia notes, when Ira Gershwin wrote "Do, do, do / What you've done, done, done / Before baby," he was not going for the erotic; in fact, he "adamantly insisted that his 'do' was purely about kissing and did not smack of 'musical comedy "Smart Smut." It had 'face not body value'"(Philip Furia, Ira Gershwin: The Art of the Lyricist, New York: Oxford UP, 1996, p. 57, hard-bound Ed.).

Ed's. question: Was Ira protesting too much? about songs like his brother's "Do it Again."

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Lyrics Lounge


The versefor "Do it Again" doesn't make it entirely clear that, as many have pointed out, the antecedent of the "it" in the title phrase is a kiss. It's at least possible that what happened to the singer to give her that new thrill was happening while her lover's two lips were pressed to hers, not just the kiss itself. This view might stretch the grammar a bit, but it does take into account all the innuendos that permeate the verse and the refrain.

Tell me, tell me,
What did you do to me?
I just got a thrill
That was new to me.
When your two lips
Were pressed to mine.

And even the direct reference to a "kiss" in the refrain, the one that her lips ache to give him, doesn't make the case for the meeting of their lips being all that was going on. She implores him to kiss her saying, "You know if you do, / You / Won't regret it, / Come and get it." It doesn't take that much to wonder what could possibly make him regret it unless the kiss was all there was to get. De Sylva provides and easy literal interpretation of the lyric for those who might otherwise wish to censor the song, but also gives the listener every opportunity to go in another direction as well, especially when the singer says, "I may cry, 'Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh'." One might ask, did she cry like that while she was being kissed. So much for the literal.

Currently Cafe Songbook does not offer a version of the complete lyrics for "Do it Again.
"The complete and authoritative lyrics for "Do it Again"
can be found in:

book cover: "Reading Lyrics" Ed. by Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball

Reading Lyrics,
Edited and with an Introduction by Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball, New York: Pantheon Books, 2000.


Click here to read Cafe Songbook lyrics policy.

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The Cafe Songbook
Record/Video Cabinet:
Selected Recordings of

"Do It Again"

(All Record/Video Cabinet entries below
include a music-video
of this page's featured song.
The year given is for when the studio
track was originally laid down
or when the live performance was given.)
Performer/Recording Index
(*indicates accompanying music-video)

Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra
album: Paul Whiteman #2 CDN020B

Amazon iTunes

Notes: The "Do it Again" track was recorded on March 28, 1922, Victor recording, 18882-B, instrumental only. This recording reached number one on the charts June 3rd, remaining in that position for two weeks and on the charts for nine weeks. A Whiteman version of "Do it Again" was used as background music in the TV Series Boardwalk Empire.
Video: View and listen in center column, just below.
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June Christy
album: Day Drams

(no music video currently available)

Amazon iTunes

Notes: June Christy's recording of "Do it Again," originally recorded in 1950 shows up on her compilation albums Day Dreams (1995, above) and Cool Christy (2002).
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video before starting another.)

Marilyn Monroe
album: The Very Best of
Marilyn Monroe

Amazon iTunes

Notes: Gershwin biographer Howard Pollack writes "Monroe's 1953 release of ["Do it Again"] helped secure her the role of Lorelei Lee in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which in turn catapulted her to stardom."
Video: Above video is album track. View live performance (not from album) center column below.
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Sarah Vaughan
album: Sarah Vaughan
Sings George Gershwin

Amazon iTunes

Notes: Recorded in New York, March 20, 1957, with Hal Mooney and his studio orchestra and Jimmy Jones on piano. Sarah recorded "Do it Again" twice: in 1957, on the album noted just above, on which she includes the verse; and one other time, live in 1982 (See below). On the 1957 album Sarah sings two very early Gershwin/De Sylva songs with saucy themes: "Do it Again" and "I Won't Say I Will (and I won't say I won't)" both introduced by Irene Bordoni on Broadway in 1922 and 1923 respectively..
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Beverly Kenney
album: Beverly Kenney Sings
for Playboys

Amazon iTunes

Notes: Accompaniment on album: Ellis Larkins on piano and celeste, Joe Benjamin on bass.
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Judy Garland
album: Judy at Carnegie Hall

Amazon iTunes

Notes: The version on the album shown above is live at Carnegie Hall, 1961. Click here to view tracks of Judy Garland singing "Do it Again" on various albums.
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Sarah Vaughan
album: Gershwin Live!

Amazon iTunes

Notes: Sarah recorded "Do it Again" twice: in 1957, shown above; and one other time, live in 1982, at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas with arrangement by Marty Paich. Sarah includes the verse in both performances. The concert performance can be found on the album, Gershwin Live!, shown above, which won a Grammy.
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Shirley Horn
album: Loads of Love

Amazon iTunes

Notes: On the album Shirley Horn is on piano and vocal, Charles Ables on Bass and Steve Williams on drums. Joel Siegel in his liner notes for Horn's I Love You, Paris writes how the singer, at this her debut Paris concert, which took place at the 2000 seat Theatre du Chatalet, took "the sultry 'Do it Again' . . . at the leisurely tempo vetoed by Mercury Records producers thirty years earlier as 'too suggestive.'" After the concert, Horn remarked, "I've never seen so many young people come out to hear my music, much younger than the audiences at home. . . . I was very moved by their support and wanted to give them the best performance I could."
Video: same track as on album above
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Michael Feinstein
album: Michael and George

(music-video currently unavailable)


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1999 (studio) /2001 (live)
Diana Krall
album: When I Look in Your Eyes

Amazon iTunes

Notes: Krall's 2001 live performance in Paris of "Do it Again" can be heard (and seen) on the Cafe Songbook Main Stage above. This album includes her studio recording of the song. When I Look in Your Eyes was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year, the first time in 25 years that a jazz album was nominated for this award. It won two awards: Best Jazz Vocal and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical at the 42nd Grammy Awards. Billboard ranked the album at #9 on the magazine's Top Jazz Albums of the Decade.
Personnel on the album includes: Diana Krall - piano, vocals; Chuck Berghofer - bass; Alan Broadbent - piano; Larry Bunker - vibraphone; Pete Christlieb - saxophone; John Clayton - bass; Jeff Hamilton - drums; Eddie Karam - conductor;; Russell Malone - guitar; Johnny Mandel - conductor; Lewis Nash - drums; Ben Wolfe - bass.

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Rufus Wainwright
album: Rufus Does Judy
At Carnegie Hall

Amazon iTunes

Notes: A 2007 two CD set. "On June 14, 2006, Rufus Wainwright took to the stage to recreate the Greatest Show of All Time in honor of the Greatest Show of All Time: Judy Garland's legendary 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall. He recreated the entire show song-for-song in the very same venue it was recorded at. Garland fanatics feared a fiasco, but the show was a triumph. His sophisticated act of homage to his hero was both a loving tribute and an arch commentary on the original, featuring classics like 'Over The Rainbow', 'Come Rain Or Come Shine' and 'Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart'. Backed by a 36-piece orchestra and arranged by Broadway's famed Stephen Oremus (Wicked, Avenue Q), Rufus's vocal talent soars over those classic melodies" -- Amazon Editorial Revue -- Listen to Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall in 1961 above.
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Kate Ceberano (vocal) Mark Isham (trumpet)
album: Bittersweet

(no music-video currently available)

Amazon iTunes

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