I Get Along Without You Very Well

  • The Song
  • Back Stories
composition date
Hoagy Carmichael

Poetry in music

Though lyric writing and poetry are two distinct arts, some lyrics have derived from poems. Hoagy Carmichael took a poem by Jane Brown Thompson as the inspiration for “I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometime).” Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In” was based on a poem by Bob Fletcher. Porter intended the song to be a parody but, like his “Wunderbar,” it was taken seriously. The song was written in 1944 for an unproduced film. It wasn’t until Roy Rogers sang it in Hollywood Canteen that the song was introduced to the public.

While Carmichael was attending Indiana University, a friend gave him a poem to set to music. Carmichael wrote out a tune and promptly forgot about it until a few years later when he came across the manuscript. However, he couldn’t identify the author of the poem. He turned to columnist Walter Winchell, who broadcast the first few lines on his radio show. Forty-eight pretenders to the lyric responded before it was discovered that the poem had been published in the original Life magazine. Dick Powell premiered the song on January 19, 1940, one day after Mrs. Thompson died.

Bookmark and Share
The 3 part PBS Series
Own the DVD