It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)

it-dont-mean-a-thing-32-sheet-1

PROFILE
Composer Duke Ellington
Lyricist Irving Mills
Year Written 1931
About It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing
This song was one of the first songs to use the word “swing” in the title and this song certainly defined what it meant to swing. Ellington recorded the song with Ivie Anderson on vocals and it was an immediate hit. It has been widely recorded since it was written and the song is a lot of fun to play and to listen to. Significant recordings include those by Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt, Gigi Gryce, Tony Bennett and Thelonious Monk.

Lyrics

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing
It don’t mean a thing, all you got to do is swing
It makes no difference if it’s sweet or hot
Just give that rhythm everything you’ve got
It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing

Session / Album Information

1994

“It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” was recorded and televised live on April 12, 1994 on MTV. The MTV Unplugged album was released in June of that year. The songs from the televised concert were arranged by Tony Bennett and the Ralph Sharon Trio.

This recording released on:

  • 1993: Columbia CD: CK 66214 — MTV Unplugged
  • 2011: Discs #60/61 in The Tony Bennett Complete Collection (88697874602-JK59) MTV Unplugged

1999

“It Don’t Mean a Thing” was recorded in May 1999 and released that same year on the album Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool. It was arranged by Ralph Burns.

This recording released on:

  • 1998: Columbia CD: CK 63668 — Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool
  • 2005: Columbia CD: 94299 — Jazz Moods: Cool   
  • 2011: Disc #65 in The Tony Bennett Complete Collection (88697874602-JK63) Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool

2014

“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” was recorded in 2014 with Lady Gaga and released that year on Cheek To Cheek. It was arranged by Marion Evans. It features Joe Lovano on tenor sax and George Rabbi on trumpet.

This recording released on:

  • 2014: Columbia/RPM/Streamline/Intercept Records: B0021493-02 – Cheek To Cheek (standard edition)
  • 2014: Columbia/RPM/Streamline/Intercept Records: B0021494-02 – Cheek To Cheek (deluxe edition)
  • 2014: Columbia/RPM/Streamline/Intercept Records: B0021861-03 – Cheek To Cheek (Target edition)
  • 2014: Columbia/RPM/Streamline/Intercept Records: B0021688-02 – Cheek To Cheek (HSN edition)
  • 2014: Columbia/RPM/Streamline/Intercept Records: Cheek To Cheek (iTunes edition)

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