Bunny Berigan first recorded “I Can’t Get Started”
with a small group that included Joe Bushkin, Cozy Cole
and Artie Shaw in 1936.
Earlier that same year, the song,
written by Ira Gershwin and Vernon Duke,
and rendered as a duet patter number by Bob Hope and Eve
Arden, made its debut on Broadway in The Ziegfeld Follies.
By 1937, when Berigan re-recorded it in a big-band setting,
“I Can’t” had become his signature song,
even though, within a few months, Billie Holiday would record
her astonishing version backed
by Lester Young and the rest of the Basie Orchestra.
Lovers for a time, Lee Wiley and Berigan began appearing
together on Wiley’s fifteen-minute CBS radio spot,
Saturday Night Swing Club, in 1936.
Berigan died from alcoholism-related causes on June 2, 1942.
Although “I Can’t Get Started” is perfectly suited to Wiley’s
deep phrasing and succinct vibrato, she recorded the ballad only
once, informally, in 1945, during a Town Hall performance date.
The Spanish Civil War started in 1936 and ended in 1939
with Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s forces entering Madrid.
“I’ve settled revolutions in Spain” goes Gershwin’s lyric, just as odd.