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"Love for Sale" is a song by Cole Porter from the musical The New Yorkers which opened on Broadway on December 8, 1930 and closed in May 1931 after 168 performances.[1] The song is written from the viewpoint of a prostitute advertising "love for sale".

"Love for Sale"
Song by The Peddlers
Released1930 (1930)
Songwriter(s)Cole Porter


Early versionsEdit

The song's chorus, like many in the Great American Songbook, is written in the A-A-B-A format. However, instead of 32 bars, it has 64, plus an 8-bar tag. The tag is often dropped when the song is performed. The tune, using what is practically a trademark for Porter, shifts between a major and minor feeling.[citation needed]


When the song came out in 1930, a newspaper called it bad taste.[2] Radio stations avoided it.[3] Porter moved the scene to the Cotton Club in Harlem and the song was sung by biracial singer Elisabeth Welch instead of white singer Kathryn Crawford.[4] Despite this, popular recordings in 1931 were made by Libby Holman and by Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians.[5]

In 1952, Billie Holiday recorded a version of the song.[3] She had been a prostitute for a while and gave the song some credibility.[3] Other than Holiday, vocalists did not want to take on the risque song at one time, leaving instrumental versions to Sidney Bechet, Erroll Garner, Charlie Parker, and Art Tatum.[3] The taboo had waned by the 1960s.[3]

Elvis Costello released a version of Love For Sale, including the opening verse (prologue), on a Rhino re-lease of his album, "Trust".

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Internet Broadway Database". Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  2. ^ Schwartz, Charles (1979). Cole Porter. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80097-7, pp. 115–116
  3. ^ a b c d e Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. Oxford University Press. pp. 240–241. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  4. ^ Yaffe, David (2006). Fascinating Rhythm: Reading Jazz in American Writing. Princeton University Press. Chapter 4. ISBN 978-1-40082-680-3.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 543. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.

External linksEdit