Pick Yourself Up
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"Pick Yourself Up" is a popular song composed in 1936 by Jerome Kern, with lyrics by Dorothy Fields. It has a verse and chorus, as well as a third section, though the third section is often omitted in recordings. Like most popular songs of the era it features a 32 bar chorus though with an extended coda and its rhyming scheme is AABA style, with some variations among the A sections.
The song was written for the film Swing Time (1936), where it was introduced by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Rogers plays a dance instructor whom Astaire follows into her studio; he pretends to have "two left feet" in order to get her to dance with him. Astaire sings the verse to her and she responds with the chorus. After an interlude, they dance to the tune. (Author John Mueller has written their dance "is one of the very greatest of Astaire's playful duets: boundlessly joyous, endlessly re-seeable.")
Astaire would also record the song on his own that year for the Brunswick label.
The tune served as the theme song for the short-lived 1955–56 prime time television variety series The Johnny Carson Show. It was also the theme song for the 1989–1991 British TV comedy "French Fields" starring Julia McKenzie.
The song has been covered many times, including by:
- Nat King Cole 1944
- George Shearing 1950
- Nat King Cole and George Shearing 1962
- Anita O’Day 1957
- Dakota Staton 1961
- Ella Fitzgerald and Nelson Riddle 1962
- Frank Sinatra arranged and conducted by Neal Hefti 1962
- Mel Tormé 1988
- Natalie Cole 1996
- Diana Krall 1999
- Molly Ringwald 2013
- Wilford Brimley with The Jeff Hamilton Trio 2013
On 20 January 2009, the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, in his inauguration speech, quoted the lyrics in the song, saying "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."Frank Rich linked the lyric to Fields and the movie in The New York Times, writing that it was "one subtle whiff of the Great Depression" in the address.
- Mueller, John (1986). Astaire Dancing - The Musical Films. London: Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 0-241-11749-6.
- Obama calls for American renewal, Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor, in "Political Intelligence" column, January 20, 2009, Boston Globe
- "No Time for Poetry" by Frank Rich, The New York Times 1-25-09 p. WK10 of NY edition. Retrieved 1-25-09.