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Ask Me Again

c 1930

Music by: George Gershwin

Words by: Ira Gershwin

Written for: undetermined
(See About Origins of the Song, below)

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Nancy La Mott


"Ask Me Again"

accompanied by
Christopher Marlowe on piano
from the album Ask Me Again.
This track recorded at Atlantic City Entertainment Studios, Atlantic City, NJ 1988.
More info on the album below.


More Performances of "Ask Me Again"
in the Cafe Songbook
Record/Video Cabinet
(Video credits)


Cafe Songbook Reading Room

"Ask Me Again"

Critics Corner || Lyrics Lounge

About the Origins of the Song

Howard Pollack

George Gershwin: His Life and Work
Berkeley: Univ. of California Press

In January, 1988, Stephen Holden wrote in the New York Times, "It's no wonder that a trove of musical theater manuscripts, including the largest collection of Gershwiniana to be found since George Gershwin's death, has caused ripples of anticipation ever since it was discovered in a Secaucus, N.J., warehouse in 1982" by a young Michael Feinstein who was researching material for Ira Gershwin. Much of the Secaucus cache was written in the late 1920s or early 1930s but remained unpublished until April, 1991, when many of the newly found songs were included in the folio Rediscovered Gershwin. One of those songs "Ask Me Again," was, according to Feinstein, considered by Ira Gershwin to be the best of the unpublished material. Ira more or less remembered that the song was originally written for the 1930 show Girl Crazy but not used apparently because there was too much competition in the show from a plethora of great songs. Gershwin biographer and critic Howard Pollack notes, however, that the tune's "nascent inspiration" preceded Girl Crazy being technically reminiscent of the Gershwins' eventually aborted operetta East is West on which the creative work began in late 1928 and continued into 1929 before being abandoned. "Ask Me Again" was, however, down but not out. It was considered for but not used in The Goldwyn Follies, a movie of 1938 which was the the final project on which George worked before his death in July, 1937. Howard Pollack writes, "Thought by Ira to be the finest of his unpublished songs, 'Ask Me Again' finally saw the light of day [on Broadway] when Brian Mitchell introduced it in David Merrick's 1990 production of Oh, Kay" (Pollack, p. 450). In any case, the song was not recorded and no doubt never widely heard, until 1986, when Feinstein taught it to Rosemary Clooney who recorded it accompanied by Feinstein on her album Mostly Mercer. The Clooney recording appeared several years before Merrick's above mentioned interpolations of the song into both his 1990 and 1991 revivals of the 1926 Gershwin show Oh, Kay!. Nancy Lamott's 1988 recording with accompaniment by Christopher Marlowe also preceded the Merrick revivals.
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Critics Corner
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Lyrics Lounge

1991 folio of
previously unpublished
Gershwin songs
available from



Ask Me Again by [Gershwin, George, Ira Gershwin]
digital sheet music
for "Ask Me Again"
available from



Robert Kimball, Ed. The Complete Lyrics Of Ira Gershwin, New York: Alfred A. Knoph, 1993; shown here reprinted as paperback by Da Capo Press, 1998.




Typically Gershwin lyrics begin with a verse, a brief introductory section that typically connects the song's refrain to the plot, characters or themes of the show for which the song was written. "Ask Me Again," for which there is no verse, never made it into a show until it was interpolated into the 1990 and 1991 revivals of the Gershwins' 1924 musical Oh, Kay! This was some sixty years after the Gershwins wrote the song and after both George and Ira had died. So it's not unreasonable to deduce they never wrote a verse because they didn't know where or how the song was going to be used when they wrote it -- and weren't around when it finally was used.

The central trope of Ira Gershwin's lyric is the title expression "ask me again" which is not a literal request to hear a question asked over and over but rather a way of satisfying the singer's relentless need to describe his feelings for his new love.


He is so much moved by what his new love does to him that he wants to make sure everyone, especially the person he is directly addressing, knows who she is and even more what effect she has on him. And although he has difficulty containing himself on the subject of her, he is apparently too reserved and/or well mannered (Note how Ira, at several points, prefaces his requests with "Please") to speak without being spoken to. The emotional predicament he finds himself in drives the lyric. He tries to extricate himself from the predicament not only by asking to be asked about her but by dictating questions that themselves contain the answers he wants to hear and which reveal his feelings:

Ask me again
Who's the one I've begun to adore.
Ask me again
Who's the partner my heart pounded for.

He is devilishly clever in the way he phrases his questions so that they contain figures of speech that capture his emotional predicament.

Who is the who has me tied in a bow knot
So that I know not
Just where I'm at?

Another goal he hopes to achieve by asking for advice is to figure out how to untie the "bow knot" that is constricting his ability to explain how he has felt "from the start," how she has reduced him to having a "one track heart and mind," how she is "the one he has looked high and low for" and the one "whom he will go for his whole life through." (Note the wonderful feminine rhyme between "go for" and "low for." But of course he is not really unable to ask her these things, because the last two lines of the first refrain resolve for us, if we hadn't figured it out already, that he has all along been describing his predicament to none other than the object of his affection:

Please ask me again --
Let me shout to the world:
It's you.

By this point, halfway through the lyric, a certain tension is alleviated because everybody is in on it: He's speaking to his new love. The second refrain is mostly an opportunity for the singer to continue to drive home his feelings for her (and to her) and for Ira to demonstrate the fecundity of his lyric-writing gift.

Who thrills me more than the circus of Ringling?
Who keeps me tingling
From head to toe?

Lines such as these show how Ira can convert the merely sensational into the truly poetic and have his audience as well as his character tingling from head to toe.

All examples from lyrics taken from
The Complete Lyrics of Ira Gershwin.

The sheet music for "Ask Me Again" was first published in 1991 in the folio
Rediscovered Gershwin

The authoritative lyrics can also be found in The Complete Lyrics of Ira Gershwin:

Click here to read Cafe Songbook lyrics policy.


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Posted Comments on "Ask Me Again":


Posted by VocalDiva 10/24/2017:

YouTube has videos of "Ask Me Again" by Michael Feinstein, Rosemary Clooney, Victoria Hart and Nancy La Mott as well as some instrumental piano recordings. Feinstein discovered the "lost" song in 1983 in stash of Gershwin music found in a Secaucus, NJ warehouse.  Ira believed it was the best of their unpublished songs. It is believed that Rosemary Clooney was the first to record the song. I hope more information can be added soon as it is a really lovely song and deserves to be better known.

Cafe Songbook responds: We agree and will get to work on "Ask Me Again" soon. Also, besides the wonderful Songbook artists such as Rosemary Clooney and Nancy LaMott, scanning YouTube for "Ask Me Again," one comes across Leslie Sorci (c 2010) accompanied by Dean Burns performing "Ask Me Again," a version that is worth hearing:

Leslie Sorcie accompanied by Dean Burns c. 2010
perform "Ask Me Again."

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Credits for Videomakers of videos used on this page:

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The Cafe Songbook
Record/Video Cabinet:
Selected Recordings of

"Ask Me Again"

(All Record/Video Cabinet entries below
include a music-video
of this page's featured song.
The year given is for when the studio
track was originally laid down
or when the live performance was given.)

Performer/Recording Index
(*indicates accompanying music-video)

Rosemary Clooney
(accompanied by Michael Feinstein)
album: Mostly Mercer


Notes: "This various-artists collection of specially recorded songs in small-band arrangements does not pretend to feature Johnny Mercer's best or best-known songs, instead combining the well-known ('You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,' 'Blues in the Night') with many interesting obscurities. Nor, as the title indicates, is the album given over entirely to Mercer. There are two ringers, both debut recordings: 'Ask Me Again,' a George and Ira Gershwin song discovered by Michael Feinstein, who accompanies Rosemary Clooney in performing it, and 'Time You Old Gypsy Man,' lyricist E.Y. Harburg's final song." ~ William Ruhlmann
(from the CD Universe page for this album).

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Nancy LaMott and Christopher Marlowe
albums: Jazz City: Vocal Sessions,
Vol. 14
; and Ask Me Again



Notes: The track above is found on two CDs (titles noted above). The track was recorded at Atlantic City Entertainment Studios, Atlantic City, NJ in 1988. As David Freidman in his liner notes for the posthumous Nancy LaMott album Ask Me Again points out, the songs on this album were collected at the demand of listeners to the Jonathan Schwartz radio programs on which he played recordings of Nancy LaMott songs which had not been included on any of her albums made during her lifetime. "We tried," he wrote, to leave the songs as they were originally sung. . . live in concert, live on the radio, and in small studios in Atlantic City and New York, . . ."
The other tracks on Ask Me Again feature a who's who of late twentieth century American jazz players accompanying LaMott who was able to attract the best to play behind her.

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Michael Feinstein
album: Nice Work If You Can Get It
(Songs by the Gershwins)


Notes: Nice Work If You Can Get It: Songs by the Gershwins is Michael Feinstein's second all-Gershwin album. His first, Pure Gershwin, was his best record, probably because, as a former secretary to Ira Gershwin, he knew his way around the material. This time, Feinstein puts his extensive knowledge of the Gershwin catalogue to good use, unearthing lost songs -- 'Anything for You' and 'Will You Remember Me?' are given their first-ever recordings -- resurrecting original arrangements, and singing rarely used lyrics to favorites like 'Someone to Watch over Me.' The album's tour de force is the seven-and-a-half-minute 'Fascinating Rhythm (Medley),' which travels through time to trace the development of the song and its subsequent versions in successive musical styles. The effect is to demonstrate both the timelessness and the endless versatility of George Gershwin's music. All of this is far more elaborate than the piano accompaniment on Pure Gershwin, and Feinstein has developed enough as a singer to keep up. The man has the heart of a research assistant, but few history lessons are this much fun. ~ William Ruhlmann at CD Universe page for this album. Recorded at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, released February 13, 1996 on the Atlantic label. Personnel: Michael Feinstein (piano); Gene Merlino, Don Shelton , Med Flory, Sue Raney (vocals); Bill Watrous (trombone); Armen Guzelimian, Stan Freeman, Tom Ranier (piano); Jeff Hamilton (drums).
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Spider Saloff
album: The Memory of All That
(A Celebration of Gershwin)


Notes: "Known for co-hosting the public radio program Words & Music and for her live tributes to Tin Pan Alley icon George Gershwin, Spider Saloff is a Chicago-based jazz vocalist with a clean, uncomplicated, straightforward approach" (See AllMusic.com for complete article). Saloff is backed on this album by Harry Allen (Tenor Sax), Bradley Williams (piano), and John Whitfield (bass).
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album: Don't Fence Me In


Notes: "Making songs like conversation is what D\D'Arcy excels at, with natural phrasing. Her in-person recording brings out the one-to-one connection skill. it\'s not about belting, sustaining notes, or high drama. she sings lightly, sometimes talking a line to put attention on an attitude or certain words....this is cabaret singing" [rob Lester ,\'cabaret scenes tracks\' 2008. (from CD Universe)

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Victoria Hart
album: The Lost Gershwin


Notes: 2008 album from the California-born Jazz Pop vocalist joined by British string quartet Pavao. Following the discovery of rare Gershwin sheet music in an attic - unopened since WWII - Victoria Hart and Pavao have recorded the results of their findings on this unique new album. Though George Gershwin was a prolific writer, not all of his tunes became standards. This collection, including songs never before recorded shows there are still Gershwin gems waiting to be discovered. This is a collection of just 12 of those fascinating songs, brought to life for a contemporary audience by "George Clooney's singing waitress" Victoria Hart and Pavao. (From Amazon page for this album)
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