Show Boat opened in 1927 at the Ziegfeld Theatre. It was composed by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein. At this time on Broadway Show Boat was seen as a controversial play because of the topics regarding gambling, alcoholism, racism and marriage. It was also one of the first musicals that had both white and black actors on stage at once. This musical was very intriguing and had many unique aspects to it. For these reasons and many more the song that is going to be analyze is “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”.
“Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” is sung at three different times during Show Boat. This first time we here this song is in Act I, when Magnolia is telling Julie about this man that she just met and how she has never met anyone else like him and that she thinks she may be in love. This is the only scene where the song is performed in full, it is sung by Julie who accompanied by Queenie and Magnolia. The second time this song is performed is at the end of Act I when Magnolia and Ravenal are entering the church to get married and it is sung by the ensemble.
Song Analysis Essay Example
The last time the song is performed is in Act II by Magnolia as her audition for a new job as a singer after Ravel leaves her. “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” delivered a significant contribution to the plot of Show Boat. When Julie is singing the song to Magnolia Queenie walks in and she states that she has only heard colour people singing this song and that it’s funny for Mrs. Julie to know it. After this comment is made Julie gets defensive saying of course she can sing the entire song and questioning what Queenie thinks is so funny about her knowing this song.
Later in the play Julie is found to be half black and is forced to leave the Cotton Blossom. Julie knowing the words to a song that most people think only black people know is the first hint in the play that Julie is hiding something. The last time “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” is performed in Act II also contributes to a change in the plot. While Magnolia is singing this song for her auditioning Julie, who is currently the lead in the show, hears Magnolia singing the song.
While Magnolia is performing Julie quits her job so that Magnolia will be hired to replace her. This new role becomes Magnolia’s big break and she starts on her path of becoming a famous actress. “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” is a powerful love song. It refers to love as a force of nature when it says “fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, I gotta love one man till I die, Can’t help lovin’ dat man of mine”. This demonstrates how love is just meant to be and how you can not control who you fall in love.
It also shows how even though the man may have some faults and isn’t perfect you still love him anyways, regardless of what other have to say about him, this is shown through these lyrics “tell me he’s lazy, tell me he’s slow, tell me I’m crazy (maybe I know), can’t help lovin’ dat man of mine”. “When he goes away, dat’s a rainy day, but when he come back dat day is fine, de sun will shine” her she is simply saying that when her man leaves she is sad and when he retruns she is happy again. However, this also can be related to when Ravenal leaves Magnolia after gambling away all of there money.
When he leaves she is distraught and it seems that she is lost, but then at the very end of Act II Ravenal returns and she seems happier than she has the entire time he was gone. This small portion of the song was relevant to the majority of Act II. The main theme to the song is that you can not control who you fall in love with. “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” is an example of an “I am” song. The song is very mellow, and has a blues type harmony and a simple rhythm to it. The lyrics are also very catchy and memorable. There is significant range in regards to the tone of the song.
In the beginning when Julie is singing her tone is high pitched but then when Joe comes in he’s sings in a low and deep tone. This is pleasing to the ear because it adds range to the music and makes it more interesting to listen to, as opposed to having a constant tone throughout the entire song. The mood of the song is cheerful, Julie is singing about the man she loves and she looks very joyous throughout. Close to the end up the song he ensemble joins in singing and everyone gets up and starts dancing creating a more upbeat tempo.
“Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” follows the AABA pattern for the refrain. If you refer to the chorus lyrics bellowed are labeled to show the AAB, CCB rhyme pattern, as well as composite rhyme, referring to the “got” in the first stanza, exact rhyme referring to “crazy” and “lazy” in the second stanza and consonance, referring to the multiple “L” in the second stanza. Fish got to swim, birds got to fly, I got to love one man till I die. Can’t help lovin’ dat man of mine. Tell me he’s lazy, tell me he’s slow, Tell me I’m crazy, (maybe I know). Can’t help lovin’ dat man of mine.
“Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” is a romantic song that represents a woman who is so deeply in love with a man that she can overlook all of his flaws and still love him just as much. When analyzing this song one will find that it represents more than just a musical number in Show Boat. It foreshadows Julie being discovered as being partial black, and also that Ravenal will one day come back to Magnolia to make her happy again. This song also shows miscegenation. This was one of the first plays to have black’s and whites on stage together and this song does a perfect job and bringing both races together through music.