Why we should all be singing Ira's praises
What was Gershwin's first name? Ask your friends and colleagues. Some will say they don't know and others will say George. A few will say, which Gershwin? And none will say Ira.
Yet it was Ira who wrote:
It ain't necessarily so
De t'ings dat yo' liable to read in de Bible
It ain't necessarily so.
Eighteen words, four of them repeated, of wit, compression and wisdom; and meticulously crafted to meet the predetermined discipline of a melody. Ira also wrote several hundred other lyrics of comparable brilliance – mostly for his younger brother but later for other composers as well.
George Gershwin was a hugely gifted composer. His work would have won him fame, fortune and eternal respect whether or not he'd been blessed with such a brother. But Ira was quite as talented a crafter of words as George was a maker of music – yet enjoys nothing like the recognition.