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

"Love for Sale" is a song by Cole Porter introduced by Kathryn Crawford in 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".

Early versions

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, like many of Porter's, shifts between a major and minor feeling.[citation needed] The A section is in the key of B-flat minor before modulating to B-flat major and back.[2]


When the song came out in 1930, a newspaper labelled it as 'in bad taste';[3] radio stations avoided broadcasting it.[4] Because of the complaints, Porter shifted the setting of the song in the musical to the Cotton Club in Harlem, where it was sung by an African-American, Elisabeth Welch, instead of white singer Kathryn Crawford.[5]

Popular recordings in 1931 were made by Libby Holman and by Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians.[6] The Jack Teagarden Orchestra recorded the song in February 1940, with Kitty Kallen as the featured vocalist.[7]

Cover versions

It is also widely recorded as a jazz standard. Instrumental versions included those by Sidney Bechet, Erroll Garner, Stan Kenton, Charlie Parker, The Three Sounds, Art Tatum, Cannonball Adderley, Dexter Gordon, Buddy Rich, Ryo Fukui, and Cecil Taylor. There is a version of the song by Hal Kemp's Orch. & The Smoothies, 1940.

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga version

"Love for Sale"
Single by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
from the album Love for Sale
ReleasedSeptember 17, 2021
StudioElectric Lady (New York City)
Songwriter(s)Cole Porter
Producer(s)Dae Bennett
Tony Bennett singles chronology
"I Get a Kick Out of You"
"Love for Sale"
Lady Gaga singles chronology
"I Get a Kick Out of You"
"Love for Sale"
"Hold My Hand"
Music video
"Love for Sale" on YouTube

Background and reception

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga released a collaborative jazz album, titled Cheek to Cheek, in 2014. Shortly after the album was released Bennett asked Gaga if she would like to record another album with him, this time with songs written by Cole Porter. Accepting the invitation, the duo recorded their second collaborative album, Love for Sale.[10] After the record was finished, they went through all the songs to choose the album title, and decided to name it after the song "Love for Sale", which was Bennett's favourite.[11] "Love for Sale" was later chosen as the second single off the album, released on September 17, 2021, to digital retailers.[12] The duo's rendition of the Cole Porter standard is an old-fashioned duet, trading lines and harmonies over the joyous, up-tempo big-band arrangement.[13][14] The song starts with Bennett softly singing the lines alone, with the big band arrangement joining him at the chorus. Gaga, in the role of streetwalker, joins him and trills: "Who will buy?"[15] The track also involves a bebop saxophone solo.[13] Their rendition brings a "hearty helping of old-school Broadway razzle-dazzle" to the "grim scenario", the "sleazy world of sex work".[15]

Justin Curto of Vulture believed that Bennett and Gaga's fruitful collaborative relationship is "on prime display" in the song, which sees "the singers go toe-to-toe on the sensuous standard".[16] NME's El Hunt thought that in the song Gaga "channels the arm-swinging enthusiasm of a milkmaid dancing through an Oliver! show tune: 'Who will buy?' she hollers."[17] According to Derrick Rossignol at Uproxx, the song "shows that Bennett hasn't lost his vocal chops even at 95 years old and that Gaga remains an excellent accompaniment for the legend."[18] Ross Horton of The Line of Best Fit thought that "Love for Sale", along with the album's opening two tracks "It's De-Lovely" and "Night and Day", showcase how well the duos vocals come together, saying: "Bennett and Gaga's voices seem to bounce off each other, and become emboldened and enlivened by its presence."[19] Mary Siroky of Consequence felt that the duo is "imbuing the title track with refreshing, heartfelt energy."[20] Eric Handerson from Slant Magazine was critical of their version of the song, which "sung from the POV of a sex worker, makes literally no sense as a duet."[21]

Music video and promotion

The accompanying music video premiered on MTV on September 18, 2021.[12] It starts with Gaga exclaiming "I'm singin' with Tony B!", and then shows the duo recording the song in the studio, with Gaga wriggling around during the session.[16] The visual is cut with clips of the pair laughing together, and occasional close-up shots of the big band.[16][22] At the end the video, Gaga declares "We got that ending, we stuck it", and the session ends with the two hugging.[22] Entertainment Weekly's Joey Nolfi called the music video "tear-jerking", "which highlights their deep, mutual adoration as they stare lovingly into each other's eyes while singing the tune."[23] Cillea Houghton of ABC News noted that in the video "Gaga treats [the studio session] more as a performance than simply singing into a microphone, dancing alongside Tony as they sing".[22] Justin Curto of Vulture wrote that in the video the duo are "showcasing the sort of connection" with each other "that you just can't form over a day in the studio. Whatever they're selling? We'll take it."[16]

On July 2, 2021, Bennett and Gaga performed "Love for Sale" and other songs in front of an intimate studio audience in New York City. It was recorded for MTV Unplugged, which aired on MTV on December 16, 2021, while the performance of "Love for Sale" was also released as a standalone video on YouTube a week earlier.[24][25] The duo gave a performance at Radio City Music Hall on August 3 and 5, 2021, called One Last Time: an Evening with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, and "Love for Sale" was one of the duets they performed together. The performance was later included in a television special of the same name, which premiered on CBS and Paramount+ on November 28, 2021.[26] After Bennett retired from performing live on "doctors' orders",[27] Gaga gave solo performances of the song, including on her Jazz & Piano Vegas residency,[28] and at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, where she performed the song along with "Do I Love You".[29]

See also


  1. ^ "Internet Broadway Database". ibdb.com. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  2. ^ "Love For Sale". Jazzstandards.com. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Charles (1979). Cole Porter. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80097-7, pp. 115–116
  4. ^ a b Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. Oxford University Press. pp. 240–241. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  5. ^ Yaffe, David (2006). Fascinating Rhythm: Reading Jazz in American Writing. Princeton University Press. Chapter 4. ISBN 978-1-40082-680-3.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 543. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  7. ^ Shaw, M., Rust, B. (2002). Jazz and Ragtime Records, 1897-1942: L-Z. United States: Mainspring Press. https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Jazz_and_Ragtime_Records_1897_1942_L_Z/_J9HAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0
  8. ^ "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  9. ^ "Songs For Sale - Vic Godard & The Subway Sect". allmusic.com.
  10. ^ D'Zurilla, Christie (August 3, 2021). "Tony Bennett turns 95 and celebrates with big news about final album with Lady Gaga". Yahoo! News. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  11. ^ "Lady Gaga celebrates Love For Sale - presented by Westfield". Westfield. October 1, 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga Reunite on Cole Porter Classic 'Love For Sale': Stream". Billboard. September 17, 2021. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Every Lady Gaga Song, Ranked A deep dive into a star who almost single-handedly raised the bar for pop music". Vulture. Archived from the original on May 24, 2022. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  14. ^ Rowley, Glenn (September 17, 2021). "Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett Share "Love For Sale": Stream". Consequence. Archived from the original on October 4, 2021. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  15. ^ a b Hunter-Tilney, Ludovic (September 28, 2021). "Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga reach acoustic wonderland in Love for Sale". Financial Times. Archived from the original on September 28, 2021. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  16. ^ a b c d Curto, Justin (September 17, 2021). "We'd Buy What Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett Have in the 'Love for Sale' Video". Vulture. Archived from the original on October 3, 2021. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  17. ^ Hunt, El (September 30, 2021). "Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga – 'Love For Sale' review: oldies covers with a playful wink". NME. Archived from the original on September 30, 2021. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
  18. ^ Rossignol, Derrick (September 17, 2021). "Lady Gaga And Tony Bennett Continue To Be A Marvelous Vocal Pair On Their 'Love For Sale' Title Track". Uproxx. Archived from the original on October 4, 2021. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  19. ^ Horton, Ross (October 5, 2020). "Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett's Love For Sale may be his final album but it's a perfect career snapshot". The Line of Best Fit. Archived from the original on October 7, 2021. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  20. ^ Siroky, Mary (October 1, 2021). "Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga Make the Great American Songbook Shine Again with Love for Sale". Consequence. Archived from the original on October 1, 2021. Retrieved October 3, 2021.
  21. ^ "Every Lady Gaga Album Ranked". Slant Magazine. October 6, 2021. Archived from the original on October 7, 2021. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  22. ^ a b c Houghton, Cillea (September 20, 2021). "Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett capture vibrant energy of the studio in 'Love for Sale' video". ABC News. Archived from the original on October 4, 2021. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  23. ^ Nolfi, Joey (September 17, 2021). "Find someone who looks at you like Lady Gaga looks at Tony Bennett in the 'Love for Sale' music video". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 4, 2021. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  24. ^ Romaine, Jenna (June 30, 2021). "After Alzheimer's diagnosis, singing great Tony Bennett to perform free concert with Lady Gaga". The Hill. Archived from the original on December 5, 2021. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  25. ^ Nolfi, Joey (December 9, 2021). "Lady Gaga gets sweet and sassy with Tony Bennett in first MTV Unplugged footage". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on December 17, 2021. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  26. ^ Nolfi, Joey (November 3, 2021). "Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett revisit their first duet in emotional One Last Time preview". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on November 29, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  27. ^ Amorosi, A.D. (August 12, 2021). "Tony Bennett's Son, Danny, on Why the Legend's Radio City Music Hall Shows Went So Well — and Why There Won't Be More". Variety. Archived from the original on August 14, 2021. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  28. ^ Katsilometes, John (October 15, 2021). "Lady Gaga — and Stefani — jazz it up in Strip return". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on October 16, 2021. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
  29. ^ Coscarelli, Joe; Friedman, Vanessa; Herrera, Isabelia; Pareles, Jon; Zoladz, Lindsay (April 3, 2022). "Best and Worst Moments From the 2022 Grammys". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 4, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2022.