Boy Wanted: 1918–1924
“Boy Wanted”, featuring in the musical A Dangerous Maid, was a catalogue song in the mold of Gilbert and Sullivan patter numbers, where four girls “list” the qualities they are looking for in a boy, as if each were placing a newspaper ad. Ira's development as a lyricist is clear from the very opening of the verse, where he concocts a triple rhyme on “advertisement”: “no half-hearted Romeo or flirt is meant.” Although A Dangerous Maid closed out of town (in Pittsburgh) in the spring of 1921, Ira and George salvaged “Boy Wanted,” kept it in their “trunk” (songwriters' slang for their unused material), and in 1924 retailored it for a British musical, Primrose. By comparing the revised with the original lyric, one can trace Ira's development from apprentice to journeyman lyricist. Between 1921 and 1924, Ira worked primarily with composers other than his brother. George's music, during this period, was in volatile flux.
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