“Liza” was introduced in Florenz Ziegfeld’s production Show Girl, which opened July 2, 1929, with Ruby Keeler and Dixie Dugan singing the number. But it was Keeler’s husband, vocalist Al Jolson, who succeeded in putting the song in the charts where it rose to number nine.
Ira Gershwin teamed up with Gus Kahn on the lyrics to “Liza.” In Ira’s book Lyrics on Several Occasions he tells the story: “For the new show Ziegfeld asked if I would mind collaborating with lyricist Gus Kahn, as he owed Gus a commitment. I welcomed the opportunity because Show Girl had to be done quickly to make a much-too-soon Boston opening date.” The pair created a lyric that is almost a throw back to pop songs of the ‘teens. The verse is a plea from a man to his girl to go out in the night and enjoy the moon and the breeze in the trees, because he has something special to impart to her. The chorus tells us what he has in mind, “a date with Parson Brown,” because with Liza’s company all “the clouds’ll roll away.”
Liza, Liza, skies are gray But if you smile on me, all the clouds will roll away. Liza, Liza, don't delay Come keep me company, and the clouds will roll away.
See the honey moon a-shinnig down We could make a date with Parson Brown. So, Liza, Liza name the day When you'll belong to me, and the clouds will roll away.
See the honey moon is shining down We could make a date with Parson Brown. So, Liza, Liza, won't you name the day When you'll belong to me, and the clouds will roll away. Liza.