It was introduced by Adelaide Hall at Les Ambassadeurs Club in New York in January 1928 in Lew Leslie's Blackbird Revue, which opened on Broadway later that year as the highly successful Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1928 (518 performances), wherein it was performed by Adelaide Hall, Aida Ward and Willard McLean. Some controversy surrounds the song's authorship. Andy Razaf biographer Harry Singer offers circumstantial evidence that suggests Fats Waller might have sold the melody to McHugh in 1926 and that the lyrics were by Andy Razaf. Alternatively, Philip Furia has pointed out that Fields' verse is almost identical to the end of the second verse of Lorenz Hart's and Richard Rodgers' song "Where's That Rainbow?" from Peggy-Ann, the 1926 musical comedy with book by Fields' brother Herbert and produced by their father Lew:
Gee, but it's tough to be broke, kid. It's not a joke, kid--it's a curse. My luck is changing--it's gotten from simply rotten to something worse. Who knows someday I will win too I'll begin to reach my prime. Now that I see what our end is All can spend is just my time.
I can't give you anything but love, baby. That's the only thing I've plenty of, baby. Dream a while, scheme a while, You're sure to find Happiness and I guess, All those things you've always pined for.
Gee, it's great to see you looking swell, baby. Diamond bracelets Woolworth doesn't sell, baby. Till that lucky day you know darn well, baby, I can't give you anything but love.