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"Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" with music by Jerome Kern, and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, is one of the most famous songs from their classic 1927 musical play 'Show Boat', adapted from Edna Ferber's novel.
The song, written in a blues tempo, is sung in the show by several characters, but is most closely associated with the character Julie, the biracial leading lady of the showboat "Cotton Blossom". It is Julie, who is first heard singing the song – to Magnolia, the daughter of Cap'n Andy Hawks and his wife Parthenia (Parthy), owners of the show boat. In the musical's plot, the number is supposed to be a song familiar to African-Americans for years, and this provides one of the most dramatic moments in the show. When Queenie, the black cook, comments that it is strange that light-skinned Julie knows the song because only black people sing it, Julie becomes visibly uncomfortable. Later, we learn that this is because Julie is "passing" as white – she and her white husband are guilty of miscegenation under the state's law.