According to Don Tyler in Hit Songs 1900-1955: American Popular Music of the Pre-Rock Era
, the purpose of this song was to convince the poor heroine that "money is not the answer to everything". The song appeared originally in the 1925 musical Good News
with words by B.G. DeSylva and Lew Brown, music by Ray Henderson; it was introduced by John Price Jones and Mary Lawlor.
Three years later a fine recording was made by the English bandleader Jack Hylton; the eponymous 1956 musical was a tribute to its writers. Although the expression the best things in life are free was or has long become a cliché, it remains true nevertheless, as the long list of unhappy A-List celebrities attests. This song not to be confused with the Janet Jackson song
of the same title.