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Paley was a high-school English teacher when he met and became friends with George and Ira Gershwin in the 1910s and began writing lyrics for some of Gershwin's songs, occasionally in collaboration with Ira. In 1920, he married Emily Strunsky, a childhood friend of the Gershwins, who signed the door just below him. The Paleys' Greenwich Village apartment was the site of famous Saturday night musical salons, where creative people gathered and played late into the night. Paley continued writing lyrics for Gershwin productions through the 1920s, but never became a major figure in the music scene.
A playbill for Lady in Red at the Lyric Theatre, New York, 1919
Lou Paley's most famous collaboration with George Gershwin was "Something about Love," featured in the 1919 musical Lady in Red. Gershwin contributed one other song to the production, "Some Wonderful Sort of Someone," with lyrics by Schuyler Greene.