June 15, 2015

#54: A great Johnny Mercer saloon song

But probably not the one you're expecting. It's the perfectly executed "Drinking Again," arranged by Claus Ogerman and recorded in 1967:



Music by Doris Taubert and words by Johnny Mercer, who knew whereof he wrote when it came to drinking again. Will Friedwald on the performance:

The singer tempers his perfectly poised declamation with just the right amount of self-pity and self-consciousness, and with minuscule, never overtly noticeable tinges of the inebriate's slightly sloshed phrasing. By the fadeout, in which -- replete with self-crucifying humor -- he inwardly intones "Look at me, I'm drinkin' again," Sinatra has concocted a perfect cocktail of tragedy and noir comedy, followed by a chaser of irony. (Sinatra! The Song Is You, 427-8)
Yes, indeed. And one has to agree with Mr. Friedwald that Mr. Ogerman, who also arranged Sinatra's first album with Antonio Jobim, the gorgeous Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim, "could have been the next great Sinatra collaborator." It says something about Sinatra, that though he recorded thousands of songs, we still want more -- more of a particular style, or recordings of songs which, for whatever reason, he missed. I have a little wish list somewhere of omissions and Ms. EBL features one of them: Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time You Say Goodbye."  What would you give to hear him sing these lines?
But how strange the change
From major to minor
Sigh. Moving on.

"Drinking Again" was released on the album The World We Knew, as was "Somethin' Stupid," Frank and Nancy's charming duet listed by Mark Steyn as his 38th Sinatra Song of the Century. Mark followed that up with the ebullient classic "You Make Me Feel So Young" and then brought us down, but in a good way, with the sweetly melancholy "I Get Along Without You Very Well," also covered by Ms. EBL.

Over at The Camp of the Saints, Bob is under the weather, but his latest selections -- he's already down to #38 -- feature a beauty that Frank got to very late in the game. It wasn't until 1979 that he sat himself down and recorded "It Had To Be You." But more on that later . . .



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