August 22, 2015

#36: Sinatra and Mandel, fully caffeinated

It's "The Coffee Song," in which arranger Johnny Mandel outdoes himself. Wake up and brace yourself for two minutes and fifty-one seconds of fully-caffeinated fabulousness:

If you missed Frank's incredibly elegant/breezy -- breezelegant? -- treatment of the word "dill," in the line "Coffee pickles way outsell the dill," you'll just have to play it again. I'm trying, in vain, to think of a better recording of a novelty song.

"The Coffee Song" was written by Dick Miles and Bob Hilliard in 1946 and Sinatra recorded it shortly afterward. But that version is like a cup of watery Sanka compared with the bold and sizzling 1961 chart for Ring-a-Ding Ding! When I first heard it (and the rest of the album), which was only about ten years ago, I had that how-long-has-this-been-going-on feeling -- where had I been all these years, missing out on all this great music? I've been playing catch-up ever since.

Mark Steyn has already written about this one so pour yourself a fresh cup and enjoy. Just a bit here:

Still, as time goes by, it seems to me that many coffee songs belong increasingly to a lost age when you'd swing by the diner, growl, "Hey, Cindy, shoot me a cuppa joe," and she'd pour it for you right there and then, and for 30 cents you could sit till sundown enjoying all the free refills your bladder could handle. Hard to credit in a world in which coffee has evolved into a knickerbocker glory with a shot of espresso, requiring sprinkles, squirts, slices and soup├žons, all for six bucks and a 20-minute wait. Don't worry, I'm not warming to my theme - I've a whole chapter on that in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, if you're that interested. I'm just saying the great American coffee song seems to belong to the pre-barista era.

But "The Coffee Song" is the coffee song:

Way down among Brazilians
Coffee beans grow by the millions
So they've got to find those extra cups to fill
They've got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil...
Read the rest and stay tuned for more great music.

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