Frank Sinatra, “One For My Baby (And One More For the Road)”

The song was written by Harold Arlen (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics), with Mercer allegedly inspired by his “torch” for Judy Garland.

There is a view, still bandied about by the misguided, of pre-rock songwriting as something quaint and genteel, a stubbornly lingering notion that songwriters then were more interested in the craft of welding lyrics to melody than plumbing the depths of human emotion. “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)” has plenty of craft, but it’s also frank, profound and harrowing. Still, it’s possible that those qualities might have remained dormant had not the right singer come along to embody them. The song was written by Harold Arlen (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics), with Mercer allegedly inspired by his “torch” for Judy Garland, thirteen years his younger and someone with whom he would carry on a longstanding extramarital affair. It originally appeared in 1943 as part of a relatively forgotten Fred Astaire musical, but was longing for the performer who could inhabit the narrator telling his troubles to a bartender right before closing time. Those “wee, small hours of the morning” were always the domain of Frank Sinatra, so it’s no surprise that he found the song intriguing. He first took a whack at it in 1947, but it wasn’t until 11 years later, on his downcast…

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