Trav’lin’ Light

It’s New Years Day so it’s time for an early Friday Cocktail Hour. Let the day drinking begin.

There’s an apocryphal story that Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics to Trav’lin’ Light to bail Billie Holiday out of a jam. The more likely story is that Mercer added lyrics in the studio in his capacity as the co-founder of Capitol Records. That makes a helluva lot more sense but it isn’t as colorful. Oh well, what the hell.

Trav’lin’ Light was composed in 1942 by Trummy Young and Jimmy Mundy. I already discussed Johnny Mercer’s lyrics. It *was* written for Lady Day and became one of her signature numbers.

I thought Trav’lin’ Light was a good choice for New Years Eve because people travel for the holidays. Not me this year: I’m hunkered and hermitting.

We begin with the original version featuring the Paul Whiteman Orchestra with Billie Holiday.

Billie revisited the song in 1956:

Lady Day may have owned Trav’lin’ Light but she rented it to Ella Fitzgerald and Nelson Riddle with splendid results.

Let’s get manly with Joe Williams and Count Basie:

Jimmy Rushing was a big man with a big voice:

Anita O’Day made Trav’lin’ Light the title track of a 1961 album:

Finally, Van Morrison may be a politically incorrect malaka but he’s still a great singer.

What would a Friday Cocktail be without a jazz instrumental of the week’s song? This time, Ben Webster & Josef Zawinul followed by Ray Barretto.

That’s it for this year. I propose a New Years Eve toast to Billie Holiday and Johnny Mercer for all the great music they bequeathed to the world. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them:

One thought on “Trav’lin’ Light

Comments are closed.