Category Archives: Friday Cocktail Hour

Lyin’ Eyes

People are often surprised when they learn I like the Eagles. They’re widely considered uncool. I’m not cool now but I used to be. Of course, I was cool when Glenn, Don, and the gang were uncool. Coolness can be tricky.

I selected Lyin’ Eyes for this week’s Friday Cocktail Hour as a sort of perverse tribute to the Impeached Insult Comedian’s departure from office. Who’s a bigger liar than Donald Trump? In a word: nobody.

Lyin’ Eyes is perhaps my favorite Eagles song. It was written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey for 1975’s One Of These Nights album. It features one of Frey’s finest lead vocals.

Are you ready to take a trip to the cheating side of town?

We begin with the Eagles original album version. I have no use for the hit single version as it omits an entire verse.

Kenny Rankin cut a mellow version of Lyin’ Eyes in 1980:

Jack Jones was a saloon singer in the tradition of the Rat Pack. FYI, his father Allan was in A Night At The Opera:

In 2012, the great Buck Owens recorded an album of Eagles tunes. On it, he took a trip to the cheating side of town:

Finally, in 2016, jazz singer Gwen Hughes put a chick spin on the Henley-Frey classic:

That’s it for this week. Raise a glass and toast the end of the Trump regime. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

My Heart Stood Still

It’s time for this feature to return to its roots with a 1927 song by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. I was worried that Frank, Dino, and Sammy would haunt me if I posted a rock song this week. Who needs angry Rat Packers after them?

My Heart Stood Sill has been recorded 178 times according to Secondhand Songs. I leave the counting to them.

We begin with Friday Cocktail Hour regular, Ella Fitzgerald:

Cool Jazz icon Chet Baker recorded the song in 1958. It features a sweet trumpet solo from the Chetster:

Sinatra cut a lush orchestral version in 1963:

I did not know that the Supremes had recorded an album of Motownized Rodgers & Hart songs. Instead of dissenting I concur with the up-tempo arrangement:

Next up, Joe Williams and George Shearing with a quieter take on Rodgers and Hart:

The most recent version out there is by James Taylor from his 2020 album American Standard:

What would a Friday Cocktail Hour post be without a jazz instrumental version of the week’s song? This time around we have two:

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson? I can’t say it enough.

That concludes this week’s edition of the Friday Cocktail Hour. Pour yourself an adult beverage and toast the end of the Trump era. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

 

 

Get Out Of This House

 

This is an unusual Friday Cocktail Hour entry. The song is a classic but it’s not a standard that has been widely covered. Instead, it’s a message to the Impeached Insult Comedian that we’re sick of his shit and ready for him to go.

Get Out Of This House was written by Shawn Colvin for her 1996 album, A Few Small Repairs. It received a Grammy nomination for best female pop performance. It’s a rip snorting breakup song.

We have two versions of the song: the studio original and Shawn live.

 

That’s it for this edition. Let’s toast the end of an error. Sinatra may have supported some Republican candidates late in life, but he knew and loathed Donald Trump. Pour yourself a shot of JD. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would have wanted. Never argue with them.

Something

I considered posting a hangover song but decided to start the new year out in a classier fashion. What’s classier than George Harrison and the Beatles? Not a damn thing.

Because of the holiday, we’re having our second consecutive early Cocktail Hour: “Hair of the dog and all that rot, eh wot.”

Uh oh, I sound like Bertie Wooster. Not a good look. I’d rather be Jeeves and say “Indeed, sir.”

George Harrison wrote Something for Abbey Road, and it became an instant classic. It was the sort of song that allowed some of our Cocktail Hour regulars to say, “I don’t like that rock and roll shit but the Beatles are okay.”

We begin with the Beatles original:

Miss Peggy Lee knew a good ballad when she heard one:

The Chairman of the Board had a grudging respect for the Beatles even if he thought their hair was too damn long:

Lou Rawls often performed Something in a medley with Feeling Good:

You haven’t lived until you’ve heard James Brown’s version of Something:

Next up, a countrypolitan version from Johnny Paycheck:

Here’s George’s old pal Macca and some bloke named Eric:

Finally, what would a Friday Cocktail Hour be without a jazz instrumental?

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Count Basie?

That’s it for this edition. It’s time to toast the end of one of the worst years in recent memory. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

The Christmas Song

The Friday Cocktail Hour comes early on Christmas Day. We want to catch Santa before he’s hungover, after all. Besides, Santa Donald has driven us to drink with his unpardonable pardons. I hope he gets coal in his stocking.

Mel Tormé and Bob Weiss wrote The Christmas Song on a boiling hot day in the summer of 1945. The two were trying to stay cool by thinking of winter. It’s unclear if that worked but the song certainly does.

Last Saturday, reader Christflora shared a link to a story from the News From Me blog about the Velvet Fog and some carolers. There’s always a good story when Mel Tormé is involved.

We begin with the songwriter himself.

Nat King Cole was the first to record The Christmas Song. Here he is in toon form:

The first version I ever heard of this song was by the patron saint of the Friday Cocktail Hour;

A nice jazzy interpretation by the great Ella Fitzgerald:

Finally, a 21st Century cover by Aimee Mann:

That’s it for the first Christmas day edition of the Friday Cocktail. I hope everyone had a Merry Xmas. Time to spike some eggnog with Jack Daniel’s.  It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

To Love Somebody

 

This week’s entry is inspired by the marvelous HBO documentary, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart. I’ll be reviewing it in tomorrow’s Saturday post. In the documentary, Barry Gibb calls To Love Somebody the best song he’s ever written. That’s saying a lot.

Barry and Robin Gibb wrote To Love Somebody in 1967 for their first internationally released album, Bee Gees 1st. This wistful tune became a hit in both the UK and US and the Bee Gees were on their way.

We begin (where else?) with the Bee Gees original:

One of the earliest covers was by the great jazz singer Nina Simone:

Janis Joplin recorded the Gibb’s song for her first solo album:

The Flying Burrito Brothers countrified To Love Somebody turning it into a “tears in your beer” weeper:

Rod Stewart cut Barry and Robin’s song with Booker T and The MGs. It doesn’t get more soulful than that:

Rita Marley reggae-fied the song. It’s reportedly one of Barry Gibb’s favorite covers:

Finally, Little Milton with a bluesy interpretation of To Love Somebody:

That’s it for this week. Raise your glass and toast the end of another week. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

Help Me Make It Through The Night

 

This week’s entry is one of the most recorded songs of the post-Rat Pack era. According to the indespenaible site, Second Hand Songs, it’s been recorded 344 times thus far.

Kris Kristofferson wrote and recorded Help Me Make It Through The Night in 1969. The first big hit version was recorded by Sammi Smith in 1970 but I’m skipping it because there are so many more interesting interpretations. Kristofferson’s lyrics and melody lend themselves to a variety of genres from country to soul to rock to pop to folk.

We begin with the songwriter’s original studio version:

Soul singer Percy Sledge recorded one of the earliest versions of the song:

The great country torch singer Kitty Wells also cut an early cover:

The folks at Motown knew a great ballad when they heard one:

Next up is Friday Cocktail Hour regular Bryan Ferry:

All of those versions were recorded in the 1970’s. Let’s do a time jump to 1999 with New Orleans’ own Davell Crawford:

The 21st Century is represented by X’s John Doe:

What’s a Friday Cocktail Hour without a jazz instrumental version?

I hope this week’s entry will help you make it through this and many more nights. It’s time to raise your glass and toast the end of another week. It’s what Bogie, Betty and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

 

Share Your Love With Me

 

This week’s entry is an R&B classic. It was written in 1964 by Alfred Briggs and Deadric Malone and first recorded by the great Bobby Blue Bland.

Share Your Love With Me is a wistful song with a melody that lends itself to different interpretations. That’s the essence of the Friday Cocktail Hour.

We begin with Bobby Blue Bland:

Our second version was recorded in 1970 by the Queen of Soul. Say no more.

Moondog Matinee is The Band’s most underrated record because it’s a “covers” album. That makes it sound as if they copied other artist’s interpretations. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Their version of Share Your Love With Me features a plaintive vocal by Richard Manuel. It broke my heart the first time I heard it. It still does.

Van Morrison may be a creep and a malaka but he’s also a great singer.

That’s all for this week. Pour yourself a belt and toast the end of another weird news week. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

Black Friday

 

We’re doing something different with the Friday Cocktail Hour format this week and featuring a tune that’s not remotely torchy. Instead it’s a song Becker and Fagen wrote about Jay Gould’s attempt to corner the gold market on Friday September 24, 1869.

That Black Friday led to the Panic of 1869. They used to call depressions panics. I guess they stopped doing so to prevent panic. Depression is inevitable.

I’ve never been one to mock people for their Black Friday shopping exploits and I’m not about to start now even with the pandemic raging. All I’ve got to say is this:

That’s all for this week. Raise your glass and toast surviving a relatively relative-free Thanksgiving. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

This week’s entry was inspired by the swell David Kelly-Nicole Kidman-Hugh Grant mini-series, The Undoing. Kelly and the show’s musical directors encouraged La Kidman to record a version of Dream A Little Dream Of Me for the show’s theme song. Initially, she balked but then relented. I’m glad she did. I need the material.

Dream A Little Dream Of Me was written in 1931 by Fabian Andre, Wilbur Schwandt, and Gus Kahn. It’s been recorded many times over the years and it’s my duty, nay pleasure, to post some of them. They’re dreamy, y’all.

We begin at the end with Nicole Kidman:

One of the best-loved versions of the song was cut by Doris Day in 1957:

Are you ready for some Ella & Louis? I would hope so:

Rumor has it that Dean Martin feels neglected. It’s time to rectify that omission. I don’t want a bibulous specter chasing me, after all:

Finally, an oddball contemporary interpretation by Eddie Vedder and his ukulele:

That’s all for this week. Lift your glass and toast the end of another wild-n-crazy week. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

 

I Put A Spell On You

I doubt that Frank, Dean, and Sammy knew what to make of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. They did, however, have one thing in common: they liked to party.

“Hawkins had originally intended to record “I Put a Spell on You” as “a refined love song, a blues ballad”. However, the producer (Arnold Maxin) “brought in ribs and chicken and got everybody drunk, and we came out with this weird version … I don’t even remember making the record. Before, I was just a normal blues singer. I was just Jay Hawkins. It all sort of just fell in place. I found out I could do more destroying a song and screaming it to death. “ 

Jalacy Hawkins wrote and recorded I Put A Spell On You in 1956.  It was a hit for him and others artists over the years.

We begin at the beginning with the songwriter’s weirdo version:

John Fogerty loved putting a spell on you so much that he cut the song and made it a centerpiece of CCR’s live act:

Nina Simone. Say no more.

We’re crossing the pond with the next two versions. Bryan Ferry recorded a smooth blues version in 1993.

The great Annie Lennox recorded I Put A Spell On You for that famous bondage movie. Something good had to come of it, y’all.

That’s all, folks. Pour yourselves a drink and toast the end of another week. It’s what Bogie, Berry, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket

I’m doing something different for this week’s Friday Cocktail Hour. There’s been enough gloom and doom for one week so I decided to ditch the torch songs for a happy tune. Anyone object? I thought not.

I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket was written in 1936 by Irving Berlin for the Astaire-Rogers movie, Follow The Fleet. It’s a film so cheerful that it makes one say “hey sailor” over and over again.

We begin this eggy journey with the man for whom the song was written. This 1953 version comes from The Astaire Story an album Fred recorded with some of the best jazz musicians in the world: Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Barney Kessell, Alvin Stoller, Charlie Shavers, and Flip Phillips.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong recorded a lively duet of Berlin’s song featuring Oscar Peterson again. Oscar sure did get around:

Carmen McRae put all her eggs in a big band basket:

Finally, Bob Willis and his Texas Playboys:

That’s it for this week. After the election, we all need a drink.  It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

No One Ever Tells You

No One Ever Tells You is a torchy blues song that was written in 1956 by Carroll Coates and Hub Atwood. It was first recorded by Frank Sinatra for his A Swingin’ Affair album. It’s peak Sinatra and peak Nelson Riddle.

We have three versions of this swell song. We begin with the patron saint of the Friday Cocktail Hour:

Shirley Bassey recorded No One Ever Tells You in 1959:

Next up, B.B. King and Diane Schuur. I told you this was a blues song.

Finally, some lagniappe with another song with the same title. This No One Ever Tells You was written by Carole King, Gerry Goffin, and Phil Spector:

That’s it for this week. I wrote this as Zeta bore down on New Orleans. After the big blow, one thing is certain: I need a cocktail and so do you. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry

 

Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry is so torchy that it’s opening stanza uses the T word:

The torch I carry is handsome
It’s worth its heartache in ransom
And when that twilight steals
I know how the lady in the harbor feels

It was written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn  in 1944 for the musical Glad To See You, which bombed in Boston and never made it to Broadway. The songwriters were later heavily associated with Frank Sinatra as is this song.

We begin with Sinatra with a version from the “sad clown” album, Only The Lonely.

Sarah Vaughan’s version is dominated by Ernie Freeman on the electronic organ. As always Sassy’s interpretation is, well, sassy.

I’ve neglected Carmen McRae in this feature thus far. That ends today.

Frank’s favorite sidekick also hung his tears out to dry with this sax-heavy version:

Finally, what would the Friday Cocktail hour be without a jazz instrumental interpretation of this week’s song. This one features the torchy trumpet stylings of Wynton Marsalis:

That’s it for this week. Dry your tears and pour yourself a drink. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want you to do. Never argue with them.

I’d Rather Go Blind

It’s time for another soul torch song. I’d Rather Go Blind is a straight-forward tune with a tangled authorship story. Etta James said that she got the idea from her friend Ellington Jordan when she visited him in prison. The song is credited to Jordan, Miss Etta, and her then boyfriend doo-wop singer Billy Foster. Who wrote what when remains a minor mystery. The power of the song is not mysterious.

We begin at the beginning, not the beguine, with Etta James:

Beyonce played Etta James in the swell 2008 movie Cadillac Records:

Here’s Warren Haynes, Susan Tedeschi, and Derek Trucks performing I’d Rather Go Blind at the White House:

Finally, Rod Stewart with some wonderful playing by his Faces band mates Ron Wood and Ian McLagan:

That’s all for this week. Pour yourself a drink and toast the end of another weird week. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

I Can’t Stop Loving You

I realized that I haven’t done any country torch songs in this space. It’s time to rectify that omission with a much loved, oft-recorded mid-tempo ballad.

I Can’t Stop Loving You was written by Don Gibson in 1957. He sat down to write a “lost love ballad” and came up with a classic.

We begin at the beginning with Don Gibson and the Jordanaires on backing vocals.

Kitty Wells was one of the ultimate country torch singers, so naturally she recorded Gibson’s song:

Ray Charles had the biggest hit of all: reaching number one on the pop charts for five weeks. No wonder the Genius loved this song.

It wouldn’t be the Friday Cocktail hour without the Chairman of the Board. Frank cut this track with Bill Basie and Quincy Jones in 1964:

Van Morrison may be a malaka but he’s a helluva singer. This version features The Chieftains as his backing band. By all accounts, they are not malakas.

What’s the Friday Cocktail Hour without a jazz instrumental? This time it’s Duke Ellington:

That’s it for this week. Pour yourself your favorite adult beverage and toast the end of a long, crazy week. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would have wanted. Never argue with them.

It Makes No Difference

 

I’m stretching the Friday Cocktail Hour’s boundaries to the limit by posting a rock torch song. What are Sammy, Dean, and Frank gonna do? Come back from the grave and kick my ass? I’ll take my chances.

Robbie Robertson wrote It Makes No Difference for The Band’s 1975 album Northern Lights-Southern Cross. It’s a deceptively simple tune sung beautifully by Rick Danko. Few singers did sad and plaintive as well as Rick,

We have two versions by The Band for your listening pleasure: the studio original and Rick and Robbie killing it at The Last Waltz.

Another singer who knew his way around a sad song was the late, great Solomon Burke:

That was a short one so pour yourself a double to celebrate the end of another taxing week. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

 

I’ve Been Loving You Too Long

It’s time for another soul torch song. It was written in 1965 by Otis Redding and Jerry Butler of the Impressions. Butler would eventually become a politician in his native Chicago. That’s what was cooking in Cook County.

We begin with the Otis Redding original. Nobody sang with more passion than Otis.

Otis liked the Rolling Stones’ cover of I’ve Been Loving You Too Long so much that he covered Satisfaction:

Speaking of impassioned singers, ladies and gentleman, Tina Tuner:

A more recent version of I’ve Been Loving You Too Long was cut by Car Power in 2008.

We have to stop now. Pour yourself a drink and toast the end of another difficult week.. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want you to do. Never argue with them, y’all.

Ill Wind (You’re Blowin’ Me No Good)

This week’s edition is dedicated to those in Alabama and Florida who took it in the chin from Hurricane Sally.

Ill Wind was written in 1934 by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler for The Cotton Club Parade. It’s a sad song with lyrics and a melody that fit our troubled times. It *was* written during the First Great Depression, after all.

We begin with a 1955 version from the patron saint of the Friday Cocktail Hour:

Next up, a late career version from Lady Day featuring some stellar guitar picking by the great Barney Kessell:

Sax great Ben Webster blew on Billie’s Ill Wind, then recorded it the next year:

Lonette McKee performed Ill Wind in the troubled 1984 film, The Cotton Club:

Finally, an appropriately bluesy instrumental interpretation by jazz guitarists Larry Coryell and Emily Remler:

That’s it for this week. Pour yourself a drink and toast those who survived Hurricanes Sally and Laura. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want you to do. Never argue with them, y’all.

I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)

I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good) was composed in 1941 by Duke Ellington with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. It’s been covered many times over the years and is one of Duke’s most beloved compositions. It suits my mood on this pandemicky Friday. Is that a word? Maybe not; it sounds a bit too much like Mantle, Dolenz, or Mouse…

We begin with an instrumental version from the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival. The standout is Johnny Hodges on sax.

Next up Friday Cocktail Hour regular Ella Fitzgerald backed by the Duke Ellington Orchestra:

As one would expect, Sinatra’s version is epic.

I heard Dianne Reeves’ fabulous 1987 interpretation for the first time last week.

It’s time to go avant garde on your asses with some Monk; Thelonious, not Adrian:

That’s it for this week. Pour yourself a beverage and unwind after another frenetic news week. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them, y’all.