One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)

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“One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” is a hit song written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer for the movie musical The Sky’s the Limit (1943) and first performed in the film by Fred Astaire. It was popularized by Frank Sinatra.

Harold Arlen described the song as “another typical Arlen tapeworm” – a “tapeworm” being the trade slang for any song which went over the conventional 32 bar length. He called it “a wandering song. Lyricist Johnny Mercer took it and wrote it exactly the way it fell. Not only is it long – forty-eight bars – but it also changes key. Johnny made it work.” In the opinion of Arlen’s biographer, Edward Jablonski, the song is “musically inevitable, rhythmically insistent, and in that mood of ‘metropolitan melancholic beauty’ that writer John O’Hara finds in all of Arlen’s music.”

Sinatra recorded the song several times during his career: In 1947 with Columbia Records, in 1954 for the film soundtrack album Young at Heart, in 1958 for Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely, in 1962 for Sinatra & Sextet: Live in Paris, in 1966 for Sinatra at the Sands and finally, in 1993, for his Duets album.


Countless renditions of “One for My Baby…” have been performed. The following is a list of notable/well-known versions which have been recorded thus far:

Perry Como – 3:45 – Available on the long play record So Smooth
Billie Holiday – 5:42 – Available on The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve 1945–1959
Chuck Berry – 2:44 – Available on Chuck Berry in London
Ella Fitzgerald – 4:18 – Available on Ella Fitzgerald Sings Songs from Let No Man Write My Epitaph
Ella Fitzgerald – 3:58 – Available on Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Harold Arlen Songbook
Etta James – 3:26 – Available on The Second Time Around
Harry James – Available on Jazz Session (Columbia CL 669, 1955)
Frank Sinatra – 3:07 (1947) – Available on The Essential Frank Sinatra: The Columbia Years
Frank Sinatra – 4:05 (1954) – Recorded for the soundtrack to the film Young at Heart; available on Frank Sinatra in Hollywood 1940–1964
Frank Sinatra – 4:23 (1958) – Available on Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely; a piano-only rehearsal version is available on The Capitol Years box set
Fred Astaire – 4:59 – Available on Somewhere Over the Rainbow: The Golden Age of Hollywood Musicals and Hollywood’s Best: The 40’s
Fred Astaire – 3:02 – Available originally on Now [Kapp 1165 / 3049] (1959)
Julie London – 4.10 – Available on Your Number Please (1959)
Wes Montgomery – 7:38 (1961) – Available on SO Much Guitar!
Frank Sinatra – 4:40 (1966) (live version) – Available on Sinatra at the Sands
Frank Stallone – 4:31 – Available on Soft And Low
Frankie Laine – 3:39 – Available on The Legend at His Best
Harold Arlen – 4:15 – Available on Too Marvelous For Words: Capitol Sings Johnny Mercer
Iggy Pop – 4:05 – Available on Party (1981)
Iggy Pop – 6:04 (live version) – Available on Heroin Hates You (1997)
Susannah McCorkle – The Songs of Johnny Mercer (1977)
Johnny Mercer – 3.09 (1947) – Available on Capitol Collector’s Series
Johnny Mercer – 3:58 – Available on My Huckleberry Friend (1974)
Laura Fygi – 5:59 (live version) – Available on Laura Fygi’s Tunes of Passion
Lena Horne – 3:24 – Available on Bluebird’s Best: The Young Star
Linda Eder – 4:23 – Available on It’s No Secret Anymore
Lou Rawls – 4:25 – Recorded May 2, 1968 for the album You’re Good To Me; Later available on Great Gentlemen of Song: Spotlight on Lou Rawls
Marlene Dietrich – 4:07 – Available on Love Songs
Marvin Gaye – 4:30 – Available on Moods of Marvin Gaye
Nana Mouskouri – 3:15 – Available on I’ll remember you
Sammy Davis, Jr. – 10:20 – Available on the 1967 live album That’s All!
Rosemary Clooney – 3:50 – Available on Ballad Essentials
Jula de Palma – 3:24 – Available on Jula in Jazz 2
Tony Bennett – 3:26 – Available on Perfectly Frank also a 1957 chart single and on Duets II with John Mayer
Willie Nelson – 2:36 – Available on Willie & Leon: One For the Road
Robbie Williams – 4:15 – Available on Swing When You’re Winning
Bette Midler – 4:06 – Available on Experience The Divine: Greatest Hits (1993)
Chris Botti – 4:53 – When I Fall in Love
Sylvia Brooks – Available on Dangerous Liaisons (2009)
Mina – Available on L’allieva (2005)
Hugh Laurie – Available on Didn’t It Rain (2013)
Danny Aiello — 2004 release I Just Wanted to Hear the Words
Pat Martino with Bobby Rose — Available on Alone Together with Bobby Rose 2012. High Note HCD7242
Toots Thielemans with Jamie Cullum — Available on One More for the Road 2006. Verve
Laura Dickinson – 4:29 – Available on One For My Baby – To Frank Sinatra With Love (2014)
Sal Viviano – 5:09 – Available on Perfectly FRANK – A CENTURY of SINATRA (2015)