The song of the day for Friday, September 27, 2013 is “Last Night When We Were Young.”
About This Song
Written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg in 1936, “Last Night When We Were Young” may be one of the most perfect love songs ever written. Both Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg considered this their favorite of all their songs. The song had been originally written for a film called Metropolitan, but was cut before the film was released. Judy Garland recorded it for In The Good Old Summertime and Frank Sinatra recorded it for Take Me Out To The Ballgame, but it was cut from both films, mostly because it was considered “too sad.” No matter: it was a hit for both artists as well as many others, including Lawrence Tibbett, Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan, and even Carly Simon.
Alec Wilder, author of American Popular Song, said that:
Arlen told me that he wrote “Last Night While We Were Young” for Lawrence Tibbett. I can’t frankly imagine a less likely singer for this song. But, after all, once you have heard the Sinatra version, you can’t imagine anyone else singing it.
This is the most remarkable and beautiful song. It is one which goes far beyond the boundaries of popular music. For me, it is a concert song without a trace of trying to be it. It hasn’t any artiness about it or pretense. It’s obviously deeply felt, both by the composer and the lyricist E.Y. Harburg.
It is unlike any other Arlen song that I have heard. However, it is unmistakably his.
About This Version
I’m certainly in no position to argue with the late and great Alec Wilder, but I can definitely imagine Tony Bennett singing this song, which he does quite well on his tribute album to Frank Sinatra: Perfectly Frank. It was arranged and conducted by Robert Farnon and featured the Ralph Sharon Trio, with Paul Langosch on bass and Joe LaBarbera on drums. The extraordinary engineer Frank Laico came out of retirement to engineer this album for Tony Bennett.