"Blues in the Night"

“My mother done told me…”
“From Natchez to Mobile…”

Who made the best-known recording(s) of this song?
Thanks very much.

Dinah Shore

I don’t know who has the best version of this song, but Eva Cassidy has a great version of it on her album “Eva by Heart,” but then she has a great version of everything she tried.





Get the picture?

Mods, asked and answered, feel free to close this thread!:slight_smile:

{please don’t do that big typeface thing again. Thank you.

– Uke, CS mod, who snuck that Ella plug in just to teach you a sharp lesson about Good Music}

And I thought I was a Eva Cassidy fanatic.

Nice try Isla, but oh so wrong.

The answer is Frank Sinatra.

This is one of my top five favorite songs in the whole world so I’ve made a little personal study of it. When Frank (or his arranger) slowed it down, it took on a mournfulness that makes all the jazzy or bluesy versions out there seem tacky. And it reeks of loneliness, so it is best sung alone. No duels (like Johnny Mercer did it). No choruses or background singers (like Eva Cassidy did it).

And dougie, it’s “momma,” not “mother.”

Akk. Typo in my first post: “duels” should be “duets.”

Bobby Bland’s version, circa 1962, is my favorite.

Frank’s got no soul.


Clearly, my boy, you are not familiar with the 1960 recording by Ella Fitzgerald, backed by the Billy May orchestra featuring Benny Carter on alto saxophone.

I believe it’s on Ella’s Harold Arlen Songbook album, although my copy appears on the Smithsonian Collection of American Popular Song.

I’ve got Frankie’s Only the Lonely on the box right now – just to check his version out – and while I bow to no one as a fan of this disc, I got to say that Ella sings rings around him. And the band backing up the vocal is much hotter…Nelson Riddle depends too much on those damn soupy strings.

If you want to hear this tune with strings done RIGHT, try famous cool-jazz junkie Art Pepper’s 1980 recording Winter Moon, in which he plays “Blues in the Night” on clarinet along with an orchestration arranged by Los Angeles jazz great Bill Holman.

Here, have a taste.

Everyone is wrong. “Blues in the Night” is the theme song from the film of the same name and the most popular recording was made by Woody Herman. His version went to #1 in 1942. There were six charting versions in 1941-42:

Artie Shaw - #10, 1941
Woody Herman - #1, 1942
Jimmie Lunceford - #4, 1942
Dinah Shore - #4, 1942
Cab Calloway - #8, 1942
Benny Goodman - #20, 1942

And then Rosemary Clooney revived it and had a #17 hit in 1952.

None of the other versions mentioned in this thread charted.

Look Uke, here’s the problem with Ella’s version (or at least the little snippet I heard from your link) and most of the other non-Frank versions I’ve heard. You can hear the singers smiling. They are sound as though they have risen from their dispair. They are singing as a gesture of wisdom-sharing at best, or smarmy triumph at worst.

Frank is not smiling. His heart is broken NOW. There are loneliness and heartache and drifter-life cues all over this song (“clickty-clack,” the whisle sounds, the names of those tired old railroad towns, etc.) and most people sing it like they’re having a party at a jazz club. I don’t get that. The lyric says “… Now the rains a’ fallin’. Hear the train a’ callin’.” The song was written for present-tense dispair.

Is his version over-orchastrated? Maybe, but I don’t mind that. And God, I love it when Frank takes that long pause just before the word “… son” in the opening line. Gets me every time.

We’ll probably have to agree to disagree here. It’s a matter of taste. But I just think Frank nails the nature of the lyric better than the others.

Hold on Uke. I’ve got the Smithsonian Collection of American Popular Song. Let me crank this baby up and listen to the whole Ella version.

Okay that was very masterful and, dare I say, rousing. But jeezus Uke, it could be subtitled “Let Me Tell Ya’ Sista.” It was a triumph of performance, certainly not interpretation if you ask me. Just read those lyrics.

The best interpreter of Harold Arlen’s work is----
Harold Arlen.
His performances fuse and make explicit the jazz AND cantorial influences inherent in the songs.

I think the vast majority of people who know the song nowadays learned it from hearing Mel Blanc sing it in various Warner Brothers cartoons.