One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
|"One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer"|
|Single by Amos Milburn|
|B-side||"What Can I Do?"|
|Format||10" 78 rpm record|
|Recorded||Audio-Video Recording Co., New York
June 30, 1953
|Label||Aladdin (Cat. no. 3197)|
|Amos Milburn singles chronology|
"One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" or "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer" is a call and response blues song written by Rudy Toombs and recorded by Amos Milburn in 1953. It is one of several drinking songs recorded by Milburn in the early 1950s that placed in the top ten of the Billboard R&B chart. Other artists have popularized the song, including John Lee Hooker in 1966 and George Thorogood in 1977.
Amos Milburn's "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer" is a mid-tempo blues song with pop-style chord changes. It tells the story of a man who is "in a bar at closing time trying to get enough booze down his neck to forget that his girlfriend's gone AWOL, harassing a tired, bored bartender who simply wants to close up and go home into serving just one more round". During the one break in the song, Milburn implores the bartender:
- One more nip and make it strong
- I got to find my baby if it takes all night long
- One scotch, one bourbon, one beer...
The song was a hit, reaching #2 in the R&B chart during a fourteen-week stay in 1953. The single lists the performers as "Amos Milburn and His Aladdin Chickenshackers" after his first #1 single "Chicken Shack Boogie". Mickey Baker provided the guitar parts. Several of Milburn's contemporaries commented on his indulgence; for his part, Milburn added "I practiced what I preached".
John Lee Hooker version
John Lee Hooker recorded the song as "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" in 1966. Hooker transformed Milburn's song "into a vehicle for himself". He used the storyline and chorus (but altered the order), but "edited the verse down to its essentials, filled in the gaps with narrative and dialogue, and set the whole thing to a rocking cross between South Side shuffle and signature boogie". Part of Hooker's narrative included:
- And then I sit there, drinkin', gettin' high, mellow, knocked out, feelin' good
- About that time I looked on the wall, at the old clock on the wall
- About that time it was ten-thirty then, I looked down the bar at the bartender, he said
- "What do you want down there?", one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer...
Hooker's version is notated as a medium tempo blues with an irregular number of bars in 4/4 time in the key of E. It was recorded in Chicago in 1966 with Hooker (vocal and guitar), Lafayette Leake (piano), Eddie "Guitar" Burns (guitar), Fred Below (drums), and an unknown bass player. The song was released on Hooker's 1966 The Real Folk Blues album and he later recorded several live versions of the song.
George Thorogood version
|"One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer"|
|Song by George Thorogood from the album George Thorogood and the Destroyers|
George Thorogood recorded "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" for his 1977 debut album, George Thorogood and the Destroyers. His version is actually a medley of the song and another Hooker recording, "House Rent Boogie", which serves as a back-story to explain the singer's situation. "House Rent Boogie" is written in the first person and details the events that transpire after the singer has lost his job. Unable to pay his rent, he tries to get accommodations with a friend, but fails. Lying to his landlady that he has obtained a new job, he gets access to his room and removes all his belongings. He then goes down to a tavern and orders the three alcoholic drinks to help him forget his sorrows.
A variety of artists have recorded versions of the song, including: Snooks Eaglin, Thurston Harris, Champion Jack Dupree, John Lee Hooker Jr., and Admiral Bailey and Chaka Demus. For the "Blame It on the Alcohol" episode of the television series Glee, characters Will Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison) and Shannon Beiste (played by Dot-Marie Jones) sang the song at a honky tonk bar.
- Shaw, Russell (April 6, 1985). "George Thorogood & The Destroyers – concert review". Billboard. Retrieved March 21, 2010.
- Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 290. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
- Murray, Charles Shaar (2002). Boogie Man: The Adventures of John Lee Hooker in the American Twentieth Century. St. Martin's Griffin. pp. 312–13. ISBN 978-0-312-27006-3.
- Murray 2002, p. 312. "He [Milburn] was a good man, stayed drunk a-a-a-a-l-l the time. Nice gentleman, though".
- Laredo, Joseph F. (1993). The Best of Amos Milburn – Down the Road Apiece (liner notes). EMI America. p. 3. 243 8 27229 2.
- The Blues. Hal Leonard Corporation. 1995. pp. 162–63. ISBN 0-7935-5259-1.
- Poling, Dean (March 19, 2010). "Bad to the Funny Bone: A Strange Conversation with George Thorogood". Valdosta Daily Times. Retrieved April 2, 2010.