It Was a Very Good Year
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|"It Was a Very Good Year"|
|Single by Frank Sinatra|
|from the album September of My Years|
|B-side||"Moment to Moment"|
|Frank Sinatra singles chronology|
"It Was a Very Good Year" is a song composed by Ervin Drake in 1961 and originally recorded by Bob Shane with the Kingston Trio. It was made famous by Frank Sinatra's version in D minor, which won the Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance in 1966 and became Sinatra's first number one single.
The nostalgic, melancholic song recounts the type of girls with whom the singer had relationships at various years in his life: when he was 17, "small-town girls ... under the village green"; at 21, "city girls who lived up the stairs"; at 35, "blue-blooded girls of independent means". Each of these years he calls "very good". In the song's final verse, the singer reflects that he is older, and in the autumn of his years, and he thinks back on his entire life "as vintage wine". All of these romances were sweet to him, like a wine from a very good (i.e., vintage) year.
Ervin Drake's inspiration to write the song was his then wife-to-be, Edith Vincent Bermaine. She was a showgirl, whom he had dated, and eventually married twenty years after the song was written.
- The Kingston Trio introduced the song on their album Goin' Places (1961). This is the recording that influenced Frank Sinatra to want to record his own version.
- Lonnie Donegan released it as a 45 rpm single on Pye Records, in 1963.
- The Modern Folk Quartet recorded it on their eponymous first album The Modern Folk Quartet (1963).
- Frank Sinatra on his September of My Years album (1965) and a stripped-down performance on his Sinatra at the Sands live album (1966)
- The Turtles had a Canadian hit with their version (Quality 1791X) in early 1966.
- William Shatner released a spoken-word rendition with instrumental accompaniment on his 1968 album The Transformed Man, juxtaposed with an excerpt from Hamlet.
- British pop star Robbie Williams recorded a version for his album Swing When You're Winning (2001), in duet with Sinatra's original vocals. The instrumental track was also sampled from Sinatra's original recording.
In popular media
- In 1971, Michael Jackson sang a parody of this song in a skit with Diana Ross during the television special Diana!, which aired on the ABC-TV network.
- Frank Sinatra's version of the song was featured in the Spike Lee film Jungle Fever (1991).
- In a 1993 episode of The Simpsons ("Duffless"), Homer sings a parody of this song entitled "I Drank Some Very Good Beer", recounting the first beer he ever purchased (with a fake ID; his name was Brian McGee) and he "stayed up listening to Queen."
- In 2005, They Might Be Giants parodied this song on their first podcast.
- Alain Resnais used the Sinatra recording over the closing credits of his film You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet (2012).
- Mel Torme hosted a 1971 summer television show named It Was a Very Good Year, using the song as opening and closing theme music.
- Rubeck, Shaw, Blake et al., The Kingston Trio On Record (Naperville IL: KK Inc, 1986), p. 46
- Friedwald, Will (2009-04-02). "When He Was 46 it Was a Very Good Year - WSJ". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 22 - Smack Dab in the Middle on Route 66: A skinny dip in the easy listening mainstream. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition (Billboard Publications)
- Browne, Ray Broadus; Ambrosetti, Ronald J. (1993). Continuities in Popular Culture: The Present in the Past & the Past in the Present and Future. ISBN 9780879725938.
- American Icons: Frank Sinatra. Stonesong Press. 2018-04-15. ISBN 9781493033010.
- Bernstein, Adam (January 15, 2015). "Ervin Drake, songwriter of 'It Was a Very Good Year,' dies at 95". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-01-15.
- Peppiat, Wheaton et. el. Sinatra: A Man and his Music. Warner Bros. DVD, prod. Hemion, Raskin,1999
- "Modern Folk Quartet - Modern Folk Quartet | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
- "Michael Jackson - It Was A Very Good Year - Diana TV Show Special 1971 - GMJHD". youtube.com. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
- "Ervin Drake, songwriter - obituary". telegraph.co.uk. The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
- ""The Simpsons" Duffless (TV Episode 1993)". imdb.com. IMDb, Inc. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
- Rabasca Roepe, Lisa. "50 years later, a look back at Sinatra's influential "It Was A Very Good Year"". avclub.com. Retrieved 22 February 2020.