One Mint Julep
"One Mint Julep" was recorded on the Atlantic Records label in New York City on December 19, 1951, and released in March 1952. It was one of the first "drinking songs" to become a hit and one of the first to feature a tenor sax solo. It was an important step in the history of Ahmet Ertegün and Atlantic Records in its quest to become a hot rhythm and blues label. Stylistically, the Clovers were moving away from the sentimental lyrics of the romantic doo-wop group songs and adapting a cooler group style, emphasizing rhythm more, nearing the style of a jump blues combo.
Toombs had been hired by the Atlantic Records label to write and compose humorous up-tempo rhythm and blues novelty songs. Atlantic wanted material that was true to life, but also funny. The humor in this song comes in part from the idea of a young black man getting drunk on mint juleps, traditionally thought of as an aristocratic southern white woman's drink. The Atlantic B-side was "Middle of the Night" by "Nugetre", Ertegun spelled backwards.
The story line is a classic one of a man who falls for the charms of a young woman only to realize a few years later that he has a ring on his finger. He remembers that it all started with "One Mint Julep."
- "One early morning as I was walking,"
- "I met a woman, we started talking,"
The last verse outlines the trap.
- "I don't want to bore you, with my trouble,"
- "But from now on I'll be thinking double."
This is one of many popular R&B drinking songs to come out of the 1940s and 1950s. It was the first of several successful up-tempo drinking songs by Toombs, who went on to write and compose "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer" for Amos Milburn, "Fat Back and Corn Likker" for Louis Jordan, and "Nip Sip" for the Clovers.
In 1961 "One Mint Julep" finally reached a mass audience when Ray Charles's organ-and-big-band instrumental version reached No. 1 on the R&B charts, and also reached No. 8 on the pop chart. Among the many who covered or remade this song are the following:
- Louis Prima
- Chet Atkins
- Ray Stevens
- Duane Eddy
- Pee Wee Ellis
- Count Basie
- Freddie Hubbard
- Earl Palmer
- Bob James
- The Ventures
- Jack Sheldon
- Xavier Cugat in 1964, featured in the Swingers motion-picture
- Mac Wiseman
- Sarah Vaughan
- Roseanna Vitro, on her 1997 album Catchin' Some Rays: The Music of Ray Charles
- Richard "Groove" Holmes
- Poncho Sanchez
- James Taylor Quartet
- Booker T and the MGs
- King Curtis
- Tommy Emmanuel
- Buddy Morrow
- Ana Gasteyer, on I'm Hip, her 2014 album of jazz standards
The song is known for being part of the closing theme for the Elliot in the Morning show on WWDC and some rock stations along the eastern seaboard. The song was also featured in the soundtrack of the 2015 film Carol.
"Blue Moon" by The Marcels
|Billboard Hot R&B Sides number-one single
(Ray Charles version)
April 17, 1961
"Mother-in-Law" by Ernie K-Doe
- Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 3 - The Tribal Drum: The rise of rhythm and blues. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
- Jim Dawson, & Steve Propes (1992). What Was the First Rock'n'Roll Record. Boston & London: Faber & Faber. pp. 99–101. ISBN 0-571-12939-0.
- Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll ((2nd Ed.) ed.). New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press. pp. 135, 165. ISBN 0-306-80683-5.
- Gillett, Charlie (1996). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll ((2nd Ed.) ed.). New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press. pp. 165, 202. ISBN 0-306-80683-5.
- "One Mint Julep". Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2006-11-02.
- "Xavier Cugat And His Orchestra - Cugi's Cocktails No.1 - Mercury - UK". 45cat. Retrieved 2013-06-09.