One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)

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"One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)"
One-For-My-Baby sheet music.jpg
Sheet music cover
Published1943 (1943) by Edwin H Morris & Co.
Composer(s)Harold Arlen
Lyricist(s)Johnny Mercer

"One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" is a hit song written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer for the movie musical The Sky's the Limit (1943) and first performed in the film by Fred Astaire.


Harold Arlen described the song as "another typical Arlen tapeworm" – a "tapeworm" being the trade slang for any song which went over the conventional 32 bar length. He called it "a wandering song. [Lyricist] Johnny [Mercer] took it and wrote it exactly the way it fell. Not only is it long – forty-eight bars – but it also changes key. Johnny made it work."[1] In the opinion of Arlen's biographer, Edward Jablonski, the song is "musically inevitable, rhythmically insistent, and in that mood of 'metropolitan melancholic beauty' that writer John O'Hara finds in all of Arlen's music."[1]

It was further popularized by Frank Sinatra.[2] Sinatra recorded the song several times during his career: In 1947 with Columbia Records, in 1954 for the film soundtrack album Young at Heart, in 1958 for Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely, in 1962 for Sinatra & Sextet: Live in Paris, in 1966 for Sinatra at the Sands and finally, in 1993, for his Duets album. At a Johnny Carson-hosted Rat Pack concert at the Kiel Opera House in St. Louis in 1965, Sammy Davis Jr., backed by Quincy Jones conducting the Count Basie Orchestra, performed the song imitating the styles of successively Fred Astaire, Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, Vaughn Monroe, Tony Bennett, Mel Tormé, Frankie Laine, Louis Armstrong, an inebriated Dean Martin, and Jerry Lewis.


Countless renditions of "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" have been performed. The following is a list of notable/well-known versions which have been recorded thus far:

In film and television[edit]

  • Ida Lupino sings it as the new talent from Chicago at Jefty's Road House in Jean Negulesco's Road House (1948), prompting a character to remark: "She does more without a voice than anybody I've ever heard." [5]
  • A piano version of the song can be heard in the background in the Rocky's scene toward the end of Youth Runs Wild (1944). Arlen and Mercer are not credited.
  • Jane Russell sings it, wearing a metallic evening gown, in the Josef von Sternberg/Nicholas Ray film noir Macao (1952).
  • The song plays prominently in the 1954 adventure-mystery film Dangerous Mission, in which it is played on a piano by a gangster who is killed. The only people who know what song he was playing at the time of the murder are his assailant and a witness (Piper Laurie), whom the killer is after.
  • "One for My Baby" is the theme song of the 1957–1958 NBC detective series Meet McGraw, starring Frank Lovejoy.[6]
  • The song is featured in the 1971 movie The Abominable Dr. Phibes being played by an animatronic piano player constructed by Dr. Phibes (Vincent Price); however, its inclusion in the movie is an anachronism, as the movie is set in the 1920s and the song was recorded in 1943.
  • The song was by sung by Bette Midler to Johnny Carson on the penultimate night of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (May 21, 1992). Both Midler and Carson got caught up in the emotion of the song, and a heretofore unused camera angle on the set framed the two and the performance. It earned Midler that year's Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. The lyrics were adapted to suit the occasion – such as "And, John, I know you're getting anxious to close".[7]
  • Dianne Reeves' rendition of the song is featured throughout the closing credits of George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), and is available on the film's official soundtrack album.
  • Frank Sinatra's cover of the song recently appeared in Blade Runner 2049.
  • In November 2017, Bono and Chris Martin performed the song on a Jimmy Kimmel Live! fundraiser special for World AIDS Day.
  • Frank Sinatra's cover of the song is used in a sequence in the 10th episode of the 2nd season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.[8]
  • The song was played in the background of the final scene of the Season 3 finale of the TV series Billions during the conversation between Wendy and Axe.


  1. ^ a b Alcorn, Josh (1997). walked on highway and died. Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 115. ISBN 0-313-29010-5.
  2. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854. Tape 1.
  3. ^ One for My Baby at AllMusic
  4. ^ "One for My Baby - To Frank Sinatra with Love by Laura Dickinson on Apple Music". December 12, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  5. ^ "Ida Lupino". IMDb.
  6. ^ "Meet McGraw". Classic TV Archives. Archived from the original on October 3, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
  7. ^ Shaiman, Marc. "Someone in a Tree: My View of Johnny Carson's Last Night." The Film Music Society. January 24, 2005.
  8. ^ Zoller Seitz, Matthew. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Isn't Just a Feel-Good Show". Vulture. Retrieved January 3, 2018.

External links[edit]