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

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"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.[1] It was popularized by Frank Sinatra.

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[citation needed]. 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."[2] 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."[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.


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]

  • 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]
  • In the Twilight Zone episode "The Four of Us Are Dying", a woman sings a portion of the tune in a hotel lounge.
  • 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.
  • A piano rendition of the song is played in the background of a bar scene following the protagonist's wife leaving him in the film Invincible (2006).
  • In the film Road House (1948), starring Richard Widmark, Ida Lupino and Cornel Wilde, Lupino played a saloon piano player and singer. The song she sang, or talked, was "One for my baby and one more for the road."
  • In the Vincent Price film The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), the song (sung by Scott Peters) was "performed" by "Dr. Phibes' Clockwork Wizards".
  • Mary sings an a cappella version to Lou as a semi-audition for a talent show on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
  • In Stephen King's TV version of The Shining (1997) – song is played in a bar scene near the end of the movie. Song is being played on a jukebox and the artist is unknown.
  • Some of this song was sung solo by "Gramoo Sultenfuss" on "My Girl" when the senile grandmother interrupts a funeral.
  • The season 2 episode 13 of the USA Network TV show White Collar features characters Neal Caffrey and June, played by Matthew Bomer and Diahann Carroll singing a duet. Billy Dee Williams accompanies them on the piano.
  • In the 1998 TV film The Rat Pack, the song is performed during the final scene by Michael Dees, with actor Ray Liotta who portrays Frank Sinatra, shown to appear singing in a recording studio.
  • In the 1987 film Ishtar, down-on-his-luck songwriter Lyle Rogers (played by Warren Beatty) chooses the song on a jukebox at a bar with friend and partner, Chuck Clarke (played by Dustin Hoffman).
  • A portion of the song is sung by Thor Lundgren (Stephen Wallem), on Nurse Jackie, s5 e10, 2013


  1. ^ 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, side A.
  2. ^ a b Billman, Larry (1997). Fred Astaire – A Bio-bibliography. Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 115. ISBN 0-313-29010-5. 
  3. ^ "When I Fall in Love overview". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-07-26. 
  4. ^ "An evening with Chris Botti". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-07-26. 
  5. ^ "One for My Baby - To Frank Sinatra with Love by Laura Dickinson on Apple Music". 2014-12-12. Retrieved 2016-07-26. 
  6. ^ "Meet McGraw". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved September 9, 2009. 
  7. ^ Shaiman, Marc. "Someone in a Tree: My View of Johnny Carson's Last Night." The Film Music Society. 24 January 2005.

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