Song 101 – One For My Baby

SONG: One For My Baby

ARTIST: Frank Sinatra

YEAR: 1958

Listen to it here: 


“One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” is a song that was written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer for the movie musical The Sky’s the Limit. Described by Harold Arlen as “another typical Arlen tapeworm”, the song is a wandering song that does not fall within the standard 32 measure conventions of the time. Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics and despite the strange length, was able to make it work. 

The song was originally sung by Fred Astaire, but gained further popularity when it was recorded by Frank Sinatra. Sinatra recorded the song 6 times throughout his career – first in 1947, and last in 1993. Today we’re listening to his third recording, from 1958. 


We’ve discussed Sinatra several times over the course of this blog. Please check our archives for more information


Little Sinatra factoid: His first actual fangirls were paid to scream and fawn over him! 


God damn Frank Sinatra I’m so sick of this guy.  Heeeere we go.  This is a pretty gentle Sinatra offering where he sounds mostly in tune, compared to a lot of other Sinatra we’ve listened to.  Speaking of his voice, it sounds like they’ve put a lot of ‘space’ around his voice, which I think does his voice some service.  I find this track drags on, owing to the fact that for a ballad there’s not a lot of emotional or musical range here.  The only things that really changed were Frank’s volume and some noodly alto (?) sax that fromages its way in and out of the song.  And then I didn’t really notice that it was gone.  The song itself is decent – I imagine him in a smoky dive bar, musing with the bartender about love gone wrong (Frank was probably awful to her and that’s why she left).  This is definitely one of the better Sinatra tunes we’ve listened to.  Or I should say, least worst.


I’m not super familiar with this song, but this arrangement just screams Sinatra from the first note. The melody lends itself to a lot of rubato, the pianist stays out of the way during the verses, and the string section swells in and out as needed. And then, oof. An alto sax that sounds like they smacked a sheet of construction paper to the mouthpiece and just “went for it”. It’s already known on this blog that I’m not a huge Sinatra fan, but there are some things I do like about him. The first is that he did a lot to popularize some jazz tunes that are worth knowing. This song, on its own, is really intriguing to me and I will be listening to lots of different settings of this melody.  The second thing I appreciate about Sinatra is some of the arrangements when he sang with big bands. His arrangers were generally gold, except during his Debbie Downer period, which I think it’s pretty clear that this is a part of. I appreciate having to listen to more Sinatra because I’m now aware of this song, which all in all I like, but I’d bet many dollars that this will not make it into my top 5 versions of this song. Sorry Frank, not sorry. 

Average mark out of 10:

Holly: 7/10

Kelly: 6.5/10

Other notable versions of this song:

Ella does a wandering trip through this song with simple piano accompaniment:

A Willie Nelson version, because why not:

Listen with us!

Link to 1,001 Songs to Hear Before You Die spotify playlist:

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