Monday, March 3, 2008

Song Noir

I was listening to WBGO yesterday, and I heard a song I hadn't heard in a while: Ella Fitzgerald singing Miss Otis Regrets. It's a haunting song, sung beautifully by one of the greatest singers of the 20th Century. The song popped into my head today, so I decided to check out the lyrics (reprinted here).

Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today, madam,
Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.
She is sorry to be delayed,
but last evening down in Lover's Lane she strayed, madam,
Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.

When she woke up and found that her dream of love was gone, madam,
She ran to the man who had led her so far astray,
And from under her velvet gown,
She drew a gun and shot her love down, madam,
Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.

When the mob came and got her and dragged her from the jail, madam,
They strung her upon the old willow across the way,
And the moment before she died,
She lifted up her lovely head and cried, madam......
Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today.

Miss Otis regrets, she's unable to lunch today

The song, obviously, is from the point of view of a servant to a polite woman of society. It retells the story of Miss Otis being seduced and abandoned. Miss Otis tracks down and kills her seducer, then gets sentenced to death.

What strikes me about the lyrics is that this is a fairly good example of a noir story. You could almost call this song noir. Does anyone have any other examples of song noir?

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