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Posted by: In: Other 14 May 2024 Comments: 0


567-Frank Sinatra & Sammy Davis Jr.-Me and My Shadow.

1962-Number 20 single.

Best Bit-At 2.29. Sammy Davis Jr. was once asked while playing a round of golf, what his handicap was, ‘Handicap?’ he asked. ‘Talk about handicap. I’m a one-eyed Negro who’s Jewish.’

Samuel George Davis Jr. was born on December 8th, 1925, in New York City, United States, he died of complications from throat cancer on May 16th, 1990, at the age of 64. Sammy Davis Jr. is recognised as one of the greatest all round entertainers of the 20th Century, appearing in numerous films, and television programmes between 1933-1990, including his own television shows ‘The Sammy Davis Jr. Show’ in 1966, and the ‘Sammy and Company’ show between 1975-1977. Davis who was a singer, actor, comedian and dancer, began his career in ‘Vaudeville’ at the age of two with his father Sammy Davis Sr. (1900-1988) who was a dancer, and his associate, the dancer and singer Will Mastin, (1878-1979) the three would perform as the ‘Will Mastin Trio’ touring nationally. In 1954, at the age of 29 Davis lost an eye in a car accident, and for the rest of his life he wore a glass eye. It was in 1961 that he converted to Judaism, finding commonalities between the oppression experienced both by black Americans, and the Jewish communities.

Sammy Davis Jr. recorded extensively throughout his career, with his discography including 15 Albums recorded for ‘Decca Records’ between 1955-1963, and 24 Albums recorded for ‘Reprise Records’ between 1961-1970. In 1970, in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience he signed with ‘Motown Records,’ and recorded an Album called ‘Something For Everyone,’ which was critically panned, and is considered the lowest point of his musical career. Sammy Davis Jr. released 91 singles between 1950-1984, of which nine of those tracks have made the American Billboard Hot 100, with ‘The Candy Man’ reaching Number 1 in 1972, while in the UK, eight of his singles have made the top 40, with ‘Love Me or Leave Me,’ peaking the highest at Number 8, in 1955.

‘Me and My Shadow’ was written in 1927 by Billy Rose, (1899-1966) who provided the lyrics, and Dave Dreyer, (1894-1967) who was responsible for the music. Officially the American singer Al Jolson, (1885-1950) (see also best songs 310) is also credited as a co-writer, but his input would have been minimal, as he would often insist on having his name added to a song he was willing to record, or promote. Jolson did perform the song live, but never got around to producing a studio version. ‘Me and My Shadow’ has become a standard over the years with dozens of artists stamping their interpretation on it. One of the earliest recordings was by ‘Whispering’ Jack Smith, (1896-1950) in 1927. The American entertainer Ted Lewis, (1890-1971) first performed the song in 1928, and for the rest of his career he would use it to close his act. The British comedy duo Eric Morecambe (1926-1984) and Ernie Wise (1925-1999) recorded a parody version in 1961, and more recently the English singers Robbie Williams, (see also best songs 406) and Jonathan Wilkes duetted the song for Williams 2001 Album ‘Swing When Your Winning.’

Frank Sinatra 1915-1998) (see also best songs 877-469-120 and 73) and Sammy Davis Jr. have recorded the song twice. The first time was in 1958 for ‘Capitol Records,’ when conducted by Nelson Riddle, (1921-1985) (see also best songs 286 and 73) and released on the Album ‘Classic Duets.’ The version of the song I have chosen was recorded in 1962, for the ‘Reprise’ record label, and released on the Album ‘At the Cocoanut Grove,’ with the arrangement being by Billy May (1916-2004.)

Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. were both members of a small group of performers known as the ‘Rat Pack’ in the 1960’s. The other members were Dean Martin, (1917-1995) (see also best songs 919) Joey Bishop, (1918-2007) and Peter Lawford (1923-1984.) It is said that they got their name after the American actress Angie Dickinson approached the group, and said, ‘You all look like a pack of rats.’ The nickname caught on, and they were then called the ‘Rat Pack.’ Another group of performers that originated in the 1940’s were also called the ‘Rat Pack,’ these elite group of celebrities included Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, (1899-1957) and Lauren Bacall (1924-2014.)

The original lyrics for ‘Me and My Shadow’ tell the tale of a lonely person who goes home each evening to an empty house, where they just have their shadow for company. Over the years the lyrics have been altered in many of the numerous recordings of the song. For example in the Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. version they sing, ‘We’re closer than Bobby is to J.F.K.,’ John Fitzgerald Kennedy, (1917-1963) was the President of the United States of America at the time they recorded their version. Whereas the original lyrics are a tale of loneliness, Sinatra and Davis turn the song into a tale of warm companionship.

‘Before we get finished, we’ll make the town roar, we’ll make all the late spots, and then a few more. We’ll wind up at Jilly’s right after Toot’s Shore, life is gonna be a we-wow-whee, for my shadow and me.’