Monday, October 17, 2011


The Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman classic, "Save The Last Dance For Me," is hallowed ground.


The Drifters' version is all we need.  It's perfect.

Yet, the Harry Nilsson/John Lennon version from the oft-maligned 1974 release "Pussy Cats," never fails to buckle my knees and tremble my lips.

Buckling and trembling. That's what it's all about.

John Lennon had a lot...or nothing... on his mind during the "lost weekend," but from the sound of "Pussy Cats," Phil Spector was hanging around his pons...somewhere.  Say what you will about the material and the approach, not to mention the early signs of Harry Nilsson's fatiguing vocals, but "Pussy Cats" has more than a few classics, including "Don't Forget Me" and a Plastic Ono Band-inspired "Many Rivers To Cross." Yet, it is "Save The Last Dance For Me" that packs the biggest wallop. I think it's simply gorgeous.

Ben. E. King sings the bittersweet lyrics over a hopeful cha-cha. But Harry Nilsson pleads his case over a desperate march. 

My kinda guy.


Ken D said...

A few years back there was a great Doc Pomus tribute concert in Prospect Park. Before "Save the Last Dance for Me," someone told the story that the song was written after Pomus's own wedding. Since he was disabled and on crutches, Pomus spent the evening cheerily watching his new wife dance with many other men... but knowing "who'd be taking you home."

I don't share your love for the Nilsson version. (yes, "desperate march" pretty much describes it) For me, runner-up to The Drifters is Aaron Neville's version on the mostly-wonderful "Till The Night is Gone" tribute album.

FD13NYC said...

Harry's heartbreaking version has always been a favorite of mine. Brings back certain kind of memories from long ago.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I've never heard this version before, and it makes me wish John had done some more interesting things with "Rock and Roll", even thought that wasn't the point.

Sal Nunziato said...


Really thought "Rock & Roll" was a mess, and could've been better. "Pussy Cats" seems cleaner and more focused, if you could believe it.

Jeff in Denton TX said...

It's interesting that you refer to "Pussy Cats" as oft-maligned. Perhaps it was at the time of its release, but most reviews I've read in various album guides laud it as a lost classic.

DeepKarma said...

That is incredible. Thanks Sal!

steve simels said...

I really HATED that record when it came out. I'm gonna have to see if I can find the piece I did on it at the old STEREO REVEW; I bet I was too chickenshit to say how much I hated it.