South Pacific was such a great play…

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s best in my opinion — delivering a passel of outstanding numbers including “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair”, “Some Enchanted Evening” and  of course “This Nearly Was Mine”.

Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle took the Rodgers & Hammerstein original of “This Nearly Was Mine” and delivered it as a popular standards number on the superb The Concert Sinatra LP back in 1963 (my Jan/2012 review). Over the years, I believe that Sinatra/Riddle version has become THE definitive rendition of the number.

Nelson weaving his wonderful arrangements around the waltzing gait of the Broadway classic and Sinatra’s distinctive balladeer style takes the operatic edge off the number — both making it much more approachable and transforming the song into a classic popular standard.

Bobby Surprised me…

I’ve been pretty set on assigning Frank’s version “definitive status” for “This Nearly Was Mine” until I heard Bobby Darin’s take on the number last week. I was driving home from an errand fest and nearly wrecked my car when Bobby popped up on Siriusly Sinatra with a completely re-envisioned interpretation.

Others have offered great versions…

Andy Williams, Barbara Cook and other’s have delivered fine version of this song to be sure. Oscar Peterson and Chick Corea offer up excellent jazz piano interpretations as well … though I think the best jazz styling for “This Nearly…” comes to us from Bucky Pizzarelli and his wonderful guitar.

All those versions pretty much maintain the original’s pronounced “one-two-three, one-two-three…” waltz tempo; and the vocals likewise stay close to Frank’s path with the song (though none transform it like Frank/Nelson did).

Bobby turns the classic style of “This Nearly…”  ass-over-teakettle and trots out a toe tapping, finger snapping number as only he can. Tossing the waltz aside like your dad’s stuffy button down sweater, Bobby Darin dons his sharkskin suit, crocodile shoes and puts an “Artificial Flowers” pace on the number that demands tap’n and snap’n!

This is why I love this genre…

With a driving bass and horns-o-plenty, Bobby’s up-tempo version of “This Nearly Was Mine” may not sit well with the traditionalist set, but that’s the reason I love this music so much. I’ve been an avid consumer of the standards for more years — ok, decades — than I’m happy to recount, but just last week I find a song from 50 years ago that redefines the music that I thought I knew so well.

This genre has so much dynamic range… it’s rich with amazing interpretations by quality artists from today and going back 75 years … it’s crazy and fun. I’m constantly wandering into “new-to-me” artists and songs … finding smokey back rooms with great numbers playing that change the way I see the whole genre.

Hit the PLAY buttons below and give Frank and Bobby a listen — let them sell you on their respective versions of “This Nearly Was Mine” … I was going to snag a polling widget for this post so you could vote on your favorite version, but after thinking about it for a bit, I don’t think it’s about “which one is better” as much as how good both versions are and how cool it is that there’s a place for them in the American Songbook.

Frank … the definitive “This Nearly Was Mine”…

This Nearly Was Mine (Album Version)

Bobby’s Swing’n toe tapper version is too fun!

This Nearly Was Mine (Digitally Remastered 99)