Monday, April 6, 2009

"At Last": The Truth About "Etta James'" Song

There was a piece in the news several weeks ago about some nasty words thrown at Beyonce Knowles and President Barack Obama by singer Etta James. Apparently Ms. James was upset that Beyonce (who played Etta James in the film Cadillac Records) sang "her song" that she had been singing "forever"at one of the inaugural balls. The song in question was James' 1961 hit "At Last."

But wait a minute, "forever?" That's a long time and as it happens "At Last" was written in 1941 by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the 1942 film Orchestra Wives. Etta James was three. The song was originally performed by Glenn Miller and his band in Orchestra Wives (along with "Serenade in Blue" and other great tunes), the vocals being sung by Ray Eberle and the beautiful Lynn Bari (pictured, dubbed by Pat Friday). It was a huge hit for the Miller band eighteen years before James cut her version. There was also a popular version recorded by Nat King Cole in the 1950's.

So I say to Ms. James, cut Beyonce some slack. "At Last" is a great song that has obviously stood the test of time to be sung and shared by all who love it.


  1. Absolutely; so glad you pointed this out!

  2. Here! Here! Well said!.....Glenn Miller is my favourite X

  3. I have a dvd and a vhs of Orchestra Wives & Sun Valley Serenade respectively. After listening to the dubbing that Pat Friday did for Lynn Bari I was amazed to hear the musicianship the studio singers had in that era. Pat's command of loud to soft, intonation, quality of sound and smoothness is something of a rarity nowdays. I was 10 & 11 when these pictures came out and was not that impressed at the time due to my inexperience, but mostly because good singing was so common at the time. After listening to the declining quality that has gradually happened over the years, I believe that was the golden age of pop music.



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