"Miss Otis Regrets" (Ethel Waters, 1934)




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Published on Nov 9, 2008

A charmingly sinister tale, elegantly told by Ethel Waters. One of Cole Porter's quirkier and more ghoulish tunes:


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.
Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today.

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

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

Miss Otis regrets... she's unable to lunch today...


More, from our friends at Wiki:

Miss Otis Regrets is a song by Cole Porter from 1934. It was first performed on stage by Douglas Byng in Hi Diddle Diddle, which opened October 3, 1934 at the Savoy Theatre, London. However, the song was originally written for Ada "Bricktop" Smith[1] to perform.

"Miss Otis Regrets" is a song in the blues style, and Porter's wry take on some common lyrical subject matter of the genre, telling the tale of a woman who comes to a bad end after an encounter with a man. But Porter's peculiar twist is that Miss Otis is a polite society lady, and the story of her last evening is told by her servant after Miss Otis has met her demise. In a few compact lines, the servant reveals how, after being seduced and then abandoned, Miss Otis hunted down and shot her seducer, was arrested, taken from the jail by a mob, and hanged. The servant conveys Miss Otis's final, polite, apologetic words to her friends: "Miss Otis regrets she's unable to lunch today."

The song has been recorded by Nat King Cole, Ethel Waters, Edith Piaf,Nancy Wilson, Jose Feliciano, Linda Ronstadt, Ella Fitzgerald, Kirsty MacColl with The Pogues, The Mills Brothers, LaBelle, Bette Midler, John Barrowman, Josh White, Bryan Ferry, The Pine Valley Cosmonauts, Shani Rigsbee, Richard Manuel, The Lemonheads and others. The title of the Cheers episode "Mr. Otis Regrets" is also, presumably, a reference to the song.

  • Category

  • Song

  • Artist

    • Ethel Waters
  • Album

    • PORTER, Cole: Let's Misbehave! (1927-1940)
  • Writers

    • Cole Porter
  • Licensed to YouTube by

    • AdShare MG for a Third Party (on behalf of Naxos_thenax); Warner Chappell, UBEM, LatinAutor, PEDL, LatinAutor - Warner Chappell, and 3 Music Rights Societies


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