Like John Cusack in one of my favourite movies of all time – High Fidelity – I am a compulsive list maker. My family and I often while away the hours making Top 5 lists. You know how it goes – Top 5 Movies, Top 5 Playstation games, Top 5 books. The lists that are revised the most however, are the music lists. We find it impossible to stick to just 5 top songs or albums, or even bands. Recently, we have become so dissatisfied with our lists that we have had to divide them by genre.

One of my favourite eras in music is the ’40s and ’50s. I love the big bands, the glamour, the elegance, the cool sophistication; but most of all I love the torch song – that heart-wrenching ballad about unrequited love, self-sacrifice and loss. As powerful as an epic poem or an orchestral manouevre, the torch song touches you in places you’ve never been touched before. You are moved by the passion and anguish of the lyrics; the wistfulness of the melodies.

Here are my Top 5 Torch Songs –


Don’t Smoke In Bed by Peggy Lee.
Written by William Robinson in 1947, first recorded by Peggy in 1948.
It appears on The Capitol Years album (EMI)

Don’t look for me, I’ll get ahead
Remember darling, don’t smoke in bed….


The Man That Got Away by Judy Garland.
Words: Ira Gershwin Music: Harold Arlen
It appears on the soundtrack of A Star Is Born (1954)

The night is bitter, the stars have lost their glitter
The moon grows colder, suddenly you’re older
And all because of the man that got away….


As Long As He Needs Me by Doris Day
Written by Lionel Bart in 1960 for the musical Oliver.
Appears on the album Love Him (Columbia, 1963)

I won’t betray his trust, though people say I must
I’ve got to stay true just as long as he needs me….


I Don’t Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You by Linda Ronstadt
Words : Bing Crosby & Ned Washington Music: Victor Young
Originally written in 1932, Linda recorded this wonderful version with Nelson Riddle in 1983.
It appears on the album What’s New.

I need your love so badly, I love you oh, so madly
But I don’t stand a ghost of a chance with you….


Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby by Dinah Washington.
A bit sassier than the others, but a torch song nonetheless.
Written by Billy Austin and Louis Jordan in the late ’40s, it appears on the album Dinah ’62 (Blue Note)

I got a man who’s always late, every time we have a date
But I love him, yes I love him….

I have many more favourite torch songs but these are definitely my Top 5. If I knew how to embed the music thingy I would load them onto this blog so you could hear them; but if you wish to, you can check most of them out at iTunes or Amazon. The torch song – true love gone wrong….the inspiration for some of the best songs ever written.

9 thoughts on “TOP 5 TORCH SONGS.

  1. I really enjoyed reading your views on these songs and the singers. My favorite singer is DORIS DAY. She puts so much depth into her songs and one feels as though she is singing only to you.

    My dream came true in that having been a fan of Doris since age 10 here in the Midwest, I set my ‘eye on the prize’ and eventually made my way to Los Angeles. Once there I met Doris, got to know her well and she invited me into her world. Following a near-fatal car accident, Doris asked me to be her personal secretary while she was filming “THe Doris Day Show” at CBS in the 70s. What an incredible experience with this marvelous screen legend.

    I have a book coming out in 15 days…

    An Indiana Girl’s Sentimental Journey
    To Doris Day’s Hollywood and Beyond

    from Hawthorne Publishing

    Unlike many books on Doris that deal mainly with her career, mine takes the reader up-close and personal with many never-before-told-stories and photos of Doris. It is a lovely tribute to this Great Lady whom I have admired all these years. My memories, now history, can be read by all in DAY AT A TIME as I take the reader…day at a time… bringing a Hollywood world now vanished to life.

    The book website can also be found at:

    Thank you for your wonderful story on the Girl Singers!

    Mary Anne Barothy


  2. The above book mentioned by Mary Anne Barothy is not a good read. It is an insult to anyone who enjoys the talent and career of Doris Day. Do not waste your money or your time with this one. Doris Day deserves so much better than this atrocity.


  3. This book is a piece of garbage. The content cannot be trusted. Doris does not live in Camel in a mansion overlooking the Pebble Beach Golf course and the ocean as stated in the book.

    She lives off the 18th hole of the Quail Lodge golf course in Carmel Valley miles from the sea and Carmel.

    Give me a break


  4. Look, Sam, I haven’t read the book and by leaving the comment there I’m not endorsing it or any other publication about Doris day’s life. I actually left it there because I thought someone might like to check out the book. I don’t know the author personally and she has only commented on my blog that one time. I just happen to like Doris as a singer, that’s all. So give me a break. Sheesh.


  5. There is some wierd happenings in bloggoland lately, Selma. Who are those people? My goodness. I would put Della Reese at the top of my torch singer list. And maybe Janis Joplin too, she took it in a new direction. But your list would be a lovely listen over a couple of bottle of something too.


  6. PAUL:
    I get a few rather passionate people commenting here sometimes. I would never have thought a post about music would get people going. You just never know!!! And Della Reese should definitely be on there…


  7. How interesting that you love the big bands…my favorite singer from that era is June Christy–an amazingly sultry voice, and my favorite song from her is “Something Cool.”
    Have you heard it?


  8. Hi TIMOTEO,
    I guess it’s because I grew up listening to them. I do like June Christy. Fabulous singer. She was a favourite of my Aunt Nelly’s. I have heard ‘Something Cool’ many times!


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