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U2 Song for Sinatra Surfaces

George Bugatti channels Ol' Blue Eyes with help from Bono

November 4, 2003 12:00 AM ET

Frank Sinatra never had the chance to record the song "Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad," written specifically for him by U2's Bono and Edge, but the tune hasn't been forsaken. Jazz singer George Bugatti, offered the song by U2 manager Paul McGuiness, recently recorded it for his new album A Night for Romance.

The song traveled a circuitous route to Bugatti: His wife, Mary Shriver-Bugatti, had befriended McGuiness, Bono, Edge and the other members of U2 in the late Eighties after meeting them at Barney's Beanery, a celebrated dive bar in West Hollywood, when the band was in Los Angeles to record Rattle and Hum. When Bugatti was about to go into the studio for his new album, Shriver-Bugatti got in touch with McGuiness to try to dig up something special for the set.

"Two Shots of Happy" is a perfect fit for Bugatti, who in the past has recorded Steve Allen's songs and works similar territory as Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett did. "I have a Sinatra vibe in my music," Bugatti admits. "It's in the phrasing, the song selection."

Bono's song, Bugatti explains, "encapsulates Sinatra's life. It has a little bite to it, some serious emotion." In turn, the U2 camp loved Bugatti's version, according to McGuiness.

The lyrics -- "I'm just a singer, some say a sinner/Rolling the dice, not always a winner" -- evoke a classic image of Sinatra. "Don't try to think about what we might have had," the song continues, "Just two shots of happy, one shot of sad."

Bugatti, who lives in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, rolls into another one of Sinatra's towns early next year, when he's scheduled perform at New York's Lincoln Center.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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