Patricia Barber: Miss Otis Regrets


Miss Otis Regrets


Patricia Barber (vocals, piano)


The Cole Porter Mix (Blue Notes)

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Patricia Barber (vocals, piano),

Neal Alger (guitar), Nate Smith (drums, percussion)


Composed by Cole Porter


Recorded: Chicago, December 15-21, 2007


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

This story song is one of the strangest tunes in the Cole Porter songbook. Its macabre tale of an unhappy, murderous lover who is eventually killed by a mob reminds me of those tragic Old World ballads that Francis Child once collected. Patricia Barber brings out this old-fashioned element in the song by tackling the opening unaccompanied, much like the folksingers of yore. Yet when Neal Alger enters on electric guitar, backed by a throbbing drumbeat, he makes this performance even darker and more unsettling. Barber's delivery is stark and sober, and the end result is an eerie recording that likely would have surprised Cole Porter (who originally wrote this song for Ada "Bricktop" Smith) but which cuts to the essence of his troubling lyrics.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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