Shirley Bassey – The Ballad Of The Sad Young Men (1972 Recording)
Published on Jun 1, 2015
1972 Shirley Bassey recorded and release this wonderful torch song on her 1972 LP titled, ‘And I Love You So.’ This record was also released as a single (Side A), with Side (B) being the song, ‘If I Should Love Again’. Although this song did not chart, Shirley’s live renditions of this song over the years has been very well received. This songs means different things to different people, because most people do not know of the context of the musical, ‘The Nervous Set’ for which this song was originally written. So, if you are interested, here it is:
ABOUT The Nervous Set, The Musical (1959)
The first scene of The Nervous Set is Washington Square Park, where we find Bunny, an author, Brad, the editor of Nerves, a wildly avant-garde magazine and Danny, the poet. Together with other indigenous Village fauna they state their credo. Jan then appears; she is an attractive young woman, and the boys know she is from uptown because she is wearing a skirt rather than pants. Jan loves living in New York, but Brad and Danny explain that they are tired of such nonsense, and Brad invites her to his apartment. Jan capriciously accepts sensing that she may be falling in love.
A turn of the panels brings the action forward to the following Spring. Brad and Jan are now married, and find it a Fun Life. Their apartment is invaded by the wild-eyed Yogi whom Brad takes on as an associate editor for Nerves, despite the fact that Yogi has nearly assaulted the landlady. When Jan returns home from work, she persuades Brad to spend the weekend with her family in Connecticut, and another turn of the panels takes them to Fairfield County, where a party is in progress.
Dismayed by the squareness of the squires, Brad takes refuge in the bottom of an empty swimming pool, where he is joined by Sari Shaw, who is strikingly beautiful and strikingly available, and after a brief preliminary discussion, Brad makes the most of his opportunities. Back in New York, he and Jan agree that they really like the Night People, and set out for a party given at Bunny’s apartment. There Jan discovers that she must learn to adjust to Brad’s friends, particularly when she hears Danny explain how to make the most of one’s psychoses. In an attempt to be carefree and beat, she flirts with Bunny, but finds herself unable to continue and, looking about her, muses on the waste she sees.
Brad, who is touched by her sentiments, agrees to spend a quiet evening at home, and they discuss plans for the future, when he can become a country gentleman. Their plans are interrupted by Danny, who urges them to join him at dinner at the Melancholy Pigeon with Max the Millionaire whom Danny is tutoring in poetry at fifty dollars an hour. Max explains the pleasure he takes in the company of his friends but Jan is distressed, and accuses the group of fleecing Max. He agrees with her, but points out the fun that he finds with them. Jan rushes out, and Brad defiantly goes off with Danny and Yogi to a Sutton Place party given in honor of Bunny, who has just sold his novel.
Bunny, better able to cope with the complexities of the pace than the others, explains his formula. And Brad, impressed by his idea, finds he misses Jan and returns to the apartment while the party goes riotously on.
Sing a song of sad young men, glasses full of rye
All the news is bad again, kiss your dreams goodbye
All the sad young men, sitting in the bars
Knowing neon nights, and missing all the stars
All the sad young men, drifting through the town
Drinking up the night, trying not to drown
All the sad young men, singing in the cold
Trying to forget, that they’re growing old
All the sad young men, choking on their youth
Trying to be brave, running from the truth
Autumn turns the leaves to gold, slowly dies the heart
Sad young men are growing old, that’s the cruelest part
All the sad young men, seek a certain smile
Someone they can hold, for just a little while
Tired little girl, does the best she can
Trying to be gay, for a sad young men
While a grimy moon, watches from above
All the sad young men, who play at making love
Misbegotten moon shine for sad young men
Let your gentle light guide them home again
All the sad, sad, sad, young men
Special Thanks to Pieter, Astrid and others from the Shirley Bassey blog, and all those who have contributed wonderful pictures of Shirley!