Note: The Springsteen series will continue (and finish) in a few days. In the meantime, One song/three versions:
“Ruby Baby” was originally recorded by The Drifters way back in 1956. Despite my love for early rock and roll and doo-wop, I never heard this song (to my recollection) until Donald Fagen of Steely Dan released his version some 25 years later. The song was written by Lieber and Stoller, a great songwriting duo who penned a number of hits.
I got a girl and Ruby is her name
Ruby Ruby Ruby Baby
She don’t love me but I love her just the same
The Drifters, a ’50’s R&B/doo-wop group, had the first hit with this. Dion later covered it and had an even bigger hit. I’ll go with the Drifters here because A) they did it first and B) my wife and I actually saw them live this past New Year’s Eve. Or at least the latest incarnation of them. Great show with all their hits (“Under the Boardwalk,” “Save the Last Dance for Me,”) etc.
Well each time I see you, baby my heart cries
Well I’m gonna steal you away from all those guys
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, from the sunny day I met ya
I made a bet that I would get ya
Ruby, Ruby, Ruby when will you be mine?
Fagen’s version is totally reconstructed. Jazzy, swinging, I think that, of the three, this is my favorite. I like the use of the backup singers and the nice piano solo. Allmusic says the album is “crafted with impeccable style and sophistication.” And without, I think, losing an ounce of funkiness.
Icelandic singer Bjork actually recorded this as well. It’s a jazzy version, like Fagen’s, but more upbeat. I find her voice to be an acquired taste. But she is mega-popular, more so I think in Europe, and so I wanted to get her on these pages. Plus she dares to be different and I like that.
Oh, Ruby Ruby how I want ya>
Like a ghost I’m
Gonna haunt ya
Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby when will you be mine?