About The Song

Put Pomus and Shuman together with Lieber and Stoller. Add the Drifters. And you end up with a classic.

Save the Last Dance for Me by the Drifters was a joint enterprise by the two greatest songwriting teams of the early rock era: it was written by Pomus and Shuman, and produced by Lieber and Stoller. No wonder it was a massive hit in 1960 in the US and UK.

And it certainly didn’t hurt having Ben E King – later most famous for Stand By Me – singing lead. The Drifters had already used strings on their records, most famously on There Goes My Baby, the first fully-orchestrated rock hit, but not like this – the soaring, swirling violins underline the yearning in King’s gravelly, sad, yet sweeping vocals.

Allegedly Doc Pomus, who used a wheelchair, wrote it after his wedding day when he saw his wife, an actor and dancer, enjoying the party chatting and dancing with guests. “But don’t forget who’s taking you home, and in whose arms you’re gonna be …”

But there is a melancholy undertone – the girl in the song is a flirt and the singer is begging her to be faithful to him at the last. But he doesn’t sound too hopeful.
The tune, the vocals, the narrative, the arrangement – all are perfect.

See also  The Drifters - Under the Boardwalk


3 thoughts on “The Drifters – Save the Last Dance for Me”
  1. Meet Johnny while he was in the army my husband was in his same outfit that’s when Benny king took over lead till Johnny came back
    In 1959 he had a great voice

  2. Once, in my village school in Denmark, dear Chubby Checker came to perform at a school ball (40 km from Copenhagen)- and he liked teenagers – that was obvious. Our dear priest saw to it. Dunno how he did it.
    Chubby Checker was SO sweet and understanding and corrected us kindly, when he could hear, that our danish ears had misunderstood the text.
    Example: He sang “Hey, man” WE sang “Amen”. He explained in a loving manner.
    This is the best school ball, I can remember.

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