Saturday, January 09, 2010

Scotch and Soda

I went into San Francisco Thursday night to a really lovely intimate spot, called Zingari.  It's a wonderful Italian restaurant with a separate jazz lounge that is part of the Hotel Donatello, near
San Francisco's Union Square.  I first discovered it several years ago when my dear friend, Sony Holland, who rivals the best of the best jazz greats, used to sing there.  Sony, sadly for me, is now in Los Angeles. I went back to Zingari to hear Shota Osabe,  my favorite jazz pianist, who has also become a friend.  He plays for a number of vocalists in the Bay area and does arrangements for various artists as well.  He is truly incredible!  Thursday night, the singer was Anne O'Brien.  I had not heard her perform before but I enjoyed her selections from the Great American Songbook and her lovely voice.

For once the small room was quite crowded.  At a table near me, there was a group of six women, laughing and clearly having a wonderful time.  I walked in while the band was on break and immediately went and put ten dollars in the tip jar on the piano.  One of the ladies at the table commented, "That's generous, you haven't heard them."  I laughed and told them I knew the piano player, at least, would be outstanding.  I stopped to chat with the women and found out that they were nurses ( of course, that explained the rowdiness! ) and they were from Montana, attending a conference in our fair city.  They were delighted to escape the cold for a few days!
When the band returned, Anne tried to come up with a Montana song but had to settle for something with a Western flavor.

During the course of the evening, I met Anne O'Brien and chatted with her a bit.  She is such a lovely lady.  While they waited for their dinner, always included with their gig, Shota played solo piano for several numbers which is sheer magic.  I just sat there, mesmerized.  His fingers glide over the keyboard, eliciting melodies that transport me into other worlds, other times.

Mary, the bartender, at Zingari, is a lovely young lady, always pleasant and smiling.  Of course, it is nice to have a job where there is great jazz almost every night!  That would make me pretty happy, too.  At the end of the evening ( the group played till 11PM  and, of course, I was the last one there ), Anne announced, they were going to do a song for Mary.  Well, when she started singing, I sat bolt upright, my heart began pounding and tears welled up in my eyes.  In her beautiful clear voice, she began singing, "Scotch and Soda."  I was suddenly 19-years-old again and a student nurse back in New Orleans, dancing very close with a young ear, nose and throat resident, the love of my life, in the Attic, a smoky bar, our hangout, in the French Quarter.  During his residency, for four years, we came to San Francisco every two weeks for his Navy active duty so this city is filled with memories of him as well.  For the next six years, that man was an intimate part of my life and he remained a dear friend until his death three years ago,  He was a wonderful doctor and, all of my nursing school classmates who married and remained in New
Orleans, went to him and took their children to him.  May he rest in peace.

 Click to hear the Kingston Trio sing my snuggly dancing song.

Scotch and Soda

Scotch and soda, mud in your eye.
Baby, do I feel high, oh, me, oh, my.
Do I feel high.
Dry martini, jigger of gin.
Oh, what a spell you've got me in, oh, my.
Do I feel high.

People won't believe me.
They'll think that I'm just braggin'.
But I could feel the way I do and still be on the wagon.
All I need is one of your smiles.
Sunshine of your eyes, oh, me, oh, my.
Do I feel high.

People won't believe me.
They'll think that I'm just braggin'.
But I could feel the way I do and still be on the wagon.
All I need is one of your smiles.
Sunshine of your eyes, oh, me, oh, my.
Do I feel higher than a kite can fly.
Give me lovin', baby. I feel high.

Dave Guard


  1. First, Shota is pretty awesome especially in intimate settings like Zingari. The lyrics to this song are amazing.

  2. The place sounds really nice! I'm SO sorry about "that once in a lifetime love" least that's what is sounds like....What a memory and What a Guy...

  3. Dulce1:45 PM

    No doubt you cried at this... my sweet lady
    > What a beautiful and moving post.

  4. Pour me one, please!

  5. Ahh I think most of us have at least one strong and stirring memory with the love of our life, thank you for sharing yours, this was a beautiful post.....:-) Hugs

  6. thanks for sharing your beautiful yong love Carmen, and this inspiring story that led you to write this beautiful poem

  7. Sounds like you had a great time at Zingari, and it must be nice to be there in person.

  8. How lovely that was; your story and the song. I'd love to hear Anne sing it and Shota playing!

  9. Nothing more romantic than a lively place with fantastic jazz. I could sit back too, with a rum and coke.

  10. Scotch and Soda, and I shall feel high too.

    I won't know who and where I am.

  11. Sounds a lovely outing you have enjoyed. Love the song and the singers... I shall listen to more on YT.

    Love Granny

  12. I didn't know this song and I enjoyed it very much. I can understand why it is an emotionally charged song for you. Beautiful post, Carmen!

  13. Music can be so powerful in rekindling, memories and emotions.

    Oh to have experienced love like this is grand.

  14. like the poem
    hotel seems interesting

  15. Margie: I really enjoyed that.

  16. That is a great song- I haven't thought of it in a long time. I'm not a big jazz fan, but some is OK. Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

  17. Oh, Carmen, I have tears in my eyes reading this. What a lovely memory, though.
    There is an award for you on my blog.

  18. Anonymous7:51 PM

    Isn't it amazing how something like that can stir memories from our senses (sounds, smells, places) and take us back in time to something so near and dear to our hearts. Lucky you !!

  19. Poetic Shutterbug - I hadn't heard "Scotch and
    Soda" in years. I came home that night and
    downloaded the Kingston Trio version from
    YouTube onto my computer.

    Donna - he truly was the love of my life and he
    had such a struggle. Back, forty-eight
    years ago at Charity, I think the interns
    made about $100/week and the residents made
    little more. It was a wonderful time in my
    life, though.

    Dulce - my love and I left New Orleans about
    the same time - he to do his Navy active duty
    and me to live with my mom for a year while
    my father did one of his three tours in Viet
    Nam, then I went to Boston. We agreed to see
    other people but we saw each other about
    once a month. I ended up meeting the man I
    married but, the hardest thing I ever did
    was fly to North Carolina to tell John. I
    cried all the way back to Boston. He had
    asked me to wait another few months till
    he was out of the Navy and back in New
    Orleans so that we could get married. I
    should have.

    Willow - are you a scotch drinker? I like
    scotch but with water or straight as in the
    case of good single malts.

    Bernie - I'm glad you liked this post. It felt
    good writing it. I have so many special
    memories of this man.

    betchai - I'm glad you read this tale. I wish
    you could have known John. I read my blog
    to my best friend - a dorm mate from nursing
    school days and she was just amazed at how
    well it captured everything. She loved our
    doctor, too, and was a friend and patient of
    his from our nursing school days onward. She
    said he continued to see patients up until
    nearly the end of his life though he had
    lost over a hundred pounds and was very ill.
    I'm glad I wasn't there at that time.

    Alaine - Shota does have two CDs out - Happy
    Coat ( he is Japanese - you may or may not
    remember those items of clothing ) and
    Happy Count ( Count Basie songs ) - he also
    has a couple of songs, I believe, on his
    myspace page which you can access with a
    Shota Osabe, myspace search - same with
    Anne O'Brien.

    By the way, thanks for coming to my blog.

    lakeviewer - what kind of rum do you drink? I
    have done a serious study of rums of the
    world. My very favorite of all is Mt. Gay
    from Barbados. I also like Goslings from
    Bermuda. Of course, I have been to both
    of those islands. I always try the local
    rums everywhere I visit but, thus far, those
    two are my favorites. I like the dark rums
    and I think they are certainly more flavor-
    ful in coke but the white seem to be best
    in daiquairis and that type of drink.

    rainfield61 - you are so funny. Is that like
    one tequila, two tequia, three tequila,

    Granny on the Web - unfortunately, the two are
    not on YouTube but you can hear a couple
    of their songs by putting in a google search
    with their names - Shota Osabe, myspace and
    Anne O'Brien, myspace.

  20. fullet - I'm glad you liked "Scotch and Soda" -
    it is definitely long before your time but
    it was a great song. Writing about John was
    good for me. I cried buckets this weekend
    listening to that song and remembering but,
    you know, I think it's really the first time
    I really cried since I heard about his

    Liss - oh, you are so right. It is wonderful
    to have had a love like this!

    sm - the Donatello is a lovely spot. Great
    Italian food at Zingari, their restaurant.
    If I ever start working again, I'd like to
    attend one of their monthly "dinners with
    the winemaker" where one of the area ( Napa,
    Sonoma, etc ) comes and serves their wines
    with the different courses.

    Margie and Edna - you're a romantic!

    Sharkbytes - there were some really wonderful
    songs back then. I downloaded so many from
    YouTube to my computer this weekend...lots
    from the 60's and 70's that I liked - what
    memories they brought back!

    Welchcakes Limoncello - thanks for the lovely
    award. I will get to work on the
    assignment". I'm glad you were touched by
    my story of John.

    Anonymous - sorry, Beth, my friend of almost
    fifty years, I don't know why google wouldn't
    let you put your name. You've been part of
    my life for so long, you and Luther. You've
    seen me though so much and I cherish you two.

  21. SO scotch and soda is all you need to be a little bit high =P