Black Coffee (1948 song)

"Black Coffee" is a song with music by Sonny Burke and words by Paul Francis Webster. The song was published in 1948.

Sarah Vaughan charted with this song in 1949 on Columbia; arranged by Joe Lipman, it is considered one of the most notable versions.[1]

Peggy Lee recorded the song on May 4, 1953[2] and it was included on her first LP record Black Coffee.

It was included in the soundtrack for the 1960 Columbia Pictures feature Let No Man Write My Epitaph, recorded on Verve by Ella Fitzgerald, also in 1960. The version by Ella Fitzgerald was a favourite song of Polish Nobel Prize laureate Wisława Szymborska who chose it as the song to be performed at her funeral.[3]

Relationship to song "What's Your Story, Morning Glory?"[]

"Black Coffee"'s first two measures are nearly identical to Mary Lou Williams 1938 piece "What's Your Story Morning Glory", and both songs share melodic motifs drawn from blues (including a strong melodic emphasis on the flat third and flat seventh intervals, known as "blue notes"). Williams felt that Burke and Webster plagiarized her composition, and reportedly considered taking legal action over the matter.[4] The two songs have significant melodic and rhythmic differences after the first two measures of their respective 'A' sections, and "Black Coffee" has a completely unique bridge section that has no parallel in "Morning Glory". However, during her piano solo, Williams plays both the identical feel and harmonies that appear on "Black Coffee," with dominant chords moving up and down by half steps in lieu of staying on the tonic chord. While not a carbon copy, Burke and Webster arguably picked sections of "What's Your Story Morning Glory" to string together to create a new song. Coincidentally, jazz trumpeter Paul Webster (no relation to lyricist Paul Francis Webster) was given co-writer cr for "Morning Glory" by Williams when she published her song in 1938.

Other Recordings[]

Other versions of "Black Coffee" were performed by:


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 431. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  2. ^ "Peggy Lee Discography". Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  3. ^ PAP (corporate author) (February 2012). "Wisława Szymborska spoczęła na Cmentarzu Rakowickim". Gazeta Wyborcza (in Polish).
  4. ^ Friedwalk, Will (2017). The great jazz and pop vocal albums. Pantheon Books. ISBN 978-0-30-737907-8.
  5. ^ "". Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  6. ^ "1995 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award Winners". The Contemporary A Cappella Society. Retrieved 2019-10-27.
  7. ^ "Kimiko Itoh – Once You've Been in Love (2004, Digipak, CD)".
  8. ^ spotify
  9. ^ "Anita Eccleston Trio - Jazz".