One more for the road: song and fiction alike.

Jackie Gleason was ready for one more for the road.
Jackie Gleason was ready for one more for the road.

Why would a team whose mascot is the tiger choose the song, “Hold That Tiger” and various hybrids of it for their fight song? The lyrics include, “Hold that tiger don’t let ’im get away.”

Seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? Especially when some of the more popular sports involve running. You’d think they’d want those tigers to run free and win more.

Considering the influence that Mothers Against Drunk Driving has had, combined with the advertising from beer and liquor companies to “drink responsibly,” it seems inappropriate to suggest that someone have “one for the road” just before they leave a drinking venue, presumably to drive home. (However, locally sponsored “Tipsy Taxi” services are popular around drinking holidays like New Years Eve and St. Patrick’s Day.)

The origins of the phrase, “one for the road” are about as clear as a heavy drinker’s vision after a long night of hard partying.

Rumor has it that the story involves condemned prisoners en route to the gallows and the wagon stops at a bar so they can have one last drink “for the road” on the way to die.  Snopes shot that one down.

The phrases, “one for the road” and “one more for the road” have shown up in popular music for years. Two of the more commonly known instances involve Frank Sinatra and Boz Scaggs. Two more recent entries arrive courtesy of Judas Priest and Bruce Springsteen.

Baby boomers should be familiar with both “One for My Baby (and one more for the road)” and “Lido Shuffle.”  Younger music aficionados will certainly remember Scaggs’ hit single from 1977 and if they enjoy classics probably have heard a cover of the Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer classic(1943)  by Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett (although it has been covered by many artists including Billie Holiday, Lou Reed, Lena Horne, Etta James, Willie Nelson, Lou Reed, Bette Midler, Perry Como and Chuck Berry).

The more recent contributions to the drinking and driving genre are distinguished by amusing aspects. An original song from the betraying clergy is featured on an album by the name of Rocka Rola and the wording is in a font style that mimics Coca Cola. Meanwhile, The Boss engages in a bit of one-upmanship with his composition, “Two for the Road,” but the Jersey bard’s song is more of a flashback to “Born to Run” than it is a drinking song.

In my serial novel, The Presidents Club, none other than Louie the bartender has a line, “If I’m riding with a detective, it should be safe for me to have one for the road.”  You don’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar to know that’s a good bet.

Drink up, Louie! And then hop into the unmarked police car. Let’s take a ride.


Trivia question for my fellow boomers: Which actor was the first to perform Johnny Mercer’s lyrics on the big screen?  Extra points if you can name the movie, too. (No fair using Google!)

TheTouristKiller6Please click the book cover to learn more about FCEtier’s novel, The Tourist Killer, on Amazon.



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