“Days of Wine and Roses” by Henry Mancini
“Days of Wine and Roses” is the title track to a particular movie and accordingly fits into said flick’s storyline. And that movie is fundamentally about (spoiler alert) a romantic relationship that falls apart as the result of alcoholism. Indeed going through its plot, as provided by Wikipedia, makes it sort of obvious that the film was designed as a roundabout PSA against the dangers of alcohol consumption.
But anyway, as far as the title of the movie and subsequently the song goes, the logical reasoning would be that the presence of the word “wine” has something to do with the fact that alcohol plays such a prominent part in the movie. But as far as the song itself, that doesn’t necessarily appear to be the case. And instead it would seem that the title in its entirety is symbolic. And what it represents are days past in the relationship between the singer and the addressee when the two of them were actually happy together.
But eventually said romance falls apart, seemingly for good. This is made apparent via a couple of metaphors available in this terse piece. And to note this is also how the movie ends, with the two lovers at the center of the storyline parting ways, after of course earlier days of revelry.
And whereas, based solely on the lyrics, the vocalist doesn’t particularly seem emotional either way, the implication is that in the very least he considers “the days of wine and roses” to have been more pleasant than the present.
So simply put, this is a breakup song. And it would appear that the vocalist misses the days of carefree love as opposed to now being separated from the one he shared that experience with.
Writing Credits for “Days of Wine and Roses”
This classic was written by the late Johnny Mercer (1909-1976). However, both he and Henry Mancini were recognized, with the latter being credited for composing the music, when this track won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 1962. Same thing happened in 1964 when it took home both the Record of the Year as well as Song of the Year Grammy Awards.
More Facts about “Days of Wine and Roses”
So with a hit this huge of course a number of big-name artists of that day – such as Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), Perry Como (1912-2001), Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996), Tony Bennett and Shirley Bassey, have covered it.
Henry Mancini’s version, which he apparently conducted, came out in 1963. And it was a mild hit in that it broke the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 and the top 10 of Billboard’s Easy Listening chart.
But a name you probably never heard of, Andy Williams (1927-2012), actually had the most success with it at the time, with his rendition peaking at number nine on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart.
This tune was actually put together to serve as the title track to a movie that came out in 1962 that Henry Mancini scored. The stars of that film were Jack Lemmon (1925-2001) and Lee Remick (1935-1991). And it also featured the late Jack Klugman (1922-2012) of The Odd Couple fame.
Henry Mancini (1924-1994) was one of the greatest musicians of his era, with 20 Grammy Awards to prove it. He was so great that in 2004 the USPS even put out a postal stamp in his honor. But being more of an instrumentalist than a frontman, he’s probably not a name you’ve heard before. Yet he’s responsible for some of the best-known theme songs ever, such as those to The Pink Panther and Peter Gunn. The biggest conventional hit he ever had was 1961’s Moon River, which also won an Oscar on top of a couple of Grammys for himself and Johnny Mercer.