It Was a Very Good Year

"It Was a Very Good Year" is a song composed by Ervin Drake in 1961 and originally recorded by Bob Shane with the Kingston Trio.[1][2]

"It Was a Very Good Year"
Single by Frank Sinatra
from the album September of My Years
B-side"Moment to Moment"
ReleasedDecember 1965
Songwriter(s)Ervin Drake
Producer(s)Sonny Burke
Frank Sinatra singles chronology
"Ev'rybody Has the Right to Be Wrong! (At Least Once)"
"It Was a Very Good Year"
"Strangers in the Night"

It was subsequently made famous by Frank Sinatra's version in D minor,[3] which won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male in 1966. Gordon Jenkins was awarded Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for the Sinatra version. This single peaked at #28 on the U.S. pop chart and became Sinatra's first #1 single on the Easy Listening charts.[4] That version can be found on Sinatra's 1965 album September of My Years. A video record was made of the studio recording of this song, with orchestra conducted by the arranger Gordon Jenkins. Sinatra was to turn 50 years old in December 1965, and because of the CBS special 1965 SPECIAL REPORT: "FRANK SINATRA" hosted by Walter Cronkite, broadcast on November 16, the CBS television cameras were rolling the night earlier in the spring that Sinatra recorded it for the album. (This session is available on YouTube:[5])

This version was featured in The Sopranos season two opener, "Guy Walks into a Psychiatrist's Office...". A live, stripped-down performance is included on his Sinatra at the Sands album.


The nostalgic[6], melancholic song[7][8] recounts the type of girls with whom the singer had relationships at various years in his life: when he was 17, "small-town girls ... under the village green"; at 21, "city girls who lived up the stairs"; at 35, "blue-blooded girls of independent means". Each of these years he calls "very good". In the song's final verse, the singer reflects that he is older, and in the autumn of his years, and he thinks back on his entire life "as vintage wine". All of these romances were sweet to him, like a wine from a very good (i.e., vintage) year.


Ervin Drake's inspiration to write the song was his then wife-to-be, Edith Vincent Bermaine. She was a showgirl, whom he had dated, and eventually married twenty years after the song was written.[9]

Notable recordingsEdit

In popular mediaEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Rubeck, Shaw, Blake et al., The Kingston Trio On Record (Naperville IL: KK Inc, 1986), p. 46
  2. ^ a b Friedwald, Will (2009-04-02). "When He Was 46 it Was a Very Good Year - WSJ". Retrieved 2014-06-20.
  3. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 22 - Smack Dab in the Middle on Route 66: A skinny dip in the easy listening mainstream. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  5. ^ It Was A Very Good Year
  6. ^ Browne, Ray Broadus; Ambrosetti, Ronald J. (1993). Continuities in Popular Culture: The Present in the Past & the Past in the Present and Future. ISBN 9780879725938.
  7. ^
  8. ^ American Icons: Frank Sinatra. Stonesong Press. 2018-04-15. ISBN 9781493033010.
  9. ^ Bernstein, Adam (January 15, 2015). "Ervin Drake, songwriter of 'It Was a Very Good Year,' dies at 95". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-01-15.
  10. ^ Peppiat, Wheaton et. el. Sinatra: A Man and his Music. Warner Bros. DVD, prod. Hemion, Raskin,1999
  11. ^ "Modern Folk Quartet - Modern Folk Quartet | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  12. ^ "Michael Jackson - It Was A Very Good Year - Diana TV Show Special 1971 - GMJHD". Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  13. ^ "Ervin Drake, songwriter - obituary". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  14. ^ ""The Simpsons" Duffless (TV Episode 1993)". IMDb, Inc. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  15. ^ Rabasca Roepe, Lisa. "50 years later, a look back at Sinatra's influential "It Was A Very Good Year"". Retrieved 22 February 2020.

External linksEdit