Through the miracle of YouTube, I found the original version, recorded by Margaret Whiting and the Frank DeVol Orchestra in 1947. Covers by contemporary performers Kacey Musgraves, Diane Krall and Harry Connick Jr. don't match Whiting's sophisticated yearning. While talented, today's singers lack the depths of a generation that had just been through World War II.
While I heard "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" playing from a supermarket loudspeaker weeks before Christmas, Loesser's "Baby It's Cold Outside," once a holiday classic, has disappeared over intimations of date rape in the song's seductive lyrics. Still, Ray Charles and Betty Carter's version is a wonderful performance portraying a playful, sophisticated game between two adults.
An engaging review of Debbie Harry's memoir "Face it" in the London Review of Books has me returning to old Blondie songs. Harry's live performance of "The Tide Is High," also found on YouTube, put me in the holiday spirit.
For a more melancholy mood, I returned to songs by Amy Winehouse, who brought back 1940s and '50s glamour. Sadly, like Marilyn Monroe, Winehouse gave in to her love affair with death.
What am I doing New Year's Eve? I will make my annual visit to the Morkan sisters' Epiphany dinner, and give my regards to Mary Jane Morkan, Freddy Malins, Molly Ivors, Mr. Browne, Bartell D'Arcy, Garbiel and Gretta Conroy, and Lilly, the caretaker's daughter. I will imagine Michael Furey singing "The Lass of Aughrim" under Gretta's window and the snow falling on the living and the dead.