Miss Otis Regrets

See also the feature on the German version, Mein Mann ist Verhindert.

Miss Otis Regrets (Cole Porter) was first performed on stage by Douglas Byng in Hi Diddle Diddle, which opened October 3, 1934 at the Savoy Theatre, London. However, the song was originally written for Ada “Bricktop” Smith[1] to perform.

“Miss Otis Regrets” is a song in the blues style, and Porter’s wry take on some common lyrical subject matter of the genre, telling the tale of a woman who comes to a bad end after an encounter with a man. But Porter’s peculiar twist is that Miss Otis is a polite society lady, and the story of her last evening is told by her servant after Miss Otis has met her demise. In a few compact lines, the servant reveals how, after being seduced and then abandoned, Miss Otis hunted down and shot her seducer, was arrested, taken from the jail by a mob, and hanged. The servant conveys Miss Otis’s final, polite, apologetic words to her friends: “Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today.” — from the wikipedia article

Among the many artists to record Miss Otis Regrets are Ethel Waters, Nat King Cole, Edith Piaf , Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, The Mills Brothers, Marlene Dietrich, and Patricia Barber.

Ethel Waters – 1934


Edith Piaf – en français – 1946


Marlene DietrichMein Mann ist Verhindert – German text by Lothar Metzl


Ella Fitzgerald – from Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook, her first album for Verve, also the first in her songbook series.


Nat King Cole – 1960

Information from the youtube provider, Nocaro — June 16, 2009:

Although this song was recorded live in the wee hours of the morning of January 14, 1960 at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, Capitol Records inexplicably delayed the released of this performance until 1966, a year after Nat had died. This is a bravura vocal on Cole Porter’s classic story of a society lady who kills her lover, is arrested, but then is taken from her jail cell and hung by an angry mob. Her pronouncement before she died was to tell whomever, “Miss Otis Regrets She’s Unable To Lunch Today”. The song itself was written by Porter in 1934 for the London stage play “Hi Diddle Diddle”, and has become a jazz standard recorded by many, but rarely as soulfully as Nat does here.



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