A very vintage, very cretinous apology song!

not so much.

Whispering Jack Smith, (born Jacob Schmidt in the Bronx at the end of the 19th century) didn’t really whisper. He spoke-sung with a gentle, quiet, breathy cadence that he blamed on inhaling poison gas during his heroic WWI service on the battlefields of France. Good story! Actually, he was totally capable of belting, but he did really serve in the Great War, and who doesn’t love a good story and a memorable nickname? Whispering Jack’s soft, airy, talky-sing-y vibe was probably more a tribute to the development of the microphone in 1925 than to any need to whisper; it also helped distinguish him from the loud, raucous, vaudeville pack. His big hits were “Baby Face,” “Gimme a Little Kiss, Will Ya, Huh?” and “Me and My Shadow.”  He also appeared in an early Hollywood musical, 1930’s Cheer Up and Smile.

But we are here to talk about “Are You Sorry?” his popular apology number. And oh, Jack, no! 

The relevant lyrics:

I can’t forget the way you made me cry
how I regret the day you said goodbye
Are you sorry? Really sorry? 
Do you think of me now and then
Do you miss me?
Long to kiss me?
Wouldn’t you like to make up again? 
Life without you don’t mean a thing, dear
It doesn’t matter who was to blame, dear
Are you sorry
Say you’re sorry
‘cause I’m sorry too.


Dude, no. First of all, if you want to get back together, you do not ask your former paramour if they’re sorry! You apologize to them! And leading with guilt (“I can’t forget the way you made me cry”) is a real warning that a person is going to just keep guilting you as long as you’re in a relationship. Then there’s lots of noodge-y, wheedling questions, and, reality check, anyone who says “it doesn’t matter who was to blame” is the one who is to blame. Whispering Jack’s own apology doesn’t come until the very end of the chorus, 11 sentences in! Feh!

If it helps any, the manipulative, demanding, winsome creepiness is even worse in “Gimme A Little Kiss.”

Gimme a little kiss, will ya, huh?
What are you gonna miss, will ya, huh?
Gosh, oh gee, why do you refuse?
I can’t see what you’ve got to lose
Oh, gimme a little squeeze, will ya, huh?
Why do you wanna make me blue?
You know I wouldn’t say a word if I were asking for the world
But what’s a little kiss between a fella and his girl?
Oh, gimme a little kiss, will ya, huh?
And I’ll give it right back to you!


YOU IN DANGER, GIRL. Everybody just stop debating whether that Christmas song is rapey or not, because we just found the anthem of the #metoo movement! The guy just keeps pressuring the female listener; he flatly refuses to take no for an answer. It’s her fault that he’s blue! Why won’t she understand that she has nothing to lose! Oh, run like the wind, female listener! The song even uses the phrase”in a rage” when she won’t deliver.

Also, my teenage daughter walked in as I was listening to “Baby Face” and said, “Ew. Freak.”

Let’s stick to a different Whispering Jack hit, “I’m Afraid of You.” Better!

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4 Responses to A very vintage, very cretinous apology song!

  1. snarly says:

    FYI, the composer of “I’m Afraid of You” was a distant cousin of mine, Archie Gottler. However, I did not know this when I was looking for non-creepy Whispering Jack Smith songs. This one was also covered by Bing Crosby, should this ever come up on Jeopardy.

  2. pablo says:

    In terms of musical apologies, I do think Christine Lavin’s musical apology (full title: “Regretting What I Said to You When You Called Me at Eleven O’clock on a Friday Morning to Tell Me That at One O’clock Friday Afternoon You’re Gonna Leave Your Office, Go Downstairs, Hail a Cab to Go out to the Airport to Catch a Plane to Go Skiing in the Alps for Two Weeks. Not That I Wanted to Go with You, I Wasn’t Able to Leave Town, I’m Not a Very Good Skier, I Couldn’t Expect You to Pay My Way, But After Going Out with You for Three Years, I Don’t Like Surprises”) does fare better, in spite of its faults. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_6XMqcEqiI

    • sumac says:

      That’s a great song! “I don’t really want to see you dismembered by the marijuana-sniffing dogs when a simple little nipping would suffice.”

  3. tanita says:

    Hah, the teen response of, “Eeew. Freak,” is my reaction to much of pop music love/relationship songs, because… seriously, eew, the lyrics are freaktastic. I mean, NO ONE wants to hear that sort of manipulative, narcissistic, semi-psychosis from anyone IRL, so why do we just bop along with that in pop songs????

    Yet another supporting point for my lifetime thesis paper titled Humanity: Completely Baffling & Other Theories

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