About the song

If you are a fan of classic pop and soul music, you might be familiar with the song “Save the Last Dance for Me” by the Drifters. This song was released in 1960 and became a number one hit in the US and Canada, and a top ten hit in many other countries. But do you know the story behind this song and how it was written?

The song was composed by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, two prolific songwriters who worked with many famous artists such as Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Dion and the Belmonts, and Bobby Darin. Pomus and Shuman wrote the song for the Drifters, a vocal group that had several lead singers over the years, including Ben E. King, who sang on this track.

The song is about a man who tells his partner that she can dance with other men at a party, but she should remember that he is the one who will take her home and love her. The lyrics were inspired by Pomus’ own experience at his wedding in 1957. Pomus had polio and used crutches or a wheelchair to get around. His wife, Willi Burke, was a Broadway actress and dancer. Pomus watched her dance with their guests and felt a mix of joy and insecurity. He later said: “I had this vision of her dancing with somebody else, and me being jealous. I wanted to say to her: ‘I don’t care if you dance with anybody else, but don’t forget who’s taking you home.'”

Pomus wrote the lyrics on the back of an invitation card from his wedding. He gave them to Shuman, who came up with the melody and the catchy chorus. They then brought the song to Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, two famous producers who worked with the Drifters and other groups. Leiber and Stoller arranged and recorded the song with the Drifters, using a Latin rhythm, a string section, and a saxophone solo.

The song was originally intended to be the B-side of another Drifters’ song called “Nobody But Me”. However, Dick Clark, a popular TV host and music promoter, heard the song and convinced Atlantic Records to make it the A-side. The song became a huge success and has been covered by many artists since then, such as Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Michael Bublé, Bruce Springsteen, and Leonard Cohen.

“Save the Last Dance for Me” is not only a great song, but also a touching tribute to Pomus’ love for his wife and his courage to overcome his disability. Pomus once said: “I wrote that song out of love for my wife. It was my way of saying: ‘You’re beautiful, you can do anything you want, but please don’t forget me.'”