Weaving a Wine Song of Intrigue

We have reached the half-way point in the countdown of the Vinesse list of the Top 10 Wine Songs of All-Time.

What would Casey Kasem or Dick Clark or Rick Dees do at a time like this?

That’s right: Recap!

The No. 10 position featured a three-way tie among “Tin Cup Chalice” by Jimmy Buffett, “Jack Straw” by Grateful Dead and “Crimes of the Mind” by Phish.

The No. 9 spot went to “The Night That the Band Got the Wine” by Al Stewart.

In the No. 8 spot was Don Ho’s iconic “Tiny Bubbles.”

Coming in at No. 7 was “Killer Queen” by Queen.

And in the No. 6 spot was “Two More Bottles of Wine” by Delbert McClinton.

Five down (actually seven down, if you want to get technical about it) and five to go!

Claiming the No. 5 position is an old folk song of somewhat convoluted origins. “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” was first recorded by The Weavers, the iconic 1950s group that included Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hayes and Fred Hellerman.

But as Seeger explained in his book, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” it wasn’t an original tune by any stretch of the imagination. Its genesis can be traced to an old Irish folk song, includes an adaptation by Lead Belly, and the song ultimately was re-written by members of The Weavers, at least one of whom used a nom de plume.

Confused? Perhaps this link will provide some clarity.

Or not.

In any case, “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” is a love song—somewhat ironic, considering The Weavers were focused mainly on peace and protest songs dealing with civil rights, workers’ rights and human rights. At that time, singing about such topics was enough to get The Weavers labeled as “subversives.”

But there’s nothing even remotely subversive about this song, which traces a love affair from its beginning through parenthood, grandparenthood and old age. It begins like this…

Well, when I was a young man never been kissed
I got to thinkin’ it over how much I had missed
So I got me a girl and I kissed her and then, and then
Oh, lordy, well I kissed her again
Because she had kisses sweeter than wine

Later, Jimmie Rodgers had a hit with the song, and you can hear his version from 1957 here.

Through the years, it also was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, as well as Andy Williams and others.

But I will always consider the definitive version to have been by the group that (more or less) wrote it: The Weavers.

Are you familiar with this song? Is there a version you particularly like? Share your thoughts in our comments box below.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more news and views from the wonderful world of wine, and our countdown will continue with song No. 4 on Wednesday.

Want a clue? Unlike Madonna, who goes by only one name, the singer who wrote and performed our No. 4 song uses three names.

Posted in Editor's Journal
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