It’s “Blue Monday,” and that is today’s Song of the Day, written by Dave Bartholomew, originally recorded by Smiley Lewis but performed here at “Austin City Limits” in 1986 by Fats Domino in a band that includes Ponderosa Stomp regulars Bartholomew and Herb Hardesty, as well as Joseph “Smokey” Johnson on drums, Lee Allen on tenor, guitarist Jimmy Moliere, and Roger Lewis doing the famous baritone solo created by Hardesty.
Fats had met sax player Sam Lee, Harrison Verrett’s cousin, at the Watkins Hotel and invited him to play on the session. Lee, nicknamed “Hold That Note” for his ability to play extended notes, was supposed to play the baritone solo on “Blue Monday,” but the versatile Herbert Hardesty had to step in to play another classic solo. “’Blue Monday’ is as close to perfection as one can imagine,” music writer Hank Davis would later observe. “The eight-bar sax break is a gem of almost frightening economy. It is one of the most memorable, bluesy, and yet simple runs in all of r&b.” Ironically, Hardesty had never played baritone saxophone before and didn’t even like the instrument. The song was the third future #1 r&b hit that Domino recorded that month.
Below is Smiley Lewis’ version, recorded two years earlier than Domino’s studio version: