It may be sacrilege to admit this, but I didn’t recognize this Floyd Cramer song by title when I picked up the sheet music at a library sale. The front cover had an engaging energy, though, so I bought it. Probably the RCA Victor dog swayed my decision!
The pup did not lead me astray. In fact, the pup was pointing me to the work of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee. As soon as I went online to hear a recording of “Last Date,” I said, “Oh! It’s that song!” You’ll probably recognize it as well; it’s a 1960 piano-centered instrumental with an easy swing and a country twang. The sheet music provides a satisfying arrangement and includes the “slip-note” piano style that Floyd Cramer made famous.
It was moving to read through the comments sections of YouTube videos like this one and this one from Sony. People have posted bittersweet and fond and loving recollections of the role that “Last Date” has played in their lives. For many people, it was their parents’ song. It reminds others of their grandparents. A woman named Donna Bradshaw wrote, “My mother played this song for my dad all the time. He would sit on the couch and seem to just soak it in. The day my dad died, I rolled my mom into my house in her wheelchair. As we passed the piano, she hit the first few notes to the song. I burst into tears.”
In researching this post, I also learned more about Floyd Cramer. Before he was a successful recording artist, he worked as a profoundly influential session musician in Nashville. His hands have graced the keyboard on countless songs that I love, from many Elvis Presley tunes (“Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight”) to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces.”
Cramer also recorded many albums in which he played instrumental versions of popular hits. I am delighted to report that he recorded an album entitled, “Floyd Cramer Plays The Monkees.” Seriously, where can I find the sheet music for that album?!
For further exploration: The Country Music Hall of Fame: Profile of Floyd Cramer. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: essay about 2003 inductee Floyd Cramer. Graceland: Elvis Presley's Piano Man: Floyd Cramer. Recordnet: Grandson of Floyd Cramer Marvels at Musician's Legacy.