The use of "Among My Souvenirs" in The Best Years of Our Lives is exemplary. Edgar Leslie’s 1927 lyric communicates regret at the passing of time. Trinkets and tokens diligently collected and treasured offer some consolation but do nothing to stop the flow of tears. In the movie, when the U. S. army sergeant played by March comes home, he brings souvenirs of the Pacific war as gifts for his teenage son. But like the knife in Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “Crusoe in England,” when it has become a souvenir on the shelf after Crusoe returns home from his island, the mementos of the global conflict have lost their meaning. They seem vaguely unreal, lifeless. In contrast, the photograph of his wife (Myrna Loy) that a hung-over March looks at the next morning – another sort of souvenir – has all the meaning in the world for him. And "Among My Souvenirs" – played on the piano by Hoagy Carmichael at the bar, hummed in the shower by a drunken March, and heard as background music -- unifies the whole sequence and endows it with the rich pathos that makes the song so durable a jazz standard. I recommend that you listen to Art Tatum play it on the piano or, if you can get your mitts on it, a recording of Sinatra and Crosby doing it as a duet on television in the 1950s.
from Boulevard (Spring 2010)