Written by Charles Chaplin and first performed (as an instrumental) in Modern Times (1936).
Hit versions by Nat “King” Cole (US #10/UK #2 1954), Sunny Gale (US #19 1954).
Also recorded by Michael Jackson (1995).
From the wiki: “‘Smile’ was first performed untitled in Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 part-talkie motion picture Modern Times as film’s ‘romance theme’. Chaplin, the composer, says he found inspiration for the song in Puccini’s ‘Tosca’. The composition was arranged for the movie by Edward Powell & David Raskin with the soundtrack orchestra conducted by Alfred Newman (one of Randy Newman’s uncles).
“John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons later added the lyrics and the ‘Smile’ title in 1954. The lyrics were based on lines and themes from the motion picture, telling the listener to cheer up and that there is always a bright tomorrow, ‘just as long as you smile.’
First recorded by The King Cole Trio (1946, released 1989).
Other popular versions by The King Cole Trio (US #/R&B #3 1946), Bing Crosby (1947), Mel Tormé (1955 et al.), Stevie Wonder (1967), The Carpenters (1978), Christina Aguilera (US #18 1999), Michael Bublé (MOR #6 2003).
From the wiki: “‘The Christmas Song’ is sometimes known as ‘Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire’ and was co-written by Mel Tormé (with Robert Wells) in the summer of 1944 when Tormé was 19.
“According to Tormé, the song was written in July (1944) during a blistering hot summer. In an effort to ‘stay cool by thinking cool,’ the most-performed Christmas song was born. ‘I saw a spiral pad on his (Wells’s) piano with four lines written in pencil’, Tormé recalled. ‘They started, ‘Chestnuts roasting… Jack Frost nipping… Yuletide carols… Folks dressed up like Eskimos.’ Bob didn’t think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics.’
“The first recording and the original arrangement of the song was recorded in June 1946 by the The King Cole Trio – without strings, because Capitol Records didn’t want to risk losing Cole’s core R&B audience with orchestration. But Cole insisted, so strings were scored for a session two months later, in August 1946, This was the recording released in November 1946 with great success, peaking at #3 on both the Hit Parade and R&B music charts. (The original non-string arrangement was not issued until 1989, when it was accidentally included on the various-artists compilation Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits (1935–1954).)
First recorded (as “Sentimental Reasons”) by Deek Watson & His Brown Dots (1945).
Hit versions by The King Cole Trio (US #1 1946), Eddy Howard & His Orchestra (US #6 1947), Dinah Shore (US #6 1947), Ella Fitzgerald & Delta Rhythm Boys (US #8 1947), Sam Cooke (US #17/R&B #5 1957), James Brown (R&B #70 1976).
Also recorded by James Brown (1969), Linda Ronstadt (1986), Rod Stewart (2004).
From the wiki: “‘(I Love You) for Sentimental Reasons’ was written in 1945 by Ivory ‘Deek’ Watson, founding member of the Ink Spots, and William ‘Pat’ Best, founding member of the Four Tunes. The song was first recorded by The Brown Dots, a group Watson had first formed as the ‘New Ink Spots’ after he left the original group in a dispute. The original Ink Spots then filed a lawsuit to force Watson from using its name, resulting in Watson changing his ‘Ink Spots’ name, just barely, to ‘The Brown Dots’.
“The Brown Dots’ original recording of ‘Sentimental Reasons’ was first recorded and released in 1945 as the B-side of their second single, ‘Let’s Give Love Another Chance’. In 1946, it was released again – as an A-side – but it did not chart nationally.
First released by The Charleston Chasers (1929).
Hit versions by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra (US #2 1929), Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five (US #7 1929), Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (US #8 1929), Fats Waller (US #17 1929 |1943), The Teddy Wilson Quartet (US #6 1937), Dinah Washington (R&B #6 1948), Johnnie Ray (UK #17 1956), Tommy Bruce & the Bruisers (UK #3 1960), Hank Williams, Jr. (C&W #1 1986).
Also recorded by King Cole Trio & Anita O’Day (1945), Bill Haley & His Comets (1957), Sam Cooke (1958), Leon Redbone (1975).
From the wiki: “With lyrics by Andy Razaf and score by Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller and Harry Brooks, ‘An’t Misbehavin” was created specifically as a theme song for the Razaf/Waller/Brooks Broadway musical comedy Connie’s Hot Chocolates. In a 1941 interview with Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson, of The Jack Benny Show fame, Fats said the song was written while ‘lodging’ in alimony prison, and that is why he was not ‘misbehavin’.’
“The song was first performed at the premiere of Connie’s Hot Chocolates at Connie’s Inn in Harlem as an opening number by Margaret Simms and Paul Bass, and repeated later in the musical by Russell Wooding’s Hallelujah Singers. Connie’s Hot Chocolates transferred to the Hudson Theatre on Broadway in June 1929, where it was renamed to Hot Chocolates and where Louis Armstrong took over as orchestra director. The script also required Armstrong to play ‘Ain’t Misbehavin” in a trumpet solo, and although this was initially slated to only be a reprise of the opening song, Armstrong’s performance was so well received that the trumpeter was asked to climb out of the orchestra pit and play the piece on stage.
Written and first recorded by Chuck Berry (B-side 1956).
Hit album version by Santana (1983).
From the wiki: “‘Havana Moon’ was written and first recorded by Chuck Berry in 1956, and released as the B-side to the single ‘You Can’t Catch Me‘. Berry has described Nat ‘King’ Cole as his favorite ballad singer — Berry admired Cole’s perfect diction and elegant delivery. According to Rolling Stone magazine:
Berry’s story of a Cuban woman missing an American woman took its inspiration from playing Nat King Cole’s ‘Calypso Blues’ when Berry was still slugging it out at St. Louis’ Cosmopolitan Club at a time when Latin rhythms were popular. Berry had always admired Cole’s ‘perfect diction’ and delivery (‘He was better than ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ [Frank Sinatra],’ Berry had opined more than once), and decided to write his own song along the same lines after a gigging in New York City [in the mid-1950s], where he had met Cubans for the first time. ‘It is the differences in people that I think gives me a tremendous imagination to create a story for developing a lyric,’ he wrote in his autobiography. ‘I had read, seen or heard in some respect all the situations in the Havana story. Certainly, missing the boat and surely missing the girl had been experienced many times by me.’
First performed and recorded by David Brooks & Marion Bell (1947).
Hit versions by Mildred Bailey (US #21 1947), Mary Martin (US #21 1947), Frank Sinatra (US #20 1947), Gene Kelly, (1954), Michael Johnson (US #32/MOR #4 1978).
Also recorded by Lester Young (1952), Nat “King” Cole (1953), Frank Sinatra (1961), Shirley Bassey (1979).
From the wiki: “‘Almost Like Being in Love’ was written by the songwriting team of Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner in 1947, for the musical Brigadoon. The song was first performed on Broadway and recorded by David Brooks and Marion Bell from the original cast. It would later be performed by Gene Kelly in the 1954 film version of Brigadoon.
“Mildred Bailey first charted ‘Almost Like Being in Love’ in 1947, along with an equally-popular cover by Mary Martin. Frank Sinatra recorded two popular versions: first in 1947 and, again, in 1961 for the album Come Swing With Me, the version generally heard today. Lester Young’s instrumental cover was released in 1952; Nat ‘King’ Cole recorded his version in 1953, a recording used years later, in 1993, for the soundtrack of Groundhog Day.
“‘Almost Like Being in Love’ was revived, as a downbeat ballad, in 1978 by singer Michael Johnson. British singing sensation Shirley Bassey covered Johnson’s arrangement in 1979.”
Early recording by Edward M. Favor (1894).
Other popular recordings by Dinah Shore (1942), Charlie & His Orchestra (1942), Nat “King” Cole (1963).
Also recorded by IBM 1094 (1961), “HAL 9000” (1968), Katy Perry (2014).
From the wiki: “‘Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)’ was written in 1892 by Harry Dacre. The song is said to have been inspired by Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick, one of the many mistresses of King Edward VII (1841-1910). The song was first recorded and released by Dan W. Quinn in 1893. Edward M. Favor recorded a version in 1894 that still exists.
“In 1942, when Dinah Shore appeared on Eddie Cantor’s popular radio show, she performed a clever arrangement of the song. The Nazi-sponsored German propaganda swing band, Charlie & His Orchestra, also released a cover of the song in 1942, aimed at listeners in the UK and the US. Nat King Cole recorded a cover for his popular 1963 album Those Lazy-Crazy-Hazy Days of Summer.
Co-written and first recorded by Bert Kaempfert (1964).
Hit version by Nat “King” Cole (B-side US #89/MOR #17 1965).
From the wiki: “‘L-O-V-E’ was composed by Bert Kaempfert, and was first recorded as an instrumental track on Kaempfert’s album Blue Midnight (1964).
“Nat ‘King’ Cole followed in 1965 with his vocal recording for his album of the same name (1965), with lyrics by Milt Gabler. The trumpet solo on the Cole recording was performed by Bobby Bryant. Released as the B-side to ‘I Don’t Want to See Tomorrow’, ‘L-O-V-E’ peaked at #89 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #17 on the Easy Listening chart.
First recorded (as “One Horse Open Sleigh” in the medley “Sleigh Ride Party”) by The Edison Male Quartette (1898).
Popular versions by The King Cole Trio (1938), Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (US #5 1941), Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters (1943), Primo Scala & the Keynotes (US #10 1948), Les Paul (US #10 1951), The Hysterics (UK #44 1981).
From the wiki: “James Lord Pierpont’s 1857 composition ‘Jingle Bells’ became one of the most performed and most recognizable secular holiday songs ever written, not only in the United States, but around the world. In recognition of this achievement, James Lord Pierpont was voted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
“Pierpont wrote it in the 1850s in Medford, Massachusetts as ‘The One-horse Open Sleigh’ for the choir of the First Unitarian Church, where his father was pastor. The choir introduced the new song during a Thanksgiving Day service; there was not a single reference to Christmas in the original lyrics. But, due to the public’s enthusiasm, the performance was renewed during that same year’s Christmas celebration.
“In 1857 the song was copyrighted as ‘The One Horse Open Sleigh’. Two years later it was first published as ‘Jingle Bells’ in Savannah, GA, where Pierpont’s brother, John, was pastor. His Unitarian Universalist Church became, and still is, locally known as ‘The Jingle Bells Church’.
First recorded by The Royal Military Band (1904).
Also recorded by The Edison Carol Singers (1905).
Popular versions by Bing Crosby (1942), Nat “King” Cole (1960), Mannheim Steamroller (1984), Garth Brooks (C&W #69 2000), MercyMe (MOR #34 2006), Barenaked Ladies & Sarah McLachlan (2010).
From the wiki: “‘God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen’, also known as ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’, and ‘God Rest You Merry People All’, is an English traditional Christmas carol. It was published by William B. Sandys in 1833, although the author is unknown. Like so many early Christmas songs, the carol was written as a direct reaction to the church music of the 15th century. However, in the earliest known publication of the carol, on a c. 1760 broadsheet, it is described as a ‘new Christmas carol’, suggesting its origin is actually in the mid-18th century.
“‘God Rest Yet Merry, Gentlemen’ is referred to in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: ‘…at the first sound of ‘God bless you, merry gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!’, Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.'”
First recorded by Gene Autry & The Cass County Boys (US #7/C&W #4 1950).
Other hit versions by Nat “King” Cole (US #9 1950), Jan & Dean (US #11 1963), The Beach Boys (1964), Jimmy Durante (1969).
From the wiki: “‘Frosty the Snowman’ (originally titled ‘Frosty the Snow Man’) is a popular song written by Walter ‘Jack’ Rollins and Steve Nelson, and was first recorded by Gene Autry & The Cass County Boys in 1950. Rollins and Nelson wrote ‘Frosty’ after the success of Autry’s recording of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ the previous year; Rollins and Nelson shipped the new song to Autry, who recorded ‘Frosty’ in search of another seasonal hit.
Co-written and first recorded (as an instrumental) by Hoagy Carmichael (1927).
Hit versions by Irving Mills & His Hotsy Totsy Gang (US #20 1929), Isham Jones & His Orchestra (US #1 1930), Bing Crosby (US #5 1931), Louis Armstrong (US #16 1931), Frank Sinatra with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (US #7 1941), Nat “King” Cole (US #79/UK #24 1957), Billy Ward & His Dominoes (US #12/R&B #5/UK #13 1957), Nino Tempo & April Stevens (US #32 1964).
Also recorded by Jon Hendricks (1990).
From the JazzStandards.com: “On October 31, 1927, Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals recorded ‘Stardust’ at the Gennett Records studio in Richmond, Indiana. Hoagy’s ‘pals,’ Emil Seidel and His Orchestra, agreed to record the medium-tempo instrumental in between their Sunday evening and Monday matinee performances in Indianapolis, seventy miles away. In 1928 Carmichael again recorded ‘Stardust,’ this time with lyrics he had written, but Gennett rejected it because the instrumental had sold so poorly. The following year, at Mills Music, Mitchell Parish was asked to set lyrics to coworker Carmichael’s song. The result was the 1929 publication date of ‘Star Dust’ with the music and lyrics we know today.
“According to the Carmichael, inspiration for the song struck while visiting his old university campus. Sitting on a wall reminiscing about the town, his college days, and past romances, he looked up at the starlit sky and whistled ‘Star Dust’. Richard Sudhalter’s biography ( Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael) contends that the melody may have begun with fragments, evolving over months and maybe years, but Carmichael preferred to perpetuate a myth that sweet songs are conceived in romantic settings.
First recorded (as “Dawes Melody in A Major”) by Fritz Kreisler & Charles Lamson (1921).
Also recorded (as “Melody”) by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra (1942).
First recorded (as “It’s All in the Game”) by Tommy Edwards (US #18/R&B #1 1951).
Also recorded by Louis Armstrong (1953), Nat “King” Cole (1956).
Other hit versions by Tommy Edwards (re-recording US #1/UK #1 1958), Cliff Richard (US #25/UK #2 1963), The Four Tops (US #24/R&B #6/UK #5 1970).
From the wiki: “‘It’s All in the Game’ is the only #1 hit ever written by a future US Vice-President. The melody, titled ‘Dawes Melody in A Major’, was first composed in 1911 by then-banker Charles Gates Dawes, who would become VP in 1925 under Calvin Coolidge. The song garnered some popularity in the 1920s when concert violinist Jascha Heifetz used it for a time as a ‘light concert’ encore.
“Lyrics were added in 1951 by the Brill Building songwriter Carl Sigman, who also changed the song’s name to ‘It’s All in the Game’ from its original. Sadly, Dawes would not live to hear lyrics put to his song. He passed away the same day Sigman completed his assignment.
First recorded by Dick Haymes (1945).
Also recorded by Nat King Cole (1958), Bobby Darin (1961), Doris Day (1965).
Hit version by Chris Montez (US #16/MOR #2/UK #3 1966).
From the wiki: “‘The More I See You’ was originally recorded by Dick Haymes in 1945, and sung by Haymes in the film Diamond Horseshoe (1945). Other early recordings were made by Nat King Cole, Bobby Darin and Doris Day before the song hit the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966.
“Chris Montez grew up in California, influenced by the success of Ritchie Valens. In 1962, Montez recorded the single ‘Let’s Dance’, a #4 Billboard Hot 100 hit in the US. With the advent of Beatlemania, Montez searched for the same rock and roll formula that would replicate the success of ‘Let’s Dance’. Instead, during a 1965 recording session, A&M Records label co-founder Herb Alpert (who would also go on to arrange and co-produce Montez’s 1966 album, The More I See You) suggested that Montez try a different approach: a middle-of-the-road, soft ballad sound.
First recorded by The Victor Young Orchestra w. Jeri Southern (1952).
Hit versions by Doris Day (US #20 1952), Nat “King” Cole (UK #2 1957), Natalie Cole (US #6/R&B #31 1987), Rick Astley (UK #2 1987), Celine Dion & Clive Griffin (US #23/MOR #6 1993).
From the wiki: “Jeri Southern released the original version in April 1952 with the song’s composer, Victor Young, handling the arranging and conducting duties. The song has become a standard, with many artists recording it, though the first hit version was by Doris Day released in July 1952.”
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