♫ Hello Dolly! ♫

There are nights, and then … there are n-i-g-h-t-s.  Tonight is a n-i-g-h-t.  They say that “Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak”, and there is, quite frankly, nobody that can soothe, soften and bend better than Louis Armstrong.  This one goes out tonight for Roger & Sheila … and their special Dolly!


According to SongFacts …

Hello, Dolly! is the title song from the Tony Award-winning 1964 musical which featured Carol Channing in the lead role. In 1969 it was made into a film starring Barbra Streisand. Although the contemporary score was composed in its entirety by Jerry Herman, the play can be traced in one form or another as far back as 1835, in outline at least. In spite of the immediate success of the stage production, the song was released as a single only reluctantly. In its May 23, 1964 edition, the English music paper Melody Maker carried an article “HELLO DOLLY! The hit no one wanted,” which included an interview with Louis Armstrong. Herein it was revealed that although the song had reached #1 in the US charts selling more than a million copies, no one wanted to record it. In retrospect, Satchmo was an obvious choice.

The song won a Grammy for best vocal performance. It was recorded on Kapp by Armstrong and his “All Stars”; the B Side was “A Lot Of Lovin’ To Do.” Five years later, Satchmo appeared in the film version where he dueted with Streisand.

The 62-year-old Armstrong became the oldest act to top the US charts when this reached #1. Four years later Satchmo also became the oldest artist to record a UK #1 when “What A Wonderful World” hit the top spot.  When Armstrong was asked about his new #1 song, he replied, “It sure feels good to be up there with those Beatles.”

There are many great singers who are not entertainers.  They are pure gold to listen to, but painfully boring to watch.  Louis Armstrong, in my book, is a both a singer/musician, and an entertainer.  He is at one with his audience.  He draws you in, he makes you smile, he makes your toes tap.

And now, let’s let Louis take our cares and our worries away for just a few minutes, shall we?

Hello Dolly!
Louis Daniel Armstrong

Hello, Dolly,
Well, hello, Dolly
It’s so nice to have you back where you belong
You’re lookin’ swell, Dolly
I can tell, Dolly
You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’
You’re still goin’ strong
We feel the room swayin’
While the band’s playin’
One of your old favourite songs from way back when

So, take her wrap, fellas
Find her an empty lap, fellas
Dolly’ll never go away again

Hello, Dolly,
Well, hello, Dolly
It’s so nice to have you back where you belong
You’re lookin’ swell, Dolly
I can tell, Dolly
You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’
You’re still goin’ strong
We feel the room swayin’
While the band’s playin’
One of your old favourite songs from way back when

Golly, gee, fellas
Find her a vacant knee, fellas
Dolly’ll never go away
Dolly’ll never go away
Dolly’ll never go away again

Songwriters: Jerry Herman

♫ Summertime ♫ (Redux)

It seems that I play this one once every summer!  It’s a sultry song that perfectly fits in with those dog days of summer.  Last year when I played it, our friend Clive said he preferred a version by an artist I never heard of before, Lana Del Rey.  Curious, I went for a listen and … it’s not bad, really.  However, my favourite will always remain the one by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong … they’ve just got it, in my book.  Anyway, since Clive likes the Del Rey version, I figured some of you might too, so this year I’m including both!  Thanks for the suggestion, Clive!


This song was recorded by more artists than I can count on all my fingers and toes, including Mahalia Jackson, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, Miles Davis, Ricky Nelson, John Coltrane, Julie London, Angelique Kidjo, and Frank Sinatra, to name just a few.

With at least 25,000 versions, Porgy and Bess’s opening aria, Summertime, is the most covered song in the world.

Written in 1934, Summertime was one of the first compositions George Gershwin worked on for his brand-new opera Porgy and Bess. The jazz-inspired song is a lullaby for Clara to sing to her child, and it is reprised several more times throughout the opera. The versatile hit went on to be covered by thousands of artists, in every genre from disco to reggae. Unfortunately, Gershwin wouldn’t live to see his song become the world-famous one it is today.

Up until the release of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s Jazz album, Porgy and Bess, Summertime was still relatively unknown.

Fitzgerald’s cover quickly propelled the song into the limelight, not only cementing it as a jazz staple, but also as globally recognisable hit. The opera was even turned into a film two years later (featuring Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge in the title roles), further propelling the song for greatness.

Summertime
Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong

Summertime and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Your daddy’s rich and your ma is good lookin’
So hush, little baby, baby, don’t you cry

One of these mornin’s, you’re gonna rise up singin’
Then you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that mornin’, there is nothin’ can harm you
With Daddy and Mummy, Mummy standing by
Don’t you cry…

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, don’t you cry

Oh don’t you cry
Oh don’t you cry
Don’t you cry
Oh don’t you cry

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Ira Gershwin / George Gershwin / Dubose Heyward

♫ What A Wonderful World ♫ (Redux)

I think right about now there are a lot of us who are feeling discouraged about many things, maybe even the future of life on planet Earth.  I know I’ve been in a royal funk for a couple of days now, unable to write or do much of anything, so I thought maybe it was time for a song with a genuinely upbeat spin, and who better to do that than the immortal Louis Armstrong?  I last played this one in June 2020 … just over 2 years ago.


I was probably around ten years old when I saw Louis Armstrong in person.  I remember being agog at how big he could make his cheeks when playing the trumpet!  I also fell in love with his gravelly voice and the look of kindness in his eyes.  Ever since, I have been a Louis Armstrong fan.

I just finished writing a post about the slaughter of beautiful animals, and was feeling the need for a song about appreciating the beauty around us.  This song is just that.

Although Louis Armstrong was mainly a jazz musician, this song is the one most often associated with him.  Though it was first released in 1967, it didn’t become a hit in the U.S. until 20 years later when it was used in the Robin Williams movie Good Morning, Vietnam.  However, it went to #1 in the UK.

The song was written by Bob Thiele (as “George Douglas”) and George David Weiss, both of whom were prominent in the music world (Thiele as a producer and Weiss as a composer/performer).  Armstrong’s recording was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

What a Wonderful World
Louis Daniel Armstrong

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world

Songwriters: George Weiss / Robert Thiele
What a Wonderful World lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Concord Music Publishing LLC, Carlin America Inc

♫ Summertime ♫

Well, here in the Northern Hemisphere, it has been summer for about ten days now, though frankly Mother Nature scoffs at human’s absurd insistence on schedules, calendars, clocks, etc., and follows her own agenda, often to the chagrin of humans who are tied to that artificial concept of time.  Our friends in Canada and the Pacific Northwest have been suffering truly unbearable ‘summertime’ this week and my heart goes out to them.  Our time, my friends, is coming … you can count on it.  Anyway, I thought a song to bring in the season would be apt, and there were several to choose from, but … nobody does it quite like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

This song was recorded by more artists than I can count on all my fingers and toes, including Mahalia Jackson, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, Miles Davis, Ricky Nelson, John Coltrane, Julie London, Angelique Kidjo, and Frank Sinatra, to name just a few.

With at least 25,000 versions, Porgy and Bess’s opening aria, Summertime, is the most covered song in the world.

Written in 1934, Summertime was one of the first compositions George Gershwin worked on for his brand-new opera Porgy and Bess. The jazz-inspired song is a lullaby for Clara to sing to her child, and it is reprised several more times throughout the opera. The versatile hit went on to be covered by thousands of artists, in every genre from disco to reggae. Unfortunately, Gershwin wouldn’t live to see his song become the world-famous one it is today.

Up until the release of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s Jazz album, Porgy and Bess, Summertime was still relatively unknown.

Fitzgerald’s cover quickly propelled the song into the limelight, not only cementing it as a jazz staple, but also as globally recognisable hit. The opera was even turned into a film two years later (featuring Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge in the title roles), further propelling the song for greatness.

Summertime
Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong

Summertime and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Your daddy’s rich and your ma is good lookin’
So hush, little baby, baby, don’t you cry

One of these mornin’s, you’re gonna rise up singin’
Then you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that mornin’, there is nothin’ can harm you
With Daddy and Mummy, Mummy standing by
Don’t you cry…

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Ira Gershwin / George Gershwin / Dubose Heyward

♫ Mack The Knife ♫

I’ve only played this once before, mid-2019, and it’s a song that deserves another run, plus I learned some things from readers last time ’round that I have added this time, such as two versions, one by Ella Fitzgerald and one by Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra!

Now, turns out this song has an origin that I was completely unaware of until I first researched it.  It was originally written in 1928 by German composers Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht for a play The Threepenny Opera.  I found out from Janet G (aka Tidalscribe) that Weill was later exiled from Germany and his music was labeled ‘degenerate’ by none other than Adolf Hitler!

My favourite version is Louis Armstrong’s that was released in 1956, perhaps only because I became a fan of Louis’ around the time I learned to walk, or perhaps because I am old and set in my ways … once somebody does a song, does it well, then why does every other Tom, Dick and Harry need to try to do it better?  However, for many, the Bobby Darin version is the only one worth hearing, so … I offer that one, too.  And then last time when I played it, Jack Collier said he preferred the Sinatra version, and Emily (aka Zombie Flamingos) mentioned that her fave was the Ella Fitzgerald one!  You can’t go wrong with any of those artists, so I’ll put all four here and you can listen to all, or pick a favourite!

Mack the Knife
Louis Armstrong … Bobby Darin

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe
And he keeps it, ah, out of sight
Ya know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves, oh, wears old MacHeath, babe
So there’s never, never a trace of red

Now on the sidewalk, huh, huh, whoo sunny morning, un huh
Lies a body just oozin’ life, eek
And someone’s sneakin’ ’round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?

There’s a tugboat, huh, huh, down by the river don’tcha know
Where a cement bag’s just a’drooppin’ on down
Oh, that cement is for, just for the weight, dear
Five’ll get ya ten old Macky’s back in town
Now d’ja hear ’bout Louie Miller? He disappeared, babe
After drawin’ out all his hard-earned cash
And now MacHeath spends just like a sailor
Could it be our boy’s done somethin’ rash?

Now Jenny Diver, ho, ho, yeah, Sukey Tawdry
Ooh, Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Oh, that line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky’s back in town

I said Jenny Diver, whoa, Sukey Tawdry
Look out to Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Yes, that line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky’s back in town
Look out, old Macky’s back

Songwriters: Kurt Weill / Bertolt Brecht / Marc Blitzstein
Mack the Knife lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

♫ Can’t Help Falling In Love ♫

Most of you know that I am not a huge Elvis fan … I always thought him to be a bit pompous, a bit too much of a showman.  That said, though I may not have cared for his public persona, he had a magnificent voice, and he did a handful of songs that I truly love … In the Ghetto is my #1 favourite, Suspicious Minds is another, and this one is somewhere in the lineup, maybe #3 or #4.

This was featured in the 1961 Elvis movie Blue Hawaii. It was written by the songwriter George Weiss, who claimed that neither the movie producers nor Elvis’ associates liked the song demo, but Elvis insisted on recording this song for the movie. Weiss, who died in 2010 at age 89, was a military bandleader in World War II.

This was Elvis’ most popular and famous “love song,” but it was not sung to his love interest in Blue Hawaii – It was sung to his grandmother on the occasion of her birthday. Elvis presented her with a music box, which she opened and it played the song, which Elvis then sang along with.

The melody is based on a French song called Plaisir D’Amour, which was penned in 1784 by a German with an Italian name, Jean-Paul Egide-Martini.  

Hal Blaine played drums on this. He became one of the most successful session drummers of all time, playing on hits by The Beach Boys, The Association, Sam Cooke, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, and many others. He entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.  George Weiss was a prolific songwriter in the ’40s, ’50s ’60s and ’70s. Among the string of hits he penned in addition to this song were What a Wonderful World (one of my all-time favourites!) recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1967, The Stylistics 1975 UK chart-topper Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love), and The Lion Sleeps Tonight, a reworking of a South African Zulu song recorded by The Tokens in 1961.

The song hit #1 in the UK, #2 in the U.S., and #4 in Canada, and charted in a number of other countries.

Can’t Help Falling in Love
Song by Elvis Presley

Wise men say
Only fools rush in
But I can’t help falling in love with you
Shall I stay?
Would it be a sin
If I can’t help falling in love with you?

Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be

Take my hand
Take my whole life too
For I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling, so it goes
Some things are meant to be

Take my hand
Take my whole life too
For I can’t help falling in love with you
For I can’t help falling in love with you

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: George David Weiss / Hugo E. Peretti / Luigi Creatore
Can’t Help Falling in Love lyrics © Raleigh Music Publishing

♫ Wonderful World ♫

When you hear the song title “Wonderful World”, you likely first think of the immortal Louis Armstrong … which I played twice last year and once already in June of this year.  I love Louis, love that song … but for tonight, I am playing a different song with a similar title … this one by Sam Cooke, another of my way-back-when favourites.

Wonderful World was originally written by music legends Lou Alder and Herb Alpert, but Cooke added the finishing lyrical touches, and the trio used the songwriting pseudonym “Barbara Campbell,” the name of Cooke’s high school sweetheart. Adler went on from this success to found Dunhill Records and manage big name artists such as Jan & Dean, The Mamas & The Papas, and Carole King. Not to be outdone, his writing partner, Herb Alpert, put the “A” in A&M Records after performing for several years with his band Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass.

Don’t let the bouncy rhythm and upbeat tempo fool you. According to Craig Werner, a professor of African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the song may have a more politically charged meaning. In his book, A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race and the Soul of America, Werner writes that “Wonderful World” may be one of the first examples of Cooke’s crossover into politics, where he informs white listeners that he “don’t know much about history” and “don’t know much biology” as a comment that these are the things to forget about African-Americans, and all they need to remember is love.

Throughout the years, “Wonderful World” has been covered by a number of artists including Otis Redding, Bryan Ferry, Michael Bolton, and Rod Stewart. After Sam Cooke’s death in 1964, there were a rash of “tribute” covers released including a 1965 up-tempo version by Herman’s Hermits, which reached #4 on the US Pop Singles chart and #7 on the UK Singles chart, and a rendition by The Supremes released on their 1965 album “We Remember Sam Cooke.” In 1977, Art Garfunkel put his spin on the hit for his album, Watermark, which featured harmonies by friend, James Taylor, and former partner, Paul Simon.

Wonderful World
Sam Cooke

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me, too
What a wonderful world this would be

Don’t know much about geography
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra
Don’t know what a slide rule is for

But I do know one and one is two
And if this one could be with you
What a wonderful world this would be

Now, I don’t claim to be an A student
But I’m trying to be
For maybe by being an A student, baby
I can win your love for me

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me, too
What a wonderful world this would be

Latatatatata ah
History (Mmmm)
Biology (Well a-tatatatata)
Science book (Mmmm)
French I took, yeah

But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me, too
What a wonderful world this would be

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: George David Weiss / Robert Thiele

♫ What A Wonderful World ♫ (Redux)

I was in the mood for a song with a positive spin tonight, and I came across this.  I played this before … March 2019 … but to me, it is worth hearing again.


I was probably around ten years old when I saw Louis Armstrong in person.  I remember being agog at how big he could make his cheeks when playing the trumpet!  I also fell in love with his gravelly voice and the look of kindness in his eyes.  Ever since, I have been a Louis Armstrong fan.

I just finished writing a post about the slaughter of beautiful animals, and was feeling the need for a song about appreciating the beauty around us.  This song is just that.

Although Louis Armstrong was mainly a jazz musician, this song is the one most often associated with him.  Though it was first released in 1967, it didn’t become a hit in the U.S. until 20 years later when it was used in the Robin Williams movie Good Morning, Vietnam.  However, it went to #1 in the UK.

The song was written by Bob Thiele (as “George Douglas”) and George David Weiss, both of whom were prominent in the music world (Thiele as a producer and Weiss as a composer/performer).  Armstrong’s recording was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

What a Wonderful World
Louis Daniel Armstrong

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world

Songwriters: George Weiss / Robert Thiele
What a Wonderful World lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Concord Music Publishing LLC, Carlin America Inc

♫ Summertime ♫

Yesterday marked the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere.  I don’t know about where you live, but here it definitely felt like summer, with temperatures in the low 90s and high humidity.  After a brief (3 minute) foray out in the morning to water the flowers, I decided to spend the rest of the day inside in breathable comfort!  Anyway, I thought a song to bring in the season would be apt, and there were several to choose from, but … nobody does it quite like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

This song was recorded by more artists than I can count on all my fingers and toes, including Mahalia Jackson, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, Mahalia Jackson, Miles Davis, Ricky Nelson, John Coltrane, Julie London, Angelique Kidjo, and Frank Sinatra, to name just a few.

With at least 25,000 versions, Porgy and Bess’s opening aria, Summertime, is the most covered song in the world.

Written in 1934, Summertime was one of the first compositions George Gershwin worked on for his brand-new opera Porgy and Bess. The jazz-inspired song is a lullaby for Clara to sing to her child, and it is reprised several more times throughout the opera. The versatile hit went on to be covered by thousands of artists, in every genre from disco to reggae. Unfortunately, Gershwin wouldn’t live to see his song become the world-famous one it is today.

Up until the release of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s Jazz album, Porgy and Bess, Summertime was still relatively unknown.

Fitzgerald’s cover quickly propelled the song into the limelight, not only cementing it as a jazz staple, but also as globally recognisable hit. The opera was even turned into a film two years later (featuring Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge in the title roles), further propelling the song for greatness.

Summertime
Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong

Summertime and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Your daddy’s rich and your ma is good lookin’
So hush, little baby, baby, don’t you cry

One of these mornin’s, you’re gonna rise up singin’
Then you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that mornin’, there is nothin’ can harm you
With Daddy and Mummy, Mummy standing by
Don’t you cry…

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Ira Gershwin / George Gershwin / Dubose Heyward

♫ Hello Dolly! ♫

There are nights, and then … there are n-i-g-h-t-s.  Tonight is a n-i-g-h-t.  They say that “Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak”, and there is, quite frankly, nobody that can soothe, soften and bend better than Louis Armstrong.  I have played his Wonderful World at least twice here, and am almost certain to do so again, but tonight, I picked another one he does like nobody else could, Hello Dolly!

According to SongFacts …

Hello, Dolly! is the title song from the Tony Award-winning 1964 musical which featured Carol Channing in the lead role. In 1969 it was made into a film starring Barbra Streisand. Although the contemporary score was composed in its entirety by Jerry Herman, the play can be traced in one form or another as far back as 1835, in outline at least. In spite of the immediate success of the stage production, the song was released as a single only reluctantly. In its May 23, 1964 edition, the English music paper Melody Maker carried an article “HELLO DOLLY! The hit no one wanted,” which included an interview with Louis Armstrong. Herein it was revealed that although the song had reached #1 in the US charts selling more than a million copies, no one wanted to record it. In retrospect, Satchmo was an obvious choice.

The song won a Grammy for best vocal performance. It was recorded on Kapp by Armstrong and his “All Stars”; the B Side was “A Lot Of Lovin’ To Do.” Five years later, Satchmo appeared in the film version where he dueted with Streisand.

The 62-year-old Armstrong became the oldest act to top the US charts when this reached #1. Four years later Satchmo also became the oldest artist to record a UK #1 when “What A Wonderful World” hit the top spot.  When Armstrong was asked about his new #1 song, he replied, “It sure feels good to be up there with those Beatles.”

There are many great singers who are not entertainers.  They are pure gold to listen to, but painfully boring to watch.  Louis Armstrong, in my book, is a both a singer/musician, and an entertainer.  He is at one with his audience.  He draws you in, he makes you smile, he makes your toes tap.

And now, let’s let Louis take our cares and our worries away for just a few minutes, shall we?

Hello Dolly!
Louis Daniel Armstrong

Hello, Dolly,
Well, hello, Dolly
It’s so nice to have you back where you belong
You’re lookin’ swell, Dolly
I can tell, Dolly
You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’
You’re still goin’ strong
We feel the room swayin’
While the band’s playin’
One of your old favourite songs from way back when

So, take her wrap, fellas
Find her an empty lap, fellas
Dolly’ll never go away again

Hello, Dolly,
Well, hello, Dolly
It’s so nice to have you back where you belong
You’re lookin’ swell, Dolly
I can tell, Dolly
You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’
You’re still goin’ strong
We feel the room swayin’
While the band’s playin’
One of your old favourite songs from way back when

Golly, gee, fellas
Find her a vacant knee, fellas
Dolly’ll never go away
Dolly’ll never go away
Dolly’ll never go away again

Songwriters: Jerry Herman