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This was written by Bob Thiele and George Weiss. Thiele was a producer for ABC records, and Weiss was a songwriter who helped create the hit version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight
." The song is about appreciating the beauty of our surroundings.
Armstrong recorded this for scale, accepting only $250 to make sure the orchestra got paid.
This is the song most associated with Louis Armstrong, but it does not represent the body of his work, which consists mostly of Jazz.
In 1988, this was re-released in the US after it was used in the Robin Williams movie Good Morning, Vietnam. It charted at #32. (thanks, Alan - S Brunswick, NJ)
The boss of ABC Records hated this and did not promote it until it became a hit in England.
This was the last song publicly performed by Eva Cassidy, who died of cancer about 6 weeks later in 1996. Cassidy became known after her death when a BBC radio DJ started playing songs from her album Songbird. The album gained popularity and went to #1 in the UK. She required medication to get on stage the last time. (thanks, Norm - Grand Forks, ND)
Joey Ramone covered this on his 2002 album, Don't Worry About Me, which was released almost a year after his death. Ramone occasionally played this live long before he recorded it. It expressed his optimistic view of the world, even as he was faced with death.
In Britain, this was the biggest-selling single of 1968. (thanks, Jerro - New Alexandria, PA)
For the 2002 album When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You'd Hear
, Country music star Roy Clark recorded this song. Cevin Soling, who was executive producer on the album, had The Oak Ridge Boys record "Carry On Wayward Son
" for the project, and their manager Jim Halsey suggested Clark. Says Soling: "Johnny Cash was going to be on the record. And I was supposed to go to Jamaica to work with him. And that was one of the sad phone calls that I got... he had borrowed Elizabeth Barrett Browning's house there and was building a studio, so I was waiting for construction of the studio. He was going to do the Zombies' 'Time Of The Season
,' and then shortly before I was supposed to go out there I got a call that he was too sick. Then I talked to Jim Halsey about it, and he goes, 'Well, if you're looking for that I can get Roy Clark.' So that was how the Roy Clark track came together. It was just thrown at me. Any track is so much work, it was nice to have something that just sort of fell in my lap. I mean, I was doing all the contract negotiations, I was doing the producing, the contracts, the arranging... everything. Soup to nuts was all me in making it happen. So for a track to fall in my lap was a godsend at that point." (Check out our interview with Cevin Soling
Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo'ole recorded this in a medley with "Over The Rainbow
" for his 1993 album Facing Forward
. This version was used in the films Finding Forrester
, Meet Joe Black
, and 50 First Dates
, as well as on the television show ER
. (thanks, Evan - Newport Beach, CA)
In 2007 a cover by Katie Meluia and Eva Cassidy was a #1 in the UK. It was an unusual duet with Meluia's vocals being spliced with those of the late Eva Cassidy. A charity single for the Red Cross, the single was only available in Tesco stores, so it was a surprise this version of "What A Wonderful World" outsold the competition in the singles chart.
With the success of this cover, Eva Cassidy became the 13th act to have a posthumous UK chart-topper. No other artist has had a larger gap between passing away and their debut posthumous UK #1, Cassidy having died on November 2, 1996, 11 years and one month ago before achieving peak position.
This was a #11 hit in the UK in 2001 when Cliff Richard released it in a medley with "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." Co-incidentally Eva Cassidy's biggest hit in the UK before this single had been her take on "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," which peaked at #42.
The 66-year-old Armstrong became the oldest act to top the UK charts when this reached #1. Four years previously Satchmo had become the oldest artist to record a US #1 when "Hello, Dolly!
" hit the top spot. Armstrong's record was broken in 2009 when the 68-years-and 9 months-old Tom Jones was one of the artists on the Comic Relief cover of "Islands in the Stream
His keyboard work helped define the Muscle Shoals sound and make him an integral part of many Neil Young recordings. Spooner is also an accomplished songwriter, whose hits include "I'm Your Puppet" and "Cry Like A Baby."
Van Dyke Parks
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Shaun Morgan of Seether
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