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Album: Stardust, And Much MoreReleased: 1927Charted:
The composer/bandleader Hoagy Carmichael wrote this after giving up his law career in 1927 and first recorded it that year with his orchestra as a Jazz number. According to legend, Carmichael came up with the song when he went for a walk under the stars and started thinking about former girlfriends.
Carmichael's instrumental version did pretty well, and two years later, Mitchell Parish added lyrics and Carmichael reworked the song as a slow ballad. The bandleader/saxophonist Isham Jones recorded this new arrangement, which became the first of many hit records of the tune. The song became a Big Band standard, with just about every prominent bandleader and singer of the '30s and '40s performing it, making it one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century.
Originally published with a 2-word title ("Star Dust"), this classic song incorporates a timeless theme: the solace of dreams when overwhelmed by heartbreak. If you can't be with your love, at least you can dream about her.
Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby both released renditions of this song in 1931. Once the Swing era took hold, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey all recorded the song. In 1940, Dorsey recorded a new version with the vocal group The Pied Pipers, which featured a young Frank Sinatra.
Billy Ward and the Dominoes took the song to #12 US in 1957, and that same year Nat King Cole's version hit #79 US and #24 UK. Cole's version proved most enduring and was revived when it was featured in the 1993 movie Sleepless In Seattle. Other charting versions of the song in the US were recorded by Frank Sinatra as a solo artist (#98, 1962) and Nino Tempo & April Stevens (#32, 1964).
In 1978, Willie Nelson released a Country version, using it as the title track to his album.
Bette Midler considers this her favorite song, with the lyrics, "And now the purple dusk of twilight time steals across the meadows of my heart" her favorite words.
Paul McCartney is also a big fan: he said in his Club Sandwich newsletter that it is the song he most wished he had written.
Ringo Starr's first post-Beatles album, Sentimental Journey, is a collection of standards that includes this song (arranged by Paul McCartney).