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Hoagy Carmichael & His Orchestra

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

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. (thanks, Jack C - Auckland, New Zealand)
Hoagy Carmichael & His Orchestra
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Comments (7):

On June 11th 1957, "Stardust" by Billy Ward and his Dominoes entered Billboard's Top 100 chart; eventually it peaked at #12 and spent almost a half-year on the chart (24 weeks)...
It reached #5 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart and #13 in the United Kingdom...
The year before in 1956 the group peaked at #13 with "St. Therese of the Roses", with the great Jackie Wilson singing lead...
R.I.P. Mr. Ward, born Robert L. Williams, 1921 - 2002 and Mr. Wilson, born Jack Leroy Wilson, Jr. 1934 - 1984.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
As I've grown up (57), I've started to reject the music of my youth and prize old standards. Yes, music my parents would have liked. This is clearly the best rendition of the best song ever. Instrumentals, voice, etc. I love the first two verses and the song is damaged without them.
This song has even been in my dreams! Can't say that about any other song.
- brian, desmoines, IA
"Stardust" is the most often recorded piece of music written by an American composer, having been recorded by over 1,600 bands, orchestras, singers ... probably even zither-ists, I guess.
( Source: Smithsonian Institution [except for the comment about the "zither" )
- Christopher, Desert Center, CA
Most people, including Ringo, record the song without the first two introductory verses, which are sung to a different melody.
- Guy, Woodinville, WA
I'm gonna get laughed at, but I like Ringo Starr's take, on his first post-Beatles album, Sentimental Journey. It was basically my introduction to the song, so it has stuck with me. The entire album of old standards, earnestly recorded, is great! He went to his family members and asked them what their old favorites were.
- Guy, Woodinville, WA
The most beautiful treatment of this song I ever heard was by Stephane Grappelli/Django Reinhardt/Le Hot Club de France. It's upbeat but played very delicately, and the players pass the melody around. Not sure what year they recorded it, but I have it on an anthology album that covers late '30s to early '40s.
- dave, dublin,
I love this song sung by Billy Ward & His
Dominoes, with Eugene Mumford singing lead.
- Frank, Valley Stream, NY
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