Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)

Album: Que Sera, Sera (1956)
Charted: 1 2
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Songfacts®:

  • Running just 2:01, this song points out, quite effectively, how we can't predict the future. The first of the three verses finds Doris Day asking her mother if she'll grow up to be pretty and rich. Instead of the stock parental reply of "you can be anything you want to be," her mother comes back with something much more profound: whatever will be, will be.

    In the next verse, she asks the man she loves if they will live a happy life together, and he gives her the same answer. In the last verse, she has kids of her own and imparts this same wisdom.
  • This was written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, who wrote many songs for movies when they were under contract with Paramount Pictures. Doris Day sang it in Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 remake of his 1934 film The Man Who Knew Too Much. In the film, she was putting her young son to bed. Livingston told Paul Zollo in 1987: "We got a call from Alfred Hitchcock. And he told us that he had Doris Day in his picture, whom he didn't want. But MCA, the agency, was so powerful that they said if he wanted Jimmy Stewart he would also have to take Doris Day and Livingston and Evans. It was the only time an agent got us a job that I can remember. Hitchcock said that since Doris Day was a singer, they needed a song for her. He said, 'I can tell you what it should be about. She sings it to a boy. It should have a foreign title because Jimmy Stewart is a roving ambassador and he goes all over the world." (this appears in Zollo's book Songwriters On Songwriting)
  • The phrase "Que Sera, Sera" came from a 1954 movie called The Barefoot Contessa, where the family motto of the character played by Rossano Brazzi is "Che Sera, Sera." The motto in the film is Italian, but Evans and Livingston switched the "Che" to "Que" because more people spoke Spanish in the US.
  • This became Doris Day's biggest hit and her signature song, but she didn't want to record it because she thought of it as a children's song. Livingston explained in Zollo's interview: "She didn't want to record it but the studio pressured her. She did it in one take and said, 'That's the last you're going to hear of this song.'"
  • This song has been reworked and updated by various artists over the years. A group called The High Keyes did a rock version from a male perspective that reached #47 US in 1963. Mary Hopkin did a jaunty rendition that went to #77 in 1970.

    One of the most intriguing covers came in 1973 when Sly & the Family Stone did a slow, mellow version running 5:23. Sly Stone and Doris Day reportedly crossed paths at the mansion of music producer Terry Melcher, Day's son, and Sly played her "Que Sera, Sera" on the piano. The story of their meeting got out in the press, and when Sly & the Family Stone covered the song, rumors - likely fueled by the record company looking to goose sales - kicked in that they were having an affair.

    The song has also been recorded in different languages, including Polish (by Renata Bogdanska), Mandarin (by Grace Chang) and Italian (by Ricchi e Poveri).
  • Ray Evans and Jay Livingston also wrote the theme song to the TV show Mr. Ed, which is about a talking horse (Livingston sang on that one). Some of their other compositions include "Mona Lisa" and the Christmas classic "Silver Bells."
  • This song won the 1956 Oscar for Best Song. In addition, Doris Day's character sang it to herself in a scene from the 1960 film Please Don't Eat the Daisies, and the song later became the theme song for her sitcom The Doris Day Show, which ran from 1968-73. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jerro - New Alexandria, PA
  • Two different versions of "Que Sera, Sera" are used in the 1989 movie Heathers. It opens with a version by the female singer Syd Straw, and closes with Sly And The Family Stone's rendition. Other movies to use the song include:

    Seven Pounds (2008)
    Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
    28 Days Later... (2002)
    Nurse Betty (2000)
    Girl, Interrupted (1999)
    Why Do Fools Fall in Love (1998)
    Private Parts (1997)
    Ed Wood (1994)
    Waiting (1991)
    Back To The Beach (1987)
    Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960)

    And in these TV shows:

    Scream Queens ("Chainsaw" - 2015)
    Scandal ("Honor Thy Father" - 2015)
    Sabrina the Teenage Witch ("Sabrina the Matchmaker" - 1999)
    Ally McBeal ("Happy Birthday, Baby" - 1998)
    Happy Days ("In the Name of Love" - 1974)

Comments: 28

  • Julius Benjamin from Nigeriaohh I remember when I was still Young my mom play this for us everyday I really love this song
  • Cindy Rose from Hackensack, NjDoris Day also sang part of the song "Que Sera, Sera" in the 1966 movie "The Glass Bottom Boat".
  • Melograce from Lagos Nigeriawhen i was in school back then i so much love the song we use it lyrice for drama play and now i ve a daughter named sarah
  • Midori from TnPart of the song was also sung by Ms Day in “Glass Bottom Boat”
  • Mm from Lexington, KyThe second verse in the 1956 movie version of The Man Who Knew Too Much [sung 3x’s - once in the hotel and 2x’s in the embassy], which I would like remembered too.

    When I was just a child in school
    I asked my teacher
    What should I try
    Should I paint pictures
    Should I sing songs
    This was her wise reply
  • Jay Jay from Carina BrisbaneThat was so magnificent to hear such a bfull voice. Thank you.
  • Jose Joaquim Rodrigues from Brasil, Uberlandia ,minas Gerais.Forever Doris Days' fan, I was wondering the reason of the word Que será in this song, because it is also this way in portuguese, what was well explained in this article. Thank you.
  • Matt from Erie, PaBarry forgot to mention that Doris Day is also mentioned--along with many others!--in the 1974 record, "Life Is a Rock," by Reunion. Right before Jack the Ripper...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyDoris Day, born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, passed away at the age of 97 on May 13th, 2019 in Carmel Valley, California...
    She had five #1 records; "Sentimental Journey", with Les Brown, {for 9 weeks in 1945}, "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time", with Les Brown, {for 7 weeks in 1945}, "Love Somebody", with Buddy Clark, {for 5 weeks in 1948}, "A Guy Is A Guy" {for 1 week in 1952}, and "Secret Love" {for 4 weeks in 1954}...
    And just missed having three more #1 records when her "It's Magic" {1948}, "Again" {1949}, and "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)"* {1956} all peaked at position #2...
    Ms. Day was referred to in two #1 records on Billboard's Top 100 chart, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham! {1984} and "We Didn't Start The Fire " by Billy Joel {1989}...
    And her name was also mentioned in four uncharted records, "La De Da" by Ringo Starr {1999}, 'Dig It" by the Beatles {1970}, "Dirty Epic" by Underworld {1994}, and "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee" from the musical 'Grease' {1978}...
    May she R.I.P.
    * "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" peaked at #2 {for 3 weeks} in August of 1956, and for the three weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for those 3 weeks was "My Prayer" by the Platters...
    And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, the first week it was at #2, it was tied at that position with "Allegheny Moon" by Patti Page..
  • Adrian Chan from MalaysiaShe (Doris) indeed owe her longevity to this song. Leave the future alone, after all we do not know what will happen next...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 1st 1956, Doris Day signed a five-year one million dollar recording contract with Columbia Records...
    And six days later on June 7th, 1956 "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" entered Billboard's Hot 100 chart at position #78*; ten weeks later on August 9th, 1956 it would peak at #2* {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 27 weeks, for fifteen of those weeks it was on the Top 10...
    Ms. Day, born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, celebrated her 93rd birthday two months ago on April 3rd {2015}...
    * According to Billboard the week it entered the Top 100 at #78 it was actually tied with Gale Storm's covered version of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" and for the two weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "My Prayer" by the Platters.
  • Gary from Tucson, AzShe also sang a bit of this song with Arthur Godrey in "The Glass Bottom Boat."
  • Dean from Hoover, AlOne of my favorite songs!
  • Robert from Maple, On@ Cyberpope, what you stated about the movie motto is correct, however the true Italian translation for : whatever will be, will be is Che sara, sara
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyDoris Day had a big hit in 1953 with "Secret Love"; it also won an Academy Award for Best Song!!!
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaLivingston and Evans can be seen performing at a party(at the piano) in the movie "Sunset Blvd"(1950)Paramount.
    They even get billing with the other actors on the Main Title!
  • Cloud from Taipei, Taiwanwhen i was teenage i have been listened it

    it's full lyrical i think i never forget it
    after many years
    I became to adult and went through much change in life I reminded og the song
    what will be

    sometime my daughters asked me
    What will I be
    oh my dear baby
    yes The future's not ours to see
    what will be
    you just remember you are my daughters

    cloud
  • Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaFunny; the original, Italian, title lyric meant "What an evening!"; in Spanish it doesn't all translate. . .

    Nice song, though & you understand the story (mom telling child not to sweat the future; just let watever happens, happen)
  • Manda from Oc, CaSo, tell me why iTunes has a 'clean' and 'explicit' version of this song?
  • Chris from Ozona, United StatesI heard an 80 year old man playing this the other day on a broken down piano in a thrift shop. I think it was the most beautiful music I have heard in a long while. A hauntingly beautiful c-major waltz! I also snagged an amazing album by Doris Day called "Day by Day" on an earlier visit.
  • Ethan from HelsinkiThis song was also played by Pink Martini, whose version was in an episode of Dead Like Me.
  • Hannah from Madison, WiI don't think the ending of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" is idiotic at all. I think it is touching and an ingenious plot element. Just because you can't direct a film like Mr. Hitchcock doesn't mean you should criticize him. Go back to the hole in Virginia that you crawled out of.
  • Robert from Nyc, NyThis song was written by Bernard Herrmann who scored the movie. Ray and Jay did the lyrics. I know Benny Herrmann was my uncle.
  • James from Brisbane, AustraliaLong before Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, in 1588 Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) in his play 'Doctor Faustus' wrote "Che sera, sera, What will be, shall be". Perhaps Messrs Evans and Livingston just happened to be thumbing through the old English classics and thought this was the cue for a song.
  • Don from Newmarket, CanadaSung in the Simpson's episode when a comet threatens to destroy Springfield.
  • Dennis from Chicagoland Burrows, IlThis song's in the "Heathers" at the beginning, with the croquet!
  • Kevin from Cincinnati, OhSly and the Family Stone did a copy of this song on an album called Fresh in the 70s.I like Sly but the cover of this song i don't care for.
  • Wes from Springfield, VaThe end of the Hitchcock movie is pretty idiotic, wherein Doris bellows this tune at the top of her lungs to alert her son of her presence.
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