My Heart Stood Still

Album: Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Song Book (1956)
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Songfacts®:

  • It's love at first sight for Ella Fitzgerald in this romantic tune from the popular songwriting duo Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. She sings:

    I took one look at you, that's all I meant to do
    And then my heart stood still,
    My feet could step and walk, my lips could move and talk
    And yet my heart stood still


    Rodgers and Hart wrote the song for the 1927 musical One Dam Thing After Another, where it was performed by English actress Jessie Matthews, and revived it later that year for the Broadway smash A Connecticut Yankee.
  • Before settling down to work, the songwriters took a two-week break in Paris, where a near-tragedy inspired the song. "On a drive from Paris to Versailles with two girls, we were nearly hit by a cab," Hart recalled. "One of the girls said: 'My God! My heart stood still!' I said to Dick, 'That's a good title.' Before long, Dick came to me with 'My Heart Stood Still' for our new [Charles] Cochran show, One Dam Thing After Another."
  • This was covered by several artists, including Chet Baker, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dave Brubeck, Perry Como, and The Mamas & the Papas. Rod Stewart also included it on his second album of pop standards, As Time Goes By: the Great American Songbook, Volume II (2003).
  • Fitzgerald's version includes the original opening ("I laughed at sweethearts I met at schools ...") and closing ("Through all my school days, I hated boys...") verses that reflect her change of heart about love. Most covers omit one or both of the verses.
  • Chet Baker's version was used on the Parenthood episode "The Booth Job" in 2010.
  • Peggy Lee recorded this on her 1957 album The Man I Love, backed by an orchestra conducted by Frank Sinatra and arranged by Nelson Riddle. Lee sang it accompanied by Riddle's orchestra on The Nat King Cole Show while on a promotional tour that year. Cole had already cut an instrumental version of the tune with Riddle on his 1956 album The Piano Style of Nat King Cole.
  • Hart, struggling with alcoholism and depression, disappeared the night A Connecticut Yankee reopened in 1943. He was found ill with pneumonia in a hotel room two days later and died shortly after. In 1948, a fictionalized account of Rodgers and Hart's partnership hit the big screen in the musical Words and Music, starring Tom Drake as Rodgers and Mickey Rooney as Hart. An orchestral rendition of "My Heart Stood Still" plays during Hart's death scene.

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