Wonderful World

Album: The Wonderful World of Sam Cooke (1960)
Charted: 2 12
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  • "Wonderful World," or "(What a) Wonderful World," was one of Sam Cooke's 29 US Top 40 hits released between 1957 and 1964. The song was released on April 14, 1960 and quickly reached #2 on the US Black Singles chart, #12 on the US Pop Singles chart, and #27 on the UK Singles chart.
  • "Wonderful World" was originally written by music legends Lou Alder and Herb Alpert, but Cooke added the finishing lyrical touches, and the trio used the songwriting pseudonym "Barbara Campbell," the name of Cooke's high school sweetheart. Adler went on from this success to found Dunhill Records and manage big name artists such as Jan & Dean, The Mamas & The Papas, and Carole King. Not to be outdone, his writing partner, Herb Alpert, put the "A" in A&M Records after performing for several years with his band Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass.
  • Cooke recorded "Wonderful World" on Keen Records shortly before he left the label over a royalty dispute in 1959. In 1960, Cooke had moved on to RCA Victor, but Keen, still owning the rights to "Wonderful World," released the single in April 1960.
  • Don't let the bouncy rhythm and upbeat tempo fool you. According to Craig Werner, a professor of African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the song may have a more politically charged meaning. In his book, A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race and the Soul of America, Werner writes that "Wonderful World" may be one of the first examples of Cooke's crossover into politics, where he informs white listeners that he "don't know much about history" and "don't know much biology" as a comment that these are the things to forget about African-Americans, and all they need to remember is love.
  • Throughout the years, "Wonderful World" has been covered by a number of artists including Otis Redding, Bryan Ferry, Michael Bolton, and Rod Stewart. After Sam Cooke's death in 1964, there were a rash of "tribute" covers released including a 1965 up-tempo version by Herman's Hermits, which reached #4 on the US Pop Singles chart and #7 on the UK Singles chart, and a rendition by The Supremes released on their 1965 album "We Remember Sam Cooke." In 1977, Art Garfunkel put his spin on the hit for his album, Watermark, which featured harmonies by friend, James Taylor, and former partner, Paul Simon.
  • "Wonderful World" has been a hit with filmmakers since its release. The song can be heard in the famous lunchroom scene of the 1978 classic, Animal House. It was also featured in the 1983 Richard Gere drama, Breathless, and appeared in the opening titles of the 2005 Will Smith comedy, Hitch. A Greg Chapman cover of "Wonderful World" was spotlighted in the 1985 film, Witness, which spurred resurgence in popularity for the single and led to use of the Cooke original in a well-remembered 1986 British ad for Levi 501 Jeans. The song originally peaked at #27 in the UK, but after the commercial, the song was re-released there and reached #2.
  • According to Rolling Stone, before the song came out, Cooke liked to sing it for women he met, telling them he'd made it up on the spot just for them.
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Comments: 8

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1965 {April 16th} Herman's Hermits performed "Wonderful World" on the British ITV network television program, 'Ready Steady Go!'....
    Thirteen days later on April 29th, 1965 "Wonderful World" entered the United Kingdom's Top 50 Singles chart at position #26, three weeks later it would peak at #7 {for 1 week} and it spent nine weeks on the Top 50...
    It reached #4 on Billboard's Top 100 chart...
    Between 1964 and 1970 the Manchester, England quintet had twenty records on the UK Singles chart, ten made the Top 10 with one* reaching #1, their debut record "I'm Into Something Good", for two weeks in 1964...
    Herman, born Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone, will celebrate his 72nd birthday this coming November 5th, 2019...
    * They just missed having a second #1 when their record "My Sentimental Friend" peaked at #2 {for 2 weeks} in 1969, the two weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "Get Back" by the Beatles and Billy Preston...
  • Arthur from New JerseyThe version by Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon and James Taylor contains a verse that was not in Cooke's original.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 14, 1965, Herman' Hermits performed their covered version of "Wonderful World" on the Dick Clark produced ABC-TV network weekday-afternoon program 'Where The Action Is'...
    At the time the song was at #12 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; the week before it was at #4 and that was also it's peak position on the chart, it spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
    Also at the time the group's "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" was at #3, for the next two weeks it was at #2, then it peaked at #1 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the Top 100 for 10 weeks...
    And exactly five years earlier on July 14th, 1960 Sam Cooke's original version of "Wonderful World" was at #18 on the Top 100, the two previous weeks it was at #12 and that was it's peak position on the chart...
    Between 1964 and 1968 Herman's Hermits had nineteen records on the Hot Top 100 chart; eleven made the Top 10 with two reaching #1*, besides "Henry VIII", their other #1 record was "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter" for 3 weeks in 1965...
    Herman, born Peter Blair Denis Bernard Noone, will celebrate his 70th birthday in four months on November 5th, 2017...
    * They just missed having a third #1 record when "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" peaked at #2 {for 2 weeks}, the two weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "Stop! In The Love of Love" by the Supremes.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 6th 1965, Herman's Hermits performed "Wonderful World" and ""Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    At the time both songs were on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; "Wonderful World" was at #8 and working its way up the chart, a little under a month later on July 4th, 1965 it would peak at #4 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 10 weeks...
    While on the other hand, "Mrs. Brown" was at #11 and heading down the chart; six weeks earlier on April 25th it had peaked at #1 {for 3 weeks} and spent 11 weeks on the Top 100...
    Plus the quintet also had a third record on the Top 100 at the time, their covered version of "Silhouettes" was at #18*...
    * They did not perform the song on the 'Sullivan' show.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 20th 1960, Sam Cooke was the headliner at a concert at the Tivoli Theater in Chicago, IL
    At the time his "Wonderful World" was at #29 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; five weeks later it would peak at #12 {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 15 weeks...
    And on June 13th, 1960 it peaked at #2 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's R&B Singles chart; the two records that prevented it from reaching #1 were "Cathy's Clown" by the Everly Brothers and "A Rockin' Good Way" by Brook Benton & Dinah Washington...
    Sadly, Mr. Cooke passed away on December 11th, 1964 at the young age of 33...
    * Two of the opening acts for Mr. Cooke were the Flamingos and the Crests.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 15th 1978. "(What A) Wonderful World" by Art Garfunkel with James Taylor and Paul Simon entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on March 12th it peaked at #17 (for 2 week) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on February 5th, 1978 it reached #1 (for 5 weeks) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Eighteen years earlier on May 3rd, 1960 Sam Cooke entered the Top 100 with the original version; and on June 27th, 1960 it peaked at #12 (for 2 weeks)...
    In 1965 Herman's Hermits' covered version reached #4 on the Top 100; and in the U.K. Johnny Nash took it to #25 in 1976...
    R.I.P. Mr Cooke (1931 - 1964).
  • Camille from Toronto, OhThis is one of the very best classic tunes out there. Over the years, I've heard so many renditions of it, I'm not sure which is my favorite. Most of them do a good rendition of it. My favorite use of it is in the movie "Witness" which is one of the very best movies ever made. The scene where Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis, who plays an Amish woman, dance to this song when he finds it on the car radio while in a barn trying to get the car repaired is movie magic. This song was the perfect fit to an exceptional bit of cinematic delight.
  • Charlotte from Liverpool, United Kingdomdefinitely the best sam cooke song well my fav anyway , he's got real soul! pity he was killed so young like other great masters like buddy holly, lennon , cochran and marvin gayeto name a few. a dead good song!
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