Rags To Riches

Album: The Essential Tony Bennett (1953)
Charted: 1

Songfacts®:

  • The song uses the well-known term "rags to riches," meaning to rise from poverty to wealth. Fictional examples of this are Cinderella, Little Orphan Annie, and Oliver Twist. It is about valuing the love of a particular person over wealth. Even though the singer doesn't have money, he/she still feels like a millionaire. In the end, we never know if the singer's dream of love actually comes true, going from rags to riches, or remaining a beggar forever.
  • This was written in 1953 by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, who first started writing songs together in 1950. Together they wrote the Broadway shows The Pajama Game (1954) and Damn Yankees (1955). Combined, the original Broadway productions of all of their musicals won a total of 11 Tony Awards. Many of their songs became part of the Great American Songbook (such as "Hey There," a #1 hit for Rosemary Clooney in 1954). Their massive success was unfortunately cut short when Jerry Ross died of bronchiectasis in 1955 at the age of 29.
  • Tony Bennett's recording of "Rags to Riches" did not chart in the UK, but British singer David Whitefield recorded the song in the same year and brought it to #3. Bennett did reach #1 in the UK with his follow-up single "Stranger in Paradise."

    After sitting at #1 for 6 weeks (November 21 - Deceber 26), Eddie Fisher's "Oh My Pa-Pa (O Mein Papa)" knocked Whitefield's "Rags To Riches" out of the top spot. Fisher's recording didn't chart in the UK, either.
  • Bennett recorded this with Percy Faith and His Orchestra.
  • In the television show Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983) this is the signature song of Carmine Ragusa (Eddie Mekka). He regularly bursts into song, usually belting "Rags to Riches" in the style of Tony Bennett. He even matches Bennett's vibrato.
  • Elvis Presley reached #33 US with his recording in 1971. Other artists to chart with the song in America are Sunny & The Sunliners (#45, 1963) and Lenny Welch (#102, 1966).
  • In 2012 Tony Bennett released a duet recording with Romeo Santos, who sings his lines in Spanish.

Comments: 1

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn November 22, 1953, Tony Bennett's "Rags to Riches" was at #1 on all three of Billboard's national charts, Best Selling Singles in Stores, Most Played on Juke Boxes, and Most Played by Jockeys...
    At #2 at the time on the Best Selling and Jockeys charts was "Ebb Tide" by Frank Chacksfield, while at #2 on the Juke Boxes chart was "You, You, You" by the Ames Brothers...
    Between 1951 and 2011 he had fifty-two records on Billboard's Top 100 chart, seven made the Top 10 with three* reaching #1, besides "Rags to Riches", his two other #1 records were "Because of You" for 8 weeks in 1951, then he replaced himself in the top spot with his covered version of "Cold, Cold Heart", it remained at #1 for six weeks...
    Mr. Bennett, born Anthony Dominick Benedetto, celebrated his 91st birthday three months ago on August 3rd {2017}...
    * He just missed having a fourth #1 record when his "Stranger In Paradise" peaked at #2 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Most Played by Jockeys chart in 1954, the two weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for those two weeks was "Oh, My Papa" by Eddie Fisher.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

American Hits With Foreign TitlesSong Writing

What are the biggest US hits with French, Spanish (not "Rico Suave"), Italian, Scottish, Greek, and Japanese titles?

"Private Eyes" - The Story Behind the SongSong Writing

How a goofy detective movie, a disenchanted director and an unlikely songwriter led to one of the biggest hits in pop history.

Five Rockers Who Rolled With The DevilSong Writing

Just how much did these monsters of rock dabble in the occult?

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)Songwriter Interviews

Mike Rutherford talks about the "Silent Running" storyline and "Land Of Confusion" in the age of Trump.

Black SabbathFact or Fiction

Dwarfs on stage with an oversize Stonehenge set? Dabbling in Satanism? Find out which Spinal Tap-moments were true for Black Sabbath.

Tom Johnston from The Doobie BrothersSongwriter Interviews

The Doobies guitarist and lead singer, Tom wrote the classics "Listen To The Music," "Long Train Runnin'" and "China Grove."