Stranger In Paradise

Album: Alone at Last with Tony Bennett (1953)
Charted: 1 2
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Songfacts®:

  • "Stranger In Paradise" was written by Robert Wright and George Forrest for the 1953 Broadway show Kismet, where it was sung by Richard Kiley and Doretta Morrow. Like all the other songs in that show, the melody was based on music composed by Alexander Borodin. In this case, it was a theme from his Polovetsian Dances in the Russian composer's 1890 opera Igor.
  • The most popular version was sung by Tony Bennett; his version peaked at #2 in the US. (The other side of the single, "Rags to Riches," reached #1).
  • Tony Bennett recalled in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: "It was released three weeks before the show opened on Broadway, right in the middle of a newspaper strike. On the opening night when the audience hears the song they had heard me sing on the radio, they cheered. That helped Kismet become a huge hit without any reviews, just word of mouth."
  • It was not until 1955 that Kismet, and thus the songs from the show, came to the UK. Again Tony Bennett's version was the biggest hit, this time topping the chart. However, other versions also received popular favor: The Four Aces and Tony Martin both reached the Top 10 with the song, while trumpeter Eddie Calvert's instrumental interpretation reached #14 in the UK listings.

    Also in 1955, Kismet was made into a movie. In the film, the song is performed by Vic Damone and Ann Blyth.
  • Not only did this prove to be Tony Bennett's only UK chart-topper, but "Stranger In Paradise" was his only Top 10 hit in Britain. Yet, despite a comparative lack of chart success with his singles, Bennett has long been acknowledged across the Atlantic as one of the great jazz balladeers.
  • Thirteen years earlier, Artie Shaw's 1940 recording of "My Fantasy" (credited to composers Whiteman-Meskitt-Edwards) has a virtually identical tune to "Stranger In Paradise."

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