Monday, January 26, 2009

What a Wonderful World

George Adams (tenor sax)
Ben Sidran (piano)

Written by Bob Thiele (using the pseudonym George Douglas*) and George David Weiss**, What a Wonderful World was first recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1968. Intended as an antidote for the increasingly racially and politically charged climate of everyday life in the U.S., the song also has a hopeful, optimistic tone with regard to the future, with reference to newborn babies having much to look forward to. The song was not initially a hit in the United States, where it sold fewer than 1,000 copies, but was a major success in the UK, reaching number one on the singles chart, becoming the biggest-selling single of 1968. The song made Louis Armstrong the oldest male to top the UK charts, at sixty-six years and ten months old.

The song gradually became something of a standard and reached a new level of popularity. It was re-released in America shortly after Armstrong's death in 1971 and became a top ten hit. It is also a jazz standard, ranked number 945 at

*Some of the songs Thiele wrote are credited to George Douglas or Stanley Clayton. These are pseudonyms Thiele used, made from the names of his uncles, Stanley, Clayton, George, and Douglas. Thiele was a record producer and husband of singer Teresa Brewer.
**Weiss was president of the Songwriters Guild of America; among other notable songs he penned was Lullaby of Birdland.

Another rendition of this classic tune:
Duet by K.D. Lang & Tony Bennett

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