Saturday, February 17, 1990

50 years ago: Cliff Edwards charted with “When You Wish Upon a Star”

When You Wish Upon a Star

Cliff Edwards with the Ken Darby Singers & Victor Young’s Orchestra

Writer(s): Leigh Harline (music), Ned Washington (words) (see lyrics here)


First Charted: February 17, 1940


Peak: 10 US, 11 GA, 15 HP (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 13.2 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“When You Wish Upon a Star” may be the most recognizable of the Disney classics, and there have been many. The song was introduced in the animated Disney film, Pinocchio, by Cliff Edwards. He lent his voice to the character of Jiminy Cricket and crooned the sentimental ballad about the power of dreams. It won the Academy Award for Best Song and while that feat became run-of-the-mill for songs from Disney films in the 1990s (five times from 1989 to 1999), it would take nearly 50 years after “When You Wish Upon a Star” before another Disney song accomplished the feat.

Edwards was a popular star in the 1920s and ‘30s known as Ukulele Ike. He worked in vaudeville, musical comedy, and film in the beginning of the sound era, but his career was in decline when he landed the part of Jiminy Cricket. His recording of “Star” was one of the first taken directly from a soundtrack and given a commercial release. NRR He was accompanied on the recording by Victor Young & His Orchestra as well as the Ken Darby Singers. PM Edwards’ “natural tenor and clear falsetto make the song a classic.” NRR

Ned Washington and Leigh Harline wrote the song. Washington, the song’s lyricist, was prolific in writing songs for films while Harline served as a Disney staff composer. SF The song’s message about making dreams come true resonated; it would later become the theme for the Walt Disney Company, SB used in promotional campaigns for Disney’s theme parks. The first 7 notes of the melody are even used as the horn signal for the ships on the Disney cruise line. SF

The song topped the jukebox charts for eight weeks and ranked among the year’s top sheet music sellers. TY Edwards’ version was one of four to hit the charts in 1940. His take on the song peaked at #10 while Glenn Miller took it to #1 and Guy Lombardo had a #5 hit. Horace Heidt also got to #12 with it. PM In 1960, Dion & the Belmonts charted with a top 30 version of the song. HT Chet Atkins, Rosemary Clooney, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Billy Joel, and Olivia Newton-John are among the other artists to record the song.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Cliff Edwards
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 211.
  • NRR National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress The Full National Recording Registry
  • SB Songbook1.wordpress.com
  • SF Songfacts.com
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 104.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Pages 146, 635.
  • HT Joel Whitburn (2009). Top Pop Singles 1955-2008 (12th edition). Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc.


First posted 2/17/2013; last updated 10/4/2021.

Saturday, February 10, 1990

50 years ago: Glenn Miller hit #1 for the first of 13 weeks with “In the Mood”

In the Mood

Glenn Miller

Writer(s):Andy Razaf, Joe Garland (see lyrics here)


First Charted: October 7, 1939


Peak: 113 US, 5 GA, 9 HP, 13 UK, 120 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 42.38 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“In the Mood” is “one of the best known musical themes of the World War II era” NRR and one of the big band era’s most recognizable songs. It was the biggest hit of 1940 WHC and of Miller’s career. The song, however, went through several others’ hands before it ended up with Miller.

Joseph “Wingy” Manone, a New Orleans jazz trumpeter and bandleader, wrote and recorded a song in 1930 called “Tar Paper Stomp”. Thanks to copyright laws of the day, a song not written down and registered with the copyright office was fair game. WK Tin Pan Alley composers Joe Garland and Andy Razaf arranged “In the Mood” based on Manone’s song and the Edgar Hayes’ Orchestra recorded it in 1938. WK

The song ended up in Artie Shaw’s hands, but the more-than-eight-minute arrangement was too long for him to record. SF Glenn Miller then arranged the song to include the famous tenor sax battle WK with solos by Tex and Al Klink as well as trumpeter Clyde Hurley. PM

Chart purists debate the song’s true peak position. Miller’s “In the Mood” topped the jukebox list for 13 weeks, but it never hit the top 15 on the sheet music chart, which was generally considered the true mark of a song’s success at the time. WK

The song enjoyed a chart life beyond the big band era. In 1953, Johnny Maddox went to #16 with it and Ernie Fields revived it for a #4 hit in 1959. At the end of the Beatles’ 1967 #1 hit “All You Need Is Love” the orchestra plays a snipet of “In the Mood”. SF Bette Midler had a minor hit with it in 1974. In 1977, Ray Stevens had a top 40 hit with a novelty version of the song in which he performed it bar-for-bar in clucking chicken sounds. That version was credited to the Henhouse Five Plus Two. In 1989, Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers’ #11 hit “Swing the Mood” fused “In the Mood” into a medley with early rock and roll hits.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Glenn Miller
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 101.
  • NRR National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress The Full National Recording Registry
  • SF Songfacts.com
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 98.
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 59.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 309.
  • WK Wikipedia


First posted 10/7/2011; last updated 10/4/2021.