Friday, December 16, 1994

50 years ago: Bing Crosby “Don’t Fence Me In” hit #1

Don’t Fence Me In

Bing Crosby with the Andrews Sisters

Writer(s): Cole Porter, Robert Fletcher (see lyrics here)

First Charted: November 25, 1944

Peak: 18 US, 14 GA, 18 HP, 9 RB, 112 AU (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

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


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This song about “a footloose and fancy-free kind of person who refuses to settle down” TY1 was considered uncharacteristic for songwriter Cole Porter. Not only does it lack the “sophistication of most of his lyrics” TY1 but it does not “seem especially clever or debonair.” TY1 Porter even called it his least favorite of his compositions. WK

Then again, the song wasn’t entirely his. Robert Fletcher, a Montana engineer with the Department of Highways, wrote a poem, which would seem to be “Open Range” from his 1934 book Coral Dust, and Porter bought the rights for $250. WK Porter used some of the phrases to fashion “Don’t Fence Me In”. TY1

The song was written in 1934 for the never-released film Adios Argentina. The song resurfaced when Roy Rogers and the Andrews Sisters performed it in the film Hollywood Canteen. TY1 Rogers performed the song again in the 1945 film Don’t Fence Me In and it was also featured in 1946’s Night and Day, a tribute to Cole Porter’s life and his music. TY1 Kate Smith introduced the song to many new listeners on her October 8, 1944, radio broadcast. WK

Meanwhile, Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters recorded a version of the song in a mere thirty minutes on July 25, 1944. WK They released the song as a single. All told, the pairing made for 23 chart appearances, hitting #2 on five occasions. This was the bigger of their two songs which hit #1. The other, “A Hot Time in the Town of Berlin”, had charted only a couple of months earlier and topped the charts for six weeks. PM “Fence” and 1943’s “Pistol Packin’ Mama” were also million sellers. PM


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First posted 11/25/2011; last updated 3/31/2023.

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