Saturday, April 21, 2001

50 years ago: Les Paul & Mary Ford hit #1 with “How High the Moon”

How High the Moon

Les Paul & Mary Ford

Writer(s): Morgan Lewis/Nancy Hamilton (see lyrics here)

First Charted: March 31, 1951

Peak: 19 US, 3 HP, 12 CB, 10 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.5 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Hamilton and Lewis wrote the Broadway revues One for the Money, Two for the Show, Three to Get Ready, and New Faces. They also collaborated on the Oscar-winning documentary film, Helen Keller – Her Life. Without question, though, their most noable accomplishment was “How High the Moon.”

Lewis was known for witty songs which lacked social significance, but when Two for the Show needed a romantic ballad, he adjusted. SB Alfred Drake and Frances Comstock sang it in the 1940 revue and it went on to be a chart hit for Benny Goodman and His Orchestra with Helen Forrest on vocal (#6). It was also a hit for Mitchell Ayres (#18, 1940) and Stan Kenton (#20, 1948) and was covered by Count Basie, Nat “King” Cole, Duke Ellington, Anita O’Day, Billy Taylor, and Mel Tormé.

The most noted version, however, was by guitarist Les Paul and his singing wife Mary Ford. They developed a reputation in the pre-rock era for “pretty, perky renditions of classic pop tunes.” TM “How High the Moon” was originally “a slow fox-trot, a song of longing where the moon is just a distant prop for melancholy.” TM However, Paul sped it up and infused it with guitar power chords which established a template for rock and roll. TM Bill Haley borrowed the song’s opening descending chord pattern for “Rock Around the Clock.” TM The Beatles’ Paul McCartney said, “We used to start our gigs with the opening riffs from ‘How High the Moon.’” TM

He also, without the benefit of audiotape, merged 21 different tracks of vocal and guitar parts – and no drums SA – into “a bubbly blast of pop immortality.” TM His pioneering over-dubbing and multi-tracking techniques are still used today. NRR The result was a #1 hit which became “a jazz and nightclub favorite” JA and “the bebop national anthem.” SA


  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Les Paul
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Mary Ford
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 79.
  • NRR National Recording Registry
  • SA David Sadowski (1999). Haven’t Named It Yet: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Prehistory, 1926-55.
  • SB
  • TM Time magazine (10/24/2011). “All Time 100 Songs

Last updated 8/16/2022.

Tuesday, April 3, 2001

Journey’s Arrival arrives

First posted 10/10/2008; updated 9/11/2020.



Released: April 3, 2001

Peak: 56 US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, 0.5 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic rock


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Higher Place (2001, --)
  2. All the Way (4/7/01, 22 AC)
  3. Signs of Life
  4. All the Things
  5. Loved by You
  6. Livin’ to Do
  7. World Gone Wild
  8. I Got a Reason
  9. With Your Love (2001, --)
  10. Lifetime of Dreams
  11. Live and Breathe
  12. Nothin’ Comes Close
  13. To Be Alive Again
  14. Kiss Me Softly
  15. We Will Meet Again

Total Running Time: 73:57

The Players:

  • Steve Augeri (vocals)
  • Neal Schon (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Jonathan Cain (keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals)
  • Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals)
  • Deen Castronovo (drums, backing vocals)


3.555 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

About the Album:

“Journey was formed originally as a vehicle for Neal Schon’s guitar pyrotechnics, but after five years the band sought out a lead singer to give them mainstream pop appeal, and Steve Perry did that, helping them to a string of seven consecutive multi-platinum albums before the band broke up in 1987. A 1996 reunion put them back in the winners’ circle with Trial by Fire, but Perry then bowed out for health reasons, putting Journey in the sticky position of recruiting a new lead singer.” AMG “They chose a soundalike, Steve Augeri, which suggests that they are more concerned with recreating their hits in concert than in making new music.” AMG

But make new music they did. If 1996’s reunion seemed unlikely after a ten-year absence, a new Journey album without Steve Perry seemed an even more improbable venture. However, with Agueri and new drummer Deen Castronovo, who’d worked with Journey’s Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain in the short-lived supergroup Bad English in the late-‘80s and early-‘90s, Journey did return to the fold with Arrival. “A group of Journey’s vintage always risks sounding like a copy band of itself, and Arrival…realizes that danger. The singer doesn’t quite have Perry’s smooth, flowing tenor, but he’s close enough so that much of the time, especially in big arrangements, he can fool you, though at unadorned moments on ballads he sounds different.” AMG Still, “Augeri’s debut…was heroic, his performances on the classy ballads All the Way [a minor AC hit] and Loved by You measuring up to Perry’s superhuman standards.” CRM

“When [Augeri’s] not singing, the music is even more like Journey, with Schon’s soaring leads supported by Jonathan Cain’s bright keyboards in typical arena rock arrangements. It’s hard to argue that the generalized romantic sentiments that make up the lyrics, here contributed by a variety of people including Augeri and Cain’s wife, are any worse than Perry’s, but Perry sang his words with more feeling than Augeri does. So, the new Journey turns out to be a half-step back to the old (make that the old, old Journey – pre-Perry, when Schon ruled).” AMG

“The album was originally first released in Japan in late 2000, but due to its leakage onto the Internet, the band decided to delay its release in the United States.” JM “Rock fans were more satisfied with songs like Higher Place,” JM a thought voiced by “fans who heard the leaked version of Arrival.” JM As a result of the feedback, “the band decided to record two harder rocking songs,” JM which resulted in “two new tracks on the American release, World Gone Wild and Nothin’ Comes Close.” JM

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