Friday, May 26, 1995

50 years ago: Les Brown hit #1 with “Sentimental Journey”

Sentimental Journey

Les Brown

Writer(s): Bud Green, Les Brown, Ben Homer (see lyrics here)


First Charted: March 3, 1945


Peak: 19 US, 12 GA, 14 HP (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 4.88 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Sentimental indeed. When she first saw the sheet music, Doris Day commented, “What a lovely title,” to which Les Brown responded “Wait till you hear it.” SS “The song’s aching nostalgia struck a chord in a nation welcoming its boys back from the front lines,” TM becoming “one of a handful of songs that summed up romantic longing during World War II.” SS Will Friedwald called it “the definitive end-of-war song,” SS “a song that helped define an era.” SS

Doris Day’s “honey with a dash of pepper” TM voice compelled one “to pack your bag and join her on that journey home.” TM “In the lilting fox-trot…and in Arthur Green’s swinging sen-tuh-men-tul phrasing — you can almost see the locomotive wheels chugging, hear the steam spurting from the smokestack and feel the second-class coach swaying back and forth as the train makes its way down the tracks.” TM

The top hit of 1945 TY launched the career of then-twenty-year-old Doris Day as a solo artist and America’s sweetheart. It would be the biggest hit of her career as well as Les Brown, the orchestra leader credited with the song. Stunningly, the record could potentially have been even bigger. According to George Simon in the December 1946 issue of Metronome, war restrictions prevented Columbia Records from pressing more copies of the song to maximize its potential. SS On top of that, Les Brown and His Band of Renown performed the song for awhile, but couldn’t record it because of the musicians’ strike of 1942 to 1944. WK

Brown adopted the million-seller as his theme song TY and Ringo Starr later used it as the title cut for his 1970 debut solo album, a collection of standards. JA It became a jazz standard and was recorded by numerous artists, including Booker T. & the MG’s, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgeald, Woody Herman, Harry James, The Platters, Frank Sinatra, and Amy Winehouse. WK


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Les Brown
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Doris Day
  • JA David A. Jasen. (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 170.
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Pages 375-6.
  • TM Time magazine (10/24/2011). “All Time 100 Songs
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 125.
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 3/3/2016; last updated 4/3/2021.

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