Friday, July 1, 2016

7/1/1944: Bing Crosby hits the charts with “I’ll Be Seeing You”

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Bing Crosby with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra “I’ll Be Seeing You”

Writer(s): Irving Kahal/ Sammy Fain (see lyrics here)

First charted: 4/22/1944

Peak: 14 US, 12 GA, 110 HP, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --

Review: Tamara Drasin introduced this “torch ballad” TY-115 about a Parisian love affair in the Broadway musical Right This Way in 1938. The show was a failure, closing after a mere 15 performances. WK Like the musical, the song was initially overlooked. Frank Sinatra recorded it with Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra in 1940, but it didn’t take off at the time. SS-604

In 1944, the song became an inspiration for a film. The movie, named after the song, starred Joseph Cotton and Ginger Rogers as a couple who meet on a train. Both have secrets. She had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and he was on leave from a military hospital trying to adjust to daily life after suffering from shell shock. WK

By recasting the song as a war anthem, the song was given new meaning through the perspective of “a soldier who saw the image of his beloved in everything around him.” SS-604 In this new context, Bing Crosby, who ruled the music charts and won an Oscar that year for his performance in Going My Way, recorded the song and took it to #1. As Will Friedwald said, “No other singer could so effectively portray so ineffable a sense of absence and loss.” SS-604 It became the go-to song for couples separated by war. MM-166

At that point, the Dorsey/Sinatra version resurfaced and went to #4. Over the years, Judy Collins, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Willie Nelson, and Neil Sedaka have also sung it. MM-166 Liberace used it as his closing theme for many years. MM-166 The song was referenced in an episode of The Honeymooners and was used in episodes of TV shows Get Smart, Designing Women, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Beavis and Butt-head. It was also used in the movies Yanks (1979), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Misery (1990), Shining Through (1992), The Aviator (2004), and The Notebook (2004). Doc Severinsen and the NBC Orchestra performed it on the final episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. WK

Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


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