Friday, July 1, 1994

50 years ago: Bing Crosby “I’ll Be Seeing You” hit #1

I’ll Be Seeing You

Tommy Dorsey’s Orchestra with Frank Sinatra

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

First Charted: April 27, 1940

Peak: 4 US, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

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

I’ll Be Seeing You

Bing Crosby with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra

First Charted: April 22, 1944

Peak: 14 US, 12 GA, 110 HP, 14 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

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

Awards (Bing Crosby):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Tamara Drasin introduced this “torch ballad” TY 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

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 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 It became the go-to song for couples separated by war. MM

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 Liberace used it as his closing theme for many years. MM 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


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Frank Sinatra
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Bing Crosby
  • MM Max Morath (2002). The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards. New York, NY; Penguin Putnam Inc. Page 166.
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Page 604.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 125.
  • WK Wikipedia

Related Links:

First posted 7/1/2016; last updated 7/25/2022.

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