Friday, August 5, 2016

8/5/1944: Bing Crosby hits #1 with “Swinging on a Star”

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Bing Crosby with the Williams Brothers Quartet “Swinging on a Star”

Writer(s): Jimmy Van Heusen/ Johnny Burke (see lyrics here)

First charted: 5/13/1944

Peak: 19 US, 1 GA, 2 HP, 1 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

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

Review: Composer Jimmy Van Heusen was at Bing Crosby’s house for dinner specifically to discuss plan’s for a song for the impending movie Going My Way, starring Crosby. Bing’s son complained about not wanting to go to school the next day, to which Dad replied, “If you don’t go to school, you might grow up to be a mule. Do you wanna do that?” WK Van Heusen relayed the remark to lyricist Johnny Burke, WK who turned it into the line “By the way if you hate to go to school/ You may grow up to be a mule.”

The movie, which featured Crosby as a young Catholic priest, was one of his best-loved performances. Crosby sings the song a group of children at St. Dominic’s Church TY-117 who are behaving much as his own son had the night Van Heusen had come to dinner. WK The tune amusingly became a favorite for young listeners, JA-187 but had plenty of adult fans as well – it won the Academy Award for Best Song.

Crosby recorded “Swinging on a Star” with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Williams Brothers Quartet, which included 7-year-old Andy Williams, a future singing star himself. PM-109 It became the biggest hit of 1944. WHC-63 Others who’ve recorded the song include Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Burl Ives, Shari Lewis, Maureen McGovern, Oscar Peterson, and Frank Sinatra. WK

The song resurfaced multiple times in television in film, including a Little Lulu cartoon (1947), a performance from Jimmy Dean and Rowlf the Dog (a muppet) on the Jimmy Dean Show (1967), Sesame Street (Susan with muppets, 1969), and Julie Andrews’ television special My Favorite Things (1975). It became the theme song for the TV series Out of This World (1987) and Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello performed it in the film Hudson Hawk (1991). 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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