Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World

Not such a wonderful world all of the time but a wonderful song every time it is played. Not many songs can match the beauty of this recording. It only peaked at #112 in the Billboard Charts… but charted again in 1988 off the strength of movie “Good Morning Vietnam” and charted at #32 in the Billboard 100.

The song did top the UK chart in 1968 and Armstrong was the oldest male to ever top it at 66 years old. This was written by Bob Thiele and George Weiss who some say offered it to Tony Bennet first who reportedly turned it down…but Weiss claims was it was written just for Louis Armstrong.

From Songfacts.

This is the song most associated with Louis Armstrong, but it does not represent the body of his work, which consists mostly of jazz.

In America, this song became a beloved standard, but when it was first released in 1968, it barely dented the charts, peaking at #116. It was more appreciated 20 years later when it was used in the Robin Williams movie Good Morning, Vietnam; the song was re-released to coincide with the film, and this time charted at #32.

The boss of ABC Records hated this and did not promote it until it became a hit in England.

This was the last song publicly performed by Eva Cassidy, who died of cancer about six weeks later in 1996. Cassidy became known after her death when a BBC radio DJ started playing songs from her album Songbird. The album gained popularity and went to #1 in the UK. She required medication to get on stage the last time. >>

Joey Ramone covered this on his 2002 album, Don’t Worry About Me, which was released almost a year after his death. Ramone occasionally played this live long before he recorded it. It expressed his optimistic view of the world, even as he was faced with death.

In Britain, this was the biggest-selling single of 1968. >>

For the 2002 album When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear, Country music star Roy Clark recorded this song. Cevin Soling, who was executive producer on the album, had The Oak Ridge Boys record “Carry On Wayward Son” for the project, and their manager Jim Halsey suggested Clark. Says Soling: “Johnny Cash was going to be on the record. And I was supposed to go to Jamaica to work with him. And that was one of the sad phone calls that I got… he had borrowed Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s house there and was building a studio, so I was waiting for construction of the studio. He was going to do the Zombies’ ‘Time Of The Season,’ and then shortly before I was supposed to go out there I got a call that he was too sick. Then I talked to Jim Halsey about it, and he goes, ‘Well, if you’re looking for that I can get Roy Clark.’ So that was how the Roy Clark track came together. It was just thrown at me. Any track is so much work, it was nice to have something that just sort of fell in my lap. I mean, I was doing all the contract negotiations, I was doing the producing, the contracts, the arranging… everything. Soup to nuts was all me in making it happen. So for a track to fall in my lap was a godsend at that point.” (Check out our interview with Cevin Soling.)

In 2007 a cover by Katie Meluia and Eva Cassidy was a #1 in the UK. It was an unusual duet with Meluia’s vocals being spliced with those of the late Eva Cassidy. A charity single for the Red Cross, the single was only available in Tesco stores, so it was a surprise this version of “What A Wonderful World” outsold the competition in the singles chart.

With the success of this cover, Eva Cassidy became the 13th act to have a posthumous UK chart-topper. No other artist has had a larger gap between passing away and their debut posthumous UK #1, Cassidy having died on November 2, 1996, 11 years and one month ago before achieving peak position.

This was a #11 hit in the UK in 2001 when Cliff Richard released it in a medley with “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” Co-incidentally Eva Cassidy’s biggest hit in the UK before this single had been her take on “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” which peaked at #42.

What a Wonderful World

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

6 thoughts on “Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World”

  1. what a great tune! Don’t forget the Simon and Garfunkel take on it too, a top 20 from 1978. But I don’t think any match the Louis version. Man, hard to imagine it didn’t even crack the top 100 first time around, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Do you like the Hawian guy’s version? I couldn’t spell his name so I just looked him up…
        Israel Kamakawiwoʻole

        Like

    1. I agree totally. You cannot better that.. his version is beautiful….thanks for bringing My One and Only Love up…its been a while since I heard that.

      The only version I enjoy other than Louis is the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole version when he combined Over the Rainbow and this one… but no one does it better than Armstrong…period.

      Liked by 1 person

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