Monday, January 8, 2024

My Favorite Songs: What A Wonderful World

If you've followed me here in the past, one of the things you probably know about me is that I love music, particularly oldies! It is rare that you would find me listening to anything that is popular today, unless it's a song my daughter introduced me to, or occassionally a newer country song. I do love me some Tim McGraw! But 99.9% of the time if I am listening to music it's oldies from the 40's - 70's, the only exception being anything from the disco era or The Beach Boys, #notafan.

I love sharing my love of oldies music with my readers and introducing them to the sentimental songs of days gone by.  I even have a playlist of my favorites in my side bar, The Ordinary Days of Small Things Favorite's Playlist, which you can click on any time you want to peruse a few of my favorites!

But I thought it might be fun to pick a few songs here and there and share a little about their history and why they are my favorites, and I'll begin with my absolute favorite song of all time, What A Wonderful World, sung by Louis Armstrong.

Written by George Thiele, writing under the psyeudonym "George Douglas" and George David Weiss, What A Wonderful World was first recorded in 1967 and released as a single in 1968 by Louis Armstrong, topping the charts in the UK but originally performing poorly in the US. George Weiss stated that he wrote the song specifically for Armstrong, who inspired him by his ability to bring people of all races together. Armstrong had recently signed with ABC Records, and president Larry Newton was hoping for a hit like Hello Dolly which Armstrong recorded with Kapp records a few years earlier. So when he heard the slower pace of A Wonderful World, he tried to stop the recording session and was thrown out of the building. They finished the session that night, and the song was released, but because Newton refused to promote it, it intially sold fewer than 1,000 copies in the US, but was a major success in the United Kingdom, reaching number 1 on the UK Singles Chart. 

The song gradually became something of a standard and reached a new level of popularity. An episode of The Muppet Show produced in 1977 and broadcast early in 1978 featured Rowlf the Dog singing the song to a puppy. In 1978, it was featured in the closing scenes of BBC radio's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and was repeated for BBC's 1981 TV adaptation of the series. In 1988, Armstrong's recording was used in the film Good Morning, Vietnam, and was re-released as a single, reaching number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1988. It is also the closing song for the 1995 movie 12 Monkeys and the 1998 film adaptation of Madeline. Armstrongs recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

After it was released digitally, Armstrong's 1967 recording had sold over 2,173,000 downloads in the United States as of April, 2004. 

In 2021, it was ranked at No. 171 on Rolling Stone's "Top 500 Best Songs of All Time"

For me personally, I love this song for its emphasis on the simple ordinary things that make up an extraordinary life. I believe that when we take the time to notice the abundance which is ours every-single-day, we don't focus as much on what we feel is lacking. I don't ever want to take the beauty of life for granted! Taking the time to notice these simple every day graces, forces us to slow down, to simplify our expectations, and to be content, and those are all good things! I love this song so much, in fact, that I have it set as my ringer on my cell phone and every time I hear those first few notes, I smile!

If you've never listened to it, just click play below! To be honest, a lot of people are not Louis Armstrong fans, and in today's world he probably would not have made it far. But even his style speaks to a simplicity of life that is becoming harder to capture in this day and time. It's one of the reasons I think I am drawn to songs like these. In the midst of all the hurt and hate that exists in the world, music takes me back. I can't control what is happening in the world, but I do have some say about the atmosphere that exists within my house, and music often sets the stage.


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 cry
I watch them grow
They'll learn much more 
Than I'll ever know
And I think to myself 
What a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself 
What a wonderful world
Ooh, yes

If you enjoyed this post, and if you like oldies music, I'll be writing about more of my favorite songs in upcoming posts, and sharing other playlists with you as I develop them! I love movies and sit-coms from the same era, and I'll be sharing about them as well!  I hope you'll join me!

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