Thursday, October 01, 2015

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Louis Armstrong

Artist:Louis Armstrong
Song:What A Wonderful World
Album:Ken Burns Jazz

For all his accomplishments and innovations, this 1968 album track is probably one of Louis Armstrong's most memorable recordings. What A Wonderful World was a hit single in 1988 because it was used in the hit film Good Morning Vietnam. By the 60s Armstrong still recorded jazz occasionally. But for the most part, he was recording pop music dominated by his singing as opposed to his trumpet playing. Armstrong always sang even in his prime in the 20s. But Armstrong wasn't interested in changing his trumpet playing style so he decided to be a pop singer. Probably his biggest hit of the 60s was the theme from the Broadway show Hello, Dolly. Armstrong topped the charts with his 1964 recording and he became the oldest artist to ever have a number one pop hit. And that was while Beatlemania was going on. I'm not a big fan of Armstrong's 60s recordings but no one could beat The Beatles at the time. What A Wonderful World was recorded in 1968. The song is credited to George Douglas and George David Weiss. Weiss was a veteran lyricist who also wrote the Elvis Presley hit Can't Help Falling In Love. George Douglas is a pseudonym for veteran jazz producer Bob Thiele. Theile was a house producer for Impulse Records which was owned by ABC Records. Thiele says Tony Bennett turned down the song before it was offered to Armstrong. Weiss says he wrote the lyrics for Armstrong. In his memoir, Thiele says he had a big argument with ABC Records head Larry Newton over What A Wonderful World and he had to lock Newton out of the recording studio. As a result, the record didn't sell because Newton hated it and he refused to promote it. The record was still a number one hit in England and was a minor hit elsewhere. The song was used in the 1988 film Good Morning Vietnam and and it reached #32 on the Billboard Hot 100. It became one of Armstrong's most popular songs long after his death. You can get it on this budget comp released in conjunction with the PBS documentary series Ken Burns Jazz. It's a good single CD intro to Armstrong's music as it covers his entire career. Here's Louis Armstrong performing It's A Wonderful World 1970.


  1. Frank, I heard a story that Louis Armstrong started playing the trumpet as a young man after he was in Juvenile Detention for shooting a gun in a bar. His officer encouraged him to do this. He was until then headed towards a life of crime. Is that true? Thanks David.