World's Greatest Songs—What a Wonderful World

Louis Armstrong

GREAT songs have longevity. Great songs are trans-generational. Great songs can be rendered by artists across the musical spectrum and each time seem fresh and new.

"What a Wonderful World" is such a great song.

"In the late 60s, everyone was looking for respite from domestic and international tensions—assassinations, race riots, the war in Vietnam—So songwriters George David Weiss and Bob Thiele decided to put their accent on the positive and make a beautiful, tender song. In 1967, [Louis] Armstrong's subdued version became his last major hit. Sixteen years after his death, in 1987, "What a Wonderful World" was used in the film Good Morning, Vietnam, and the same Armstrong recording swooped back up the charts as part of the soundtrack album." —100 Favorite Songs Of Faith, Friendship And Love

While Armstrong claims the definitive version, "What a Wonderful World" has been covered many times by notable performers. Anne Murray, Tony Bennett and LeAnn Rimes all released albums containing the song as the title cut. Interestingly, Joey Ramone even recorded a version on his solo album, Don't Worry About Me, released posthumously.

What a Wonderful World Lyrics
(Words and Music by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele)

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 colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin' hands, sayin' "How do you do?"
They're really saying "I love you"

I hear babies cryin', 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
Oh yeah

You can listen to "What a Wonderful World" here.

George David Weiss was a prolific songwriter during the 1940s-1960s and active throughout his career in the songwriting community, serving for many years as president of the Songwriters Guild of America. Among his other accomplishments, Weiss co-penned the classic Elvis Presley hit, "Can't Help Falling in Love" (1961) with Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore. He was inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1984.

According to Wikipedia, "Bob Thiele (July 27, 1922 - January 30, 1996) was an American record producer. His wife was the singer Teresa Brewer.

"He hosted a jazz radio show when he was 14. He also played clarinet and led a band in the New York area. At 17 he founded the Signature label and recorded many jazz greats, including Lester Young, Errol Garner and, in 1943, Coleman Hawkins. Signature folded in 1948 and he joined Decca Records in 1952, running its Coral Records subsidiary.

"He took over as head of Impulse! Records from 1961-69 after founder Creed Taylor went to run Verve Records and signed, and recorded such artists as John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler and others...

"Thiele later formed his own record label, Flying Dutchman Records, which is now part of BMG or Sony BMG. In 1995 he released a memoir titled What a Wonderful World: A Lifetime of Recordings."

Incidentally, there is another great song by virtually the same title as "What a Wonderful World," made famous by the legendary Sam Cooke. Its official title is "Wonderful World" and it was written by Cooke and music industry icons Lou Adler and Herb Alpert. James Taylor, Art Garfunkel and Herman's Hermits also had hits with covers of the song.

(What a) Wonderful World Lyrics
(Words and Music by Sam Cooke, Lou Adler and Herb Alpert)

Don't know much about history,
don't know much biology.
Don't know much about a science book,
don't know much about the french I took.
But I do know that I love you,
and I know that if you love me, too,
what a wonderful world this would be.

Don't know much about geography,
don't know much trigonometry.
Don't know much about algebra,
don't know what s slide rule is for.
But I know that one and one is two,
and if this one could be with you,
what a wonderful world this would be.

I don't claim to be an 'A' student,
but I'm tryin' to be.
For maybe by being an 'A'-student, baby,
I can win your love for me.

Don't know much about history,
don't know much biology.
Don't know much about a science book,
don't know much about the french I took.
But I do know that I love you,
and I know that if you love me, too,
what a wonderful world this would be.

Sam Cooke: Portrait of A Legend - 1951-1964 Performed by Sam Cooke. Single for voice, piano and guitar (chords only). 207 pages. Published by Alfred Publishing. (AP.PFM0316)
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