Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Louis Armstrong :: What a Wonderful World



George David Weiss, who wrote this song in 1966, has died. He was 89, and also wrote "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
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5 comments:

Seahorse said...

"What a Wonderful World" has consistently ranked high if not first on lists of the best songs of the 20th Century. There are a few perfect songs, and this one is right there.

Seahorse

Marge said...

George David Weiss was a great songwriter, but he didn't write The Lion Sleeps Tonight. It is credited to Zulu South African Solomon Linda. For more on this read the Wikipedia entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lion_Sleeps_Tonight

and the excellent Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGZB7s5qLg8

When Pete Seeger realized the origin of the song, he redirected his royalties from it to Solomon Linda.

PBurns said...

Thanks Marge --

It turns out the story is a little more complicated than that, though you have a big chunk of it.

Solomon Linda's original a cappella tune, from 1939, had only two words to it -- "Lion" and "Stop".

He signed away his rights to the song for less than a dollar, and his family did the same again several times in later years (all the way into the 1980s).

Pete Seeger recorded a slightly changed version of the tune in the 1950s, when he was with The Weavers.

In 1961, the song got a pretty substantial rewrite by George Weiss who took the last 20 improvised seconds of Mr. Linda's recording and transformed it into a melody. He also added all the lyrics we know today.

_ _ _ _ _

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

Near the village, the peaceful village
The lion sleeps tonight
Near the village, the peaceful village
The lion sleeps tonight

Hush, my darling, don't fear, my darling
The lion sleeps tonight
Hush, my darling, don't fear, my darling
The lion sleeps tonight

Near the village, the peaceful village
The lion sleeps tonight
Near the village, the peaceful village
The lion sleeps tonight

My little darling
Don't fear, my little darling
My little darling
Don't fear, my little darling

_ _ _ _ _ _


A teen group called the Tokens sang it with a doo-wop beat and it charted.

Solomon Linda died in 1962.

All of this, for the record, is lifted from the New York Times article from 2006. See >>
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/22/international/africa/22lion.html

Most interesing here is that if you look in the box at the NYT article link, they have the original song, as recorded by Solomon Linda, and as it metamorphosed down the decades.

P

Marge said...

Patrick, I didn't realize you wanted me to post the WHOLE story. :-)

AnnB said...

What a wonderful song. It never fails to make me smile.

AnnB
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