Thursday, June 28, 2007

Better Late Than Never, Cont'd

When the Robin Williams vehicle Good Morning, Vietnam came out in 1988, it prominently featured Louis Armstrong singing "What a Wonderful World" (a different but no less wonderful song from the Sam Cooke/Art Garfunkel "Wonderful World" we were discussing a few days ago) in a rendition that I would have sworn dated from something like 1955, although it was really cut in 1967. In fact, I assumed it was some kind of classic old hit -- it sure sounds like one.

But it hadn't been a hit at all. According to my Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, the final Top Forty hit of Satchmo's lifetime was the smash "Hello, Dolly," which entered the charts on, of all dates, February 29th, 1964, and went to Number One for a single week on May 9th. "What a Wonderful World," released three years later, went nowhere.

Until, that is, the spring of 1988, when with a little help from Adrian Cronauer, it broke through the Top Forty and climbed as high as a somewhat unimpressive Number 32. But that Number 32 hit had been recorded a full 21 years earlier, giving Louis Armstrong, although dead for over 15 years, the record for the longest wait before a song reached the Top Forty for the first time.

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