"Stardust" is a popular song composed in 1927 by Hoagy Carmichael with lyrics added by Mitchell Parish in 1929. Carmichael recorded the song, originally titled "Star Dust", at the Gennett studio in Richmond, Indiana. The "song about a song about love", played in an idiosyncratic melody in medium tempo, became an American standard and is one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century with over 1,500 recordings. In 2004, Carmichael's 1927 recording of the song was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.
|Song by Hoagy Carmichael|
According to Carmichael, the inspiration for "Stardust" (the song's original title was "Star Dust", which has long been compounded into "Stardust") came to him while he was on the campus of his alma mater, Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. He began whistling the tune, then rushed to the Book Nook, a popular student hangout, and started composing. He worked to refine the melody over the course of the next several months, likely in Bloomington or Indianapolis (sources cite various locations, and Carmichael himself liked to embellish the facts about the song's origins). "Stardust" was first recorded in Richmond, Indiana, for Gennett by Carmichael with Emil Seidel and his Orchestra and the Dorsey brothers as "Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals" on October 31, 1927, as a peppy but mid-tempo jazz instrumental. Carmichael said he was inspired by the improvisations of Bix Beiderbecke. The tune at first attracted only moderate attention, mostly from fellow musicians, a few of whom (including Don Redman) recorded their own versions.
Mitchell Parish wrote lyrics for the song, which were published in 1929, based on his and Carmichael's ideas. A slower version had been recorded in October 1928, but the transformation came on May 16, 1930, when bandleader Isham Jones recorded it as a sentimental ballad. "Stardust" is a 32-bar melody with a slightly unusual ABAC structure preceded by a 16-bar verse. Although the verse is often omitted in recordings, Frank Sinatra made a recording in 1961 of just the verse. The verse and chorus have the same final cadence, though other than that they are musically distinct.
The original sheet music publication of "Stardust" was published under the title "Star Dust" by Mills Music with a copyright date of 1929. The first recording of the song (Gennett 78, 6311-B.), which was made by Hoagy Carmichael in 1927 before the writing of the song's lyrics, was titled "Stardust". Carmichael referred to his song as "Stardust" in a 1936 letter to M.B. Yarling of the Sears & Roebuck Company's Radio and Publicity Dept. He also referred to the song as "Stardust" in his memoir The Stardust Road while relating the story of its composition. In his book Stardust Melodies: The Biography of Twelve of America's Most Popular Songs, Will Friedwald states, "the correct title is given as two words, 'Star Dust'".
Isham Jones's recording became the first of many hit versions. Bing Crosby recorded a version on August 19, 1931 with studio orchestra directed by Victor Young, and by the following year, over two dozen bands had recorded "Stardust." It was then covered by almost every prominent band of that era, including Artie Shaw in 1941 with solos by Billy Butterfield (trumpet) and Jack Jenney (trombone).
Versions have been recorded by Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Django Reinhardt, Tex Beneke with the Glenn Miller Orchestra,  and Joni James on her 1956 single
The early portion of the 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre included a rendition of the song played by the fictional "Ramón Raquello and his Orchestra". The actual band performing in the broadcast included a young Mitch Miller.
Violinist Vov Dylan and Pianist Glenn Amer recorded an instrumental of this song for their album The Violinist – Romantic Classics
The 1927 recording on Gennett by Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1995. In 1999, "Stardust" was included in the NPR 100, a list compiled by National Public Radio of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century. In 2000, Swedish music reviewers voted it "Tune of the Century" with "Mack the Knife" by Kurt Weil coming in second. In 2004, Carmichael's 1927 recording of the song was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress for the National Recording Registry.
Attempting to explain the song's "eternal popularity", Carmichael biographer Richard M. Sudhalter credits "some combination of young Carmichael's heartland upbringing, Bix's uniquely bardic sensibility, and the unself-conscious emotional directness that characterizes much non-urban American pop music."
- Sudhalter 2002, p.XI. See also p.123: "..."Star Dust" is obviously a song about a song—a genre relatively rare in American popular music. There had been such songs before: Irving Berlin's 1909 "That Mesmerizing Mendelssohn Tune" (about the great German composer's famed Spring Song) is one example among many. But none had been a major song about a song—particularly a song that didn't actually exist. This was new."
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