Strangers in the Night
"Strangers in the Night" is a song credited to Ivo Robic and Bert Kaempfert with English lyrics by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder. Kaempfert originally used it under the title "Beddy Bye" as part of the instrumental score for the movie A Man Could Get Killed. The song was made famous in 1966 by Frank Sinatra, although it was initially given to Melina Mercouri, who thought that a man's vocals would suit more to the melody and therefore declined to sing it.
|"Strangers In the Night"|
|Single by Frank Sinatra|
|from the album Strangers in the Night|
|B-side||"Oh, You Crazy Moon"|
|Recorded||April 11, 1966|
|Frank Sinatra singles chronology|
Reaching #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the Easy Listening chart, it was the title song for Sinatra's 1966 album Strangers in the Night, which became his most commercially successful album. The song also reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart.
Sinatra's recording won him the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and the Grammy Award for Record of the Year, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist or Instrumentalist for Ernie Freeman at the Grammy Awards of 1967.
In an interview, Avo Uvezian gave an account of the story behind "Strangers in the Night", stating that he originally composed the song for Frank Sinatra while in New York at the request of a mutual friend who wanted to introduce the two. He wrote the melody after which someone else put in the lyrics and the song was originally titled "Broken Guitar". He presented the song to Sinatra a week later, but Sinatra did not like the lyrics, so they were rewritten and the song was renamed and became known as "Strangers in the Night".
When asked about why someone else (Kaempfert) was claiming the song, Uvezian went on to say that since Kaempfert was a friend of his and in the industry, he asked him to publish the German version in Germany so the two could split the profits, since Uvezian did not feel he would get paid for his work on the song in the US. Uvezian stated that when he gave the music to Kaempfert the song had already been renamed and lyrics revised. Uvezian also stated that Kaempfert gave him a letter acknowledging Uvezian as the composer.
It is sometimes claimed that Croatian singer Ivo Robić was the original composer of "Strangers in the Night," and that he sold the rights to Kaempfert after entering it without success in a song contest in Yugoslavia. This has not been substantiated. Robić—often referred to as "Mr. Morgen" for his 1950s charts success with Morgen, created in collaboration with Bert Kaempfert—was rather the singer of the Croatian-language version of the song, called "Stranci u Noći."
It was published in 1966 by the Yugoslav record company Jugoton under the serial number EPY-3779. On the label of the record, B. Kaempfert and M. Renota are stated as authors, wherein Marija Renota is the creator of the Croatian lyrics. The original composition of "Strangers" was under the title "Beddy Bye"—referring to the lead character William Beddoes—as an instrumental for the score of the movie A Man Could Get Killed.
The phrase "Strangers in the Night" was created after the composition, when New York music publishers Roosevelt Music requested that lyricists Snyder and Singleton—fresh off "Spanish Eyes," composed by Kaempfert of "Moon Over Naples" fame—put some words to the tune. "Stranci u Noći" is a literal translation of this phrase.
In an interview on Croatian TV with a renowned Croatian composer Stjepan Mihaljinec Ivo Robic stated that he had composed a song Ta ljetna noć (That Summer Night) and sent it to a festival in former Yugoslavia, where it was rejected. Then he sang a first few tunes from that song, identical to the first few tunes from Strangers in the Night (Strangers in the night, exchanging glances...). He added that, later, Bert Kaempfert “composed” for him that very same song, which later became known as Strangers in the Night.
In 1967 French composer Michel Philippe-Gérard (more commonly known as Philippe-Gérard) established a claim that the melody of "Strangers" was based on his composition "Magic Tango", which was published in 1953 through Chappells in New York. Royalties from the song were thus frozen until a court in Paris ruled in 1971 against plagiarism, stating that many songs were based on similar constant factors.
The track was recorded on April 11, 1966, one month before the rest of the album. Hal Blaine was the drummer on the record and Glen Campbell played rhythm guitar. At the session an angry Sinatra turned on Campbell, who had been brought in at the last moment. Campbell did not know the song and faked his way through the first take while listening to the tune, making a mistake in the process. Sinatra was used to recording in a single take, and when told he would have to sing it again, he glared at Campbell and shouted, "Is that guy with us or is he sleeping?".
One of the most memorable and recognizable features of the record is Sinatra's scat improvisation of the melody (on take two) with the syllables "doo-be-doo-be-doo" as the song fades to the end. For the CD Nothing but the Best, the song was remastered and the running time is 2:45 instead of the usual 2:35. The extra ten seconds is just a continuation of Sinatra's scat singing.
Sinatra despised the song, calling it at one time "a piece of shit" and "the worst fucking song that I have ever heard." He was not afraid to voice his disapproval of playing it live. In spite of his contempt for the song, for the first time in 11 years he had a #1 hit, and it remained on the charts for 15 weeks.
"Strangers in the Night" was covered by many other artists, among them:
- Nancy Sinatra, live version on The Ed Sullivan Show, not available on any of Nancy's albums
- Eric Clapton used part of the melody for the first solo in "Sunshine of Your Love" at Knebworth '90
- Steven Maglio recorded the song for his 2015 album, Sinatra en Bossa Nova
- Deana Martin recorded “Strangers In The Night” on her 2016 album Swing Street
- Aerosmith on their Live! Bootleg album as an instrumental cover
- Marc Almond released a version on his album Stardom Road in 2007
- Peter Baumann
- Peter Beil, in German as "Fremde in der Nacht"
- Cake on their album B-Sides and Rarities
- Vikki Carr
- Violetta Villas
- Johnny Dorelli In Italian as "Solo Più Che Mai" in 1966, and in English for his album "L'Immensità" in 1967
- Petula Clark for her 1966 album I Couldn't Live Without Your Love
- Dalida, in Italian as "Sola più che mai"
- Aida Chalhoub, in Lebanese Arabic as "Ghuraba W Leil"
- Rodney Dangerfield on his 2005 album Romeo Rodney
- Italian-American tenor Sergio Franchi for his 1967 RCA Victor album From Sergio - with Love
- Connie Francis
- a first version in English (recorded April 2, 1966 - nine days prior to Sinatra's recording), which remains unreleased as of July 2012[update]
- a second Version in English for her 1966 album Movie Greats Of The 60s
- in Italian as "Sola più che mai" for her 1967 album Connie Francis canta i suoi best-seller
- in Spanish as "No puedo olvidar" for her 1967 album Grandes Exitos del Cine de los Años 60
- Jimi Hendrix quotes the melody during his performance of "Wild Thing" in the film Monterey Pop
- The song is sung by one of main characters in a soviet sci-fi film Kin-Dza-Dza! (the song starts in 2nd episode at 32 min 27 sec)
- Junichi Inagaki, in Japanese as "Yoru no sutorenjaa" for his 2012 album Aru koi no monogatari: My Standard Collection
- Line Renaud in French as "Étrangers dans la nuit" in 1966
- Jack Jones, who also recorded the song in 1966 just before Frank Sinatra recorded his version
- Anita Kerr Singers for their 1967 album Bert Kaempfert Turns Us On
- Brenda Lee
- Barry Manilow on his album Manilow Sings Sinatra
- Al Martino
- Johnny Mathis
- Bette Midler, a disco version of the song for her 1976 album Songs for the New Depression
- Mina recorded two versions of this song, one on her 1984 album Catene and another on her 2005 album L'allieva
- Perrey and Kingsley, an electronic version featuring the Moog synthesizer on their album Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Electronic Pop Music From Way Out
- Johnny Rivers from his 1966 album Changes
- Ivo Robić
- in German as "Fremde in der Nacht"
- in Croatian as "Stranci u Noći"
- Gerhard Wendland, in German as "Fremde in der Nacht"
- Andy Williams released a version in 1967 on his album, Born Free
The song has been recorded in Spanish by several artists under the title "Extraños en la noche", among them:
- Marco Antonio Muñiz
- Sandro de America
- Jose Guardiola
- Jose Feliciano
- Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 101. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
- "Eddie Snyder obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 2011-03-31. Retrieved 2011-04-02.
- Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 22 - Smack Dab in the Middle on Route 66: A skinny dip in the easy listening mainstream. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries. Track 3.
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition (Billboard Publications)
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 191–2. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- A Manhattan Theft Rooted in a Tale of Songwriting, Sinatra and Cigars
- Ivo Robic confirms authorship of Strangers in the night /Ivo Robić je autor pjesme Stranci u noći
- "Court Told Music Hit Plagiarized: French Composer Asks $400,000 For Sinatra Record". Toledo Blade. 7 December 1968. p. 4.
- "Charge Is Holding Up 'Strangers' Royalties". Billboard. 15 April 1967. p. 52.
- "Writer Loses 'Strangers' Case". Billboard. 17 April 1971. p. 50.
- Hartman, Kent, The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2012, pp.133-134
- Summers, Anthony; Swan, Robbyn. Sinatra: The Life. Random House Digital, Inc., New York, 2006, p. 334.
- Roberts, Ron: Connie Francis Discography 1955 – 1975, revised editions 1979 and 1983
- Francis, Connie and others: Souvenirs, companion book to 4 CD retrospective "Souvenirs", Polydor (New York) 1995, Kat.-Nr. 314 533 382-2
- "Bert Kaempfert Music - Cover Versions". Kaempfert.de. Archived from the original on 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
- "Frank Sinatra Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.