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Swinging on a Star

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"Swinging on a Star" is an American pop standard with music composed by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Johnny Burke.[1] It was introduced by Bing Crosby in the 1944 film Going My Way, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song that year,[1][2] and has been recorded by numerous artists since then. In 2004 it finished at #37 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.

"Swinging on a Star"
Single by Bing Crosby with the Williams Brothers Quartet and John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra
from the album Selections from Going My Way
Format7-inch, 10-inch
GenreTraditional pop


Songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen was at Crosby’s house one evening for dinner, and to discuss a song for the film project Going My Way. During the meal, one of the children began complaining about how he did not want to go to school the next day. The singer turned to his son and said to him, "If you don’t go to school, you might grow up to be a mule." Van Heusen thought this clever rebuke would make a good song for the film.[2] He pictured Crosby, who played a priest, talking to a group of children acting much the same way as his own child had acted that night. Van Heusen took the idea to his partner lyricist Johnny Burke, who approved. They wrote the song.[3]


"The lyrics follow the usual verse-refrain format".[4] The length of the composition is unusual: the refrain is just 8 bars in length, and the verse is 12 bars.[4]


The first recording of "Swinging on a Star", with Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra, took place in Los Angeles on February 7, 1944, and was released as Decca Records on Disc No. 18597 paired with "Going My Way". The song topped the USA charts in 1944 and Australian charts in 1945. The Williams Brothers Quartet, including a young Andy Williams, sang backup vocals behind Crosby.[3]

A 1963 recording by Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva reached No. 38 in the Billboard Hot 100 in the US[5] and No. 7 in the UK Singles Chart in January 1964.[1] Also in 1964, Richard Anthony sang a French version, "À toi de choisir".[citation needed]

Awards and honorsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 134. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854. Tape 2, side A.
  3. ^ a b A Bing Crosby Discography, Part 1b: Commercial Recordings - The Decca Years
  4. ^ a b Owens, Thomas (1996). Bebop: The Music and Its Players. Oxford University Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-19-510651-0.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2009). Top Pop Singles, 12th Edition. Record Research.

External linksEdit