Sales (in millions):
* includes 1 million in sheet music sales
Airplay (in millions):
Hoagy Carmichael’s first major songwriting success NRR grew out of a visit to his University of Indiana alma mater when the inspiration for a melody came to him while he was reminiscing about a lost college love. TY Stuart Gorell, who had been a fellow student and the lyricist for Carmichael’s “Georgia on My Mind,” offered the idea for the song title when he said it “sounded like dust from the stars drifting down through the summer sky.” TY
The melody came so easily that Carmichael wondered if he’d actually recalled someone else’s composition. LW However, his melody didn’t follow the traditional Tin Pan Alley format of the day; instead he crafted two separate melodies for the chorus and the verse. LW Originally conceived as “an up-tempo dance instrumental” NPR in 1927. However, publisher Irving Mills suggested reworking it as a romantic vocal ballad. LW In 1929, Mitchell Parish penned the lyrics MM although Hoagy’s son claims they were based on words already written by his father. LW
Mills had the first chart version of the song in 1930, but it was Isham Jones who had the greatest success with his version in the slower tempo format, taking it to #1 in 1931. By decade’s end, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, and Tommy Dorsey all hit the charts with the song. All told, the song charted fifteen times from 1930 to 1943, PM helping brand it as “a certifiable American classic.” NPR
Dorsey seemingly had “a stranglehold on the song” JA after returning to the top ten in 1941 with a new version sporting vocals by Frank Sinatra and the Pied Pipers. That same version recharted in 1943. However, in a 1956 Billboard poll, disc jockeys rated Artie Shaw’s arrangement not just the best version of “Star Dust,” but as their favorite record of all time. PM
It has been recorded more than 2000 times LW in more than forty languages, RCG making it one of the most recorded songs in popular music, JA the most recorded love song of all time, PM and “the standard that defines the meaning of the word.” MM Country singer Willie Nelson calls it his all-time favorite song and Bette Midler has the lyrics carved in the stone of her fireplace. LW
JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 180.
LW Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Pages 60-1.
MM Max Morath (2002). The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards. New York, NY; Penguin Putnam Inc. Pages 182-3.