American life, Louis Armstrong, 1901-1971: 'The Ambassador of American Jazz'

Are you a fan of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World song? Do you believe he would write the same lyrics nowadays?

He didn’t actually write the song, but I do think the lyrics make as much sense today (in both earnest and ironic ways) as they did when the song came out in 1968.

Hi, Forest! Well, at least, according to “American life” in VOA at Library, this song was HIS last hit. Have you read about other composer?

It was Armstrong’s hit, in the sense that he sang it, but I believe Bob Thiele and George David Weiss wrote it for him. I don’t have a reliable source on hand, but here is an article from the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail about it:

Forest, thanks for letting me know Armstrong didn´t compose What a Wonderful World but the songwriters Bob Thiele and George David Weiss. In fact, VOA site should avoid these kind of misinterpretations. Yes, you can´t base on newspapers ("You can’t judge by newspaper headlines, because print publications are geared to sell copies. Sensationalism sells.”), but don´t you think this kind of song can be use to alienate people from reality?

Oh, sure, songs like this can be used that way, especially as political propaganda. But with “What a Wonderful World,” the lyrics focus more on the natural aspects of the planet, which, unlike people, is essentially innocent. Now, I’ll grant that the part about race and love might seem a little too sweet: “The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky / Are also on the faces of people going by / I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do / They’re really saying I love you.” But in the context of American history, this very basic statement about human society probably seemed more poignant. Just months after this song was released, civil rights leader Martin King, Jr. and Democratic Sen. Robert Kennedy (who was running for President) were both killed. Also, George Wallace, a man who supported racial segregation, also ran for President that year.

As a whole, I’d say that this song paints such a pretty picture of the world that it’s hard not to remember how awful the world can be, too. But at the same time, its idealism is inspiring–it makes me want to help make the world a better place. I hope that doesn’t sound silly! : )

Well, you seem to be an intelligent guy. It’s hard to come in and out to chat. Do you have msn or skype?

You see? It was because of these strange feelings (idealism and silliness at the same time) that I asked that question above. Romanticism is coming back to music, I agree. Decades ago, people felt ashamed of being romantic. It was fashion to talk about wars, social problems and misery all the time. That sounded intellectual. But I don´t know if it’s a reflex of decades behind (at least for older people), we still feel as if we are being silly when we listen to some songs like What a Wonderful World. Some people understand it as an ingenue world-view or – worse! – as an ironic and maybe provocative song.