Meaning of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World

The last hit of the incomparable Louis Armstrong was the incomparable composition What a Wonderful World, which he recorded at the age of sixty-six, four years before his death.

The history of the song could have been completely different if Tony Bennett had agreed to perform it. But he refused, and Armstrong made it a classic of the genre, although at first circumstances were not conducive to success.

The history of the creation of the song What a Wonderful World

By the mid-sixties, Louis Armstrong was already considered a living legend. He sang a lot of super popular songs, made a significant contribution to the development of jazz and was treated kindly by the attention of critics and the public. Although young bands were booming at that time, Armstrong managed to compete with them.

In 1964, his Hello, Dolly! ousted The Beatles from first place on the Billboard Hot 100, which, with three different composers, sat at the top of the charts for fourteen weeks in a row.

Three years later, producer Bob Thiel and songwriter George David Weiss pitched Armstrong the song What a Wonderful World. Actually, before that they turned to Tony Bennett with it, but for some reason he did not want to perform it. Louis’s candidacy as a possible performer of the song was suggested to them by producer Artie Butler, who knew that Armstrong was just gathering material for a new record.

Song recording

In a telephone conversation, the musician gave the go-ahead, and Thiel and Weiss went to Las Vegas to meet Armstrong and record What a Wonderful World. They started working on the song at two in the morning.

However, their session was almost interrupted by Larry Newton, president of ABC Records, with whom Louis had just signed a contract. Newton believed that success should be built on the same cheerful songs as Hello, Dolly!, and was categorically against What a Wonderful World. Larry tried so hard to stop them that he literally had to be pushed out of the studio and locked the door.

Considering that in those days songs were recorded live, without subsequent overlays of tracks on each other, sometimes dozens of attempts had to be made to achieve the desired result. Twice Armstrong and the musicians were hampered by a passing train, and several takes were spoiled by Larry Newton, who made himself felt outside. Work on What a Wonderful World was completed only at six o’clock in the morning.

Single release

What a Wonderful World was released as a single in 1967, and that’s when Larry Newton got his revenge on Armstrong. He refused to promote the song, and for several months the records were gathering dust at ABC Records. In early 1968, What a Wonderful World was introduced to the British public and it soon topped the UK Singles Chart. But Larry still did not release the composition in the US, where it sold no more than one thousand copies.

Interest in What a Wonderful World in the States woke up due to the difficult political situation in the country. Racial riots have been added to the mass protests against the Vietnam War. Many believed that the composition of Armstrong, who was respected by the population with different skin colors, was able to somewhat calm society. The legendary jazz artist agreed and sang What a Wonderful World at every opportunity.

However, not all blacks adequately perceived the song, because Louis has long been accused of pleasing whites with his work. At one of his speeches, Armstrong spoke about this as follows:

Some of you young people say to me, “Hey honey, what do you want to say? What an amazing world? How about wars everywhere? Do you call them amazing? … But why don’t you listen to the old man for a bit? It seems to me that it is not the world that is so bad, but what we do with it. And I want to say how amazing he could be if we gave him a chance. Love, baby, love. Here is the secret…

But even in this situation, ABC continued to persevere. The company was forced to release a new Armstrong album, which included the song What a Wonderful World, but still refused to promote it.

“Good morning, Vietnam”

When Louis Armstrong died, the single was re-released, but with moderate success. What a Wonderful World became a real hit in the US only in 1988, when Barry Levinson’s feature film Good Morning, Vietnam, starring Robin Williams, was released. In the picture, the cheerful song contrasts sharply with the terrible scenes of the war and makes you think a lot.

After the success of the picture, the song What a Wonderful World was again released as a single, which this time reached number 32 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and in Australia it even topped the local charts.

In 1999, she was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Louis Armstrong What a Wonderful World Lyrics

I see trees of green, red roses, too
I see them bloom, for me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue, and clouds of white,
The bright blessed day
The dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

the color 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”.

I hear babies cry,
I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more
Than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself
what a wonderful world,
Yes, I think to myself
what a wonderful world

Louis Armstrong What a Wonderful World Lyrics

I see green trees and also red roses
I see them bloom – for you and me
And I think,
How amazing is the world

I see blue skies and white clouds
Bright blessed day
Dark sacred night
And I think,
How amazing is the world

Colors of rainbow
So good in the sky
Also on faces.
people passing by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, “How are you?”
In fact, they say “I love you”

I hear babies cry
I watch them grow
They learn a lot more
Than I ever knew
And I think,
How amazing is the world
Yes, I think,
How amazing is the world

Song quote

You can use this song in any context and people will stop and smile.

Neil McCormick

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