Body and Soul (1930 song)

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This article is about the jazz standard. For other songs with the same title, see Body and Soul (disambiguation).
"Body and Soul"
Single by Coleman Hawkins
Recorded October 11, 1939 at RCA Studios, New York, NY
Genre Jazz
Length 3:00
Label Bluebird
Writer(s) Edward Heyman
Robert Sour
Frank Eyton
Johnny Green

"Body and Soul" is a popular song and jazz standard written in 1930 with lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton; and music by Johnny Green.


"Body and Soul" was written in New York City for the British actress and singer Gertrude Lawrence, who introduced it to London audiences. Published in England, it was first performed in the U.S. by Libby Holman in the 1930 Broadway revue Three's a Crowd.[1] Louis Armstrong was the first jazz musician to record "Body and Soul".[1] The tune grew quickly in popularity, and by the end of 1930 at least eleven groups had recorded it.[2]

While in London, Hollywood songwriter/conductor Johnny Green wrote “Body and Soul” for Gertrude Lawrence. Jack Hylton & His Orchestra recorded the ballad first in Britain, but it was Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra (Jack Fulton, vocal) who popularized it. Their recording hit the charts on October 11, 1930, and held the number one spot for six weeks.[3]

"Body and Soul" remains a jazz standard, with hundreds of versions performed and recorded by dozens of artists. Classic vocal recordings include those of Ella Fitzgerald, Annette Hanshaw, Billie Holiday, Billy Eckstine, Etta James, Sarah Vaughan (for the 1954 album, Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown and the 1957 album, Swingin' Easy) and Frank Sinatra, and such musicians as Benny Goodman, Lee Konitz, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, (on his 1964 album, Coltrane's Sound,[4]) Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Stan Kenton, Royce Campbell, and Lester Young contributed notable instrumental recordings. The Manhattan Transfer sang it on their album Extensions in 1979, with lyrics honoring both Hawkins and Eddie Jefferson. To this day, "Body and Soul" is the most recorded jazz standard.[1]

Coleman Hawkins version[edit]

One of the most famous and influential takes was recorded by Coleman Hawkins and His Orchestra on October 11, 1939, at their only recording session for Bluebird, a subsidiary of RCA Victor. The recording is unusual in that the song's melody is only hinted at in the recording; Hawkins' two-choruses of improvisation over the tune's chord progression constitute almost the entire take.[5] Because of this, as well as the imaginative use of harmony and break from traditional swing cliches, the recording is recognised as part of the "early tremors of bebop".[6] In 2004, the Library of Congress entered it into the National Recording Registry.[7][8]

Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse version[edit]

"Body and Soul"
Single by Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse
from the album Duets II and Lioness: Hidden Treasures
Released September 14, 2011
Format Digital download
Recorded March 23, 2011
Abbey Road Studios
Length 3:20
Label Sony Music Entertainment/Island Records
Producer(s) Phil Ramone
Tony Bennett singles chronology
"Just In Time"
"Body and Soul"
"The Lady Is a Tramp"
Amy Winehouse singles chronology
"B Boy Baby"
"Body and Soul"
"Our Day Will Come"

"Body and Soul" was recorded as a duet by Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse on March 23, 2011.[9] It was the final recording made by Winehouse before her death on July 23, 2011 at the age of 27. The single was released worldwide on September 14, 2011, what would have been her 28th birthday, on iTunes, MTV and VH1.

When the song reached #87 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of October 1, 2011, it made Bennett, at age 85, the oldest living artist ever to chart on the Hot 100, surpassing the previous record of George Burns. This record was then surpassed by Christopher Lee in 2013. It also gave Bennett the longest overall span of appearances on the Hot 100; his version of "Young and Warm and Wonderful" appeared on the very first Hot 100 chart dated August 4, 1958.[10] The song received a Grammy Award at the 54th Grammy Awards in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category on 12 February 2012. Proceeds from "Body and Soul" go to benefit The Amy Winehouse Foundation, an organisation created to raise awareness and support for young adults struggling with addiction.[11]

A music video was uploaded to Tony Bennett's YouTube channel on September 14, 2011. The video shows Winehouse and Bennett in the studio performing the song. It had over 2 million views in its first 4 days on YouTube. As of February 2015, the video has over 13 million views.

Musical analysis[edit]

The first eight bars, with tenor saxophone

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Body and Soul" is usually performed in the key of Db major. There is a verse that precedes the chorus, but it is rarely performed. (Some recordings by Billie Holiday include it.) The main part of the tune consists of a repeated eight-bar melody, followed by an eight-bar bridge and a final eight-bar return to the melody. The 32-bar, AABA form is typical of popular songs of the time.[12] The "A" section uses conventional chord progressions including ii-V-I turnarounds in the home key of Db, however the bridge is highly unusual in its tonal center shifts. It has been described as "a bridge like no other".[13] "Body and Soul" is considered a challenging piece to solo over; however, the unusual nature of the chords provides a "large degree of improvisational freedom".[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Body and Soul". Jazz Retrieved August 20, 2011. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Gary Giddins, "How Come Jazz Isn't Dead", p. 39–55 in Eric Weisbard, ed., This is Pop, Harvard University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-674-01321-2 (cloth), ISBN 0-674-01344-1 (paper). p. 45.
  6. ^ Tom Moon, "Body and Soul", NPR Music, Accessed on 27 June 2012 from
  7. ^ Number 18 on The National Recording Registry 2004, accessed online 14 August 2007.
  8. ^ See also Gary Giddins, RHYTHM-A-NING, decapo press,pb."Fifty Years of "Body and Soul", p 45-53. ISBN 0-306-80987-7
  9. ^ Irish Times: Bennett-Winehouse single for release. Thursday, August 4, 2011, accessed online August 5, 2011
  10. ^ Trust, Gary (September 21, 2011). "Tony Bennett Oldest Living Artist Ever On Hot 100". Chart Beat ( Retrieved April 10, 2012. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Under heading "Thirty-Two-Bar AABA Pop Song Form".
  13. ^ William Zinnser, Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs.

See also[edit]