Straighten Up and Fly Right

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"Straighten Up and Fly Right" is a 1943 song written by Nat King Cole and Irving Mills and performed by The King Cole Trio. The single became the trio's most popular single reaching number one on the Harlem Hit Parade for ten non consecutive weeks. The single also peaked at number nine on the pop charts.[1] "Straighten Up and Fly Right" also reached number one for six non consecutive weeks on the Most Played Jukebox Hillbilly Records. [2]

The song was based on a black folk tale that Cole's father had used as a theme for one of his sermons. A buzzard takes different animals for a joy ride. When he gets hungry, he throws them off on a dive and eats them for dinner. A monkey who had observed this trick goes for a ride; he wraps his tail around the buzzard's neck and gives the buzzard a big surprise by nearly choking him to death.

The song was a part of the score of the 1943 film, "Here Comes Elmer"[3]

The song was used in the 1995 HBO historical war drama The Tuskegee Airmen and the title was quoted by the pilots when going into battle.

The Andrews Sisters' version of the song is featured in the 2010 video game Mafia 2, as one of the in game radio songs.

In the movie "Ray", Jamie Foxx (as Ray Charles) sings it as his first song at his first gig in Seattle, inspired by a vision from his mother telling him to play some Nat King Cole.

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 126. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 85. 
  3. ^ The New York Times
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 126. 
Preceded by
"Main Stem" by Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra
Billboard Harlem Hit Parade number-one single
April 29, 1944
Succeeded by
"G.I. Jive" by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five
Preceded by
"So Long Pal" by Al Dexter
Most Played Jukebox Hillbilly Records
number one single

June 10, 1944
Succeeded by
"Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby" by Louis Jordan and Tympany Five