That Old Black Magic
|"That Old Black Magic"|
|Single by Glenn Miller|
|B-side||A Pink Cocktail For a Blue Lady|
|Recorded||July 15, 1942|
|Genre||Swing, jazz, popular|
|Writer(s)||Harold Arlen (music), Johnny Mercer (lyrics)|
The song was published in 1942 and has become an often-recorded standard with versions that include the original single release by Glenn Miller, the singers Margaret Whiting, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Mercer himself, and others. Mercer wrote the lyrics with Judy Garland in mind, who was, on occasion, an intimate partner. Garland recorded the song for Decca Records in 1942. Mercer recalled wanting to write a song about magic, and while composing, asking Arlen to write more music so the song could go on longer, but that they still wrote the whole song in about three hours.
The Glenn Miller recording was released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-1523-A, with "A Pink Cocktail For a Blue Lady" as the B side. The vocals were by Skip Nelson and the Modernaires. Glenn Miller recorded the song on July 15, 1942. The release was Glenn Miller's last #1 hit. It charted in 1943, spending 14 weeks on the Billboard magazine charts, peaking at position #1 for the week of May 29.
The Margaret Whiting recording (with the Freddie Slack Orchestra, which got top billing on the label) was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 126. It charted in 1943, spending 1 week at #10 on the Billboard chart.
Frank Sinatra recorded the song twice: once as a ballad for Columbia, and again in 1961 in a lightly swinging arrangement for Capitol (featured on Come Swing with Me.) Sinatra also sang a slightly altered version of the song titled, "That Old Jack Magic" at the inaugural gala he held for John F. Kennedy the night before Kennedy was inaugurated as the thirty-fifth President of the United States.
The Sammy Davis, Jr. recording was released by Decca Records as catalog number 29541. It charted in 1955 and spent 6 weeks on the Billboard charts, peaking at position #16. Sammy Davis, Jr. performs "That Old Black Magic" during a guest appearance on the television series I Dream of Jeannie.
Marilyn Monroe famously sang the song in her film Bus Stop, in 1956. Her character Cheree is singing the song (somewhat out of key) to an audience who is not listening and talking loudly, until Don Murray quiets them all down.
The said duet version was rearranged and used as background music in the swimsuit competition in the semifinals of the Miss Universe 1996 beauty pageant held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As part of his album, My Name is Allan, Allan Sherman sang a parody of this song called "That Old Back Scratcher".
It was featured twice on Star Trek: Voyager. It was sung by Seven of Nine during a simulation of World War II on the first part of the episode "The Killing Game". The second time it was performed by The Doctor and Harry Kim and his jazz band called 'Harry Kim and the Kimtones' in the episode "Virtuoso". A recording by Judy Garland featured in the film "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" (2005). The music of the song appears in the film All About Eve (1950).
In 1992, it was recorded by Nancy LaMott on her album "Come Rain or Come Shine." She turned it into a torch song, a change from the swing arrangements that Sinatra and others employed. Jonathan Schwartz, the New York DJ and son of composer Arthur Schwartz, often states that the song never appealed to him—just Arlen and Mercer "hokem"—until he heard LaMott's version.
Deana Martin recorded "That Old Black Magic” in 2009. The song was released on her album, Volare, released in 2009 by Big Fish Records.
- Larry Adler
- Ray Anthony
- Harold Arlen
- Charlie Barnet
- Tony Bennett
- Earl Bostic
- Les Brown and his Band of Renown
- Dave Brubeck
- Cab Calloway
- Rosemary Clooney
- Holly Cole
- Ray Conniff
- Chris Connor - I Walk With Music (2002)
- Bing Crosby
- Billy Daniels
- James Darren - This One's from the Heart (1999)
- Miles Davis
- Sammy Davis Jr.
- Doris Day
- Buddy DeFranco
- Jula de Palma
- Tommy Dorsey
- Ray Eberle and his Orchestra
- Billy Eckstine with the Billy May Orchestra
- Percy Faith
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Judy Garland
- Erroll Garner
- Carroll Gibbons
- Dizzy Gillespie
- Stéphane Grappelli
- Lionel Hampton
- Johnny Hartman
- Dick Haymes
- Shirley Horn
- Spike Jones and his City Slickers
- Stan Kenton
- Peggy Lee
- Jerry Lewis (in the movie The Nutty Professor)
- Henry Mancini and his Orchestra
- The Marcels
- Deana Martin
- Tony Martin
- Johnny Mathis
- Carmen McRae
- Johnny Mercer
- Glenn Miller and his Orchestra
- Marilyn Monroe (in the movie Bus Stop)
- Marion Montgomery
- Van Morrison
- The Muppets (Sam and Friends, The Muppet Show)
- Berl Olswanger - Berl Olswanger at the Piano (1953)
- Oscar Peterson
- The Platters
- André Prévin
- Louis Prima
- Red Norvo Quintet
- Lita Roza
- Bobby Rydell
- David Seering (with Tommy Newsom and the L.A. Big-Band All Stars)
- Allan Sherman ("That Old Back Scratcher")
- Janis Siegel
- Frank Sinatra
- Keely Smith
- The Softones
- Kevin Spacey
- Rod Stewart
- Toni Tennille
- Mel Tormé
- Caterina Valente
- Sarah Vaughan
- Margaret Whiting
- Widespread Panic (live)
- Robbie Williams
- Tom Jones
- Jean Shy (#13 Disco Hit, produced by Bob Esty release name Jeanne Shy)
- Ray Davies
- Jamie Cullum
- Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs
- Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854. Tape 1, side A.
- That Old Black Magic. Second Hand Songs.
- Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940-1955. Record Research.
- Song artist 6 - Glenn Miller.tsort.info.
- Garlen, Jennnifer C.; Graham, Anissa M. (2009). Kermit Culture: Critical Perspectives on Jim Henson's Muppets. McFarland & Company. p. 218. ISBN 078644259X.
"I've Heard That Song Before" by Harry James
|number-one single according to Billboard magazine
May 29, 1943
"I've Heard That Song Before" by Harry James