"What's New?" is a 1939 popular song composed by Bob Haggart, with lyrics by Johnny Burke. It was originally an instrumental tune titled "I'm Free" by Haggart in 1938, when Haggart was a member of Bob Crosby and His Orchestra. The tune was written with a trumpet solo, meant to showcase the talents of band-mate Billy Butterfield. Crosby's orchestra recorded "I'm Free" the same day it was written.
The following year, the music publishers hired Johnny Burke to write lyrics for the tune. Burke's telling of the torch song is unique, using one side of a casual conversation between former lovers. Thus the song was retitled using the song's first line, "What's New?" The song was recorded with the new title in 1939 by Bob Crosby And His Orchestra With Vocalist Teddy Grace. The song reached a peak chart position of #10.
Other popular 1939 recordings of "What's New" include Hal Kemp and His Orchestra with Vocalist Nan Wynn, which peaked at #11, Benny Goodman and His Orchestra with vocalist Louise Tobin, which peaked at #7, and a recording by Bing Crosby which peaked at #7. Dexter Gordon regularly performed the song in the 1950s and 1960s.
"I'm Free" was "lyricized" again in the 1990s, this time by Catherine O'Brien, who also provided lyrics to the Haggart tune "My Inspiration." O'Brien's version, published in 1996, retains the original title, "I'm Free."
"What's New" was the title track of a Triple Platinum 1983 album by Linda Ronstadt, one of three recordings she released backed by The Nelson Riddle Orchestra. Linda's earnest version of the song, released as the album's first single, reached the Top 40 of the Cash Box Top 100 chart and peaked at #53 on the Billboard Hot 100. It achieved far greater success at Adult Contemporary radio, where it spent several weeks in the Top Five.
- Helen Forrest with Artie Shaw Orchestra - (1939)
- Jutta Hipp - Jutta Hipp Quintet (1954, April 24)
- Helen Merrill - Helen Merrill (1954)
- Ella Fitzgerald - Like Someone in Love (1957)
- The Four Freshmen - Voices in Latin (1958)
- Frank Sinatra - Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely (1958)
- Red Garland - Bright and Breezy (1961)
- Al Hirt - The Greatest Horn in the World (1961)
- Sonny Rollins - What's New? (1962)
- John Coltrane - Ballads (1963)
- Robert Goulet - Without You (1964)
- Jack Jones - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
- Wes Montgomery - Smokin' at the Half Note (1965)
- Sonny Stitt - What's New!!!: Sonny Stitt Plays the Varitone (1966)
- Dexter Gordon with Slide Hampton - A Day in Copenhagen (1969)
- Irene Kral - Gentle Rain (piano solo by Alan Broadbent) (1977)
- Linda Ronstadt - What's New? (1983)
- Betty Carter & Carmen McRae - The Carmen McRae-Betty Carter Duets (1987)
- Karrin Allyson - Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane (2001)
- Larry Coryell - Cedars of Avalon (2002)
- Ana Paula Lopes - Meu (2005)
- Maynard Ferguson - Wow: The Formative Years (2007)
- Teddi King - 'Round Midnight (2008)
- Elvira Nikolaisen and Mathias Eick - I Concentrate on You (2013)