I Left My Heart in San Francisco
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|"Once Upon a Time"|
|Single by Tony Bennett|
|A-side||"Once Upon a Time"|
|B-side||"I Left My Heart in San Francisco"|
|Released||February 2, 1962|
|Recorded||January 23, 1962|
|Songwriter(s)||George Cory, Douglass Cross|
|Tony Bennett singles chronology|
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"I Left My Heart in San Francisco" is a popular song, written in the fall of 1953 in Brooklyn, New York, with music by George Cory and lyrics by Douglass Cross (1920–1975) and best known as the signature song of Tony Bennett.
In 1962, the song was released as a single by Bennett on Columbia Records as the b-side to "Once Upon a Time," peaked at #19 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and was also included on the album of the same name. It also reached number seven on the Easy Listening chart. The song is one of the official anthems for the city of San Francisco.
The music was written by Cory, with lyrics by Cross, about two amateur writers nostalgic for San Francisco after moving to New York.
Although the song was originally written for Claramae Turner, who often used it as an encore, she never got around to recording it. The song found its way to Tony Bennett through Ralph Sharon, Bennett's longtime accompanist and friends with the composers. Sharon brought the music along when he and Bennett were on tour and on their way to San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel.
A little-known fact about the song is that, prior to Tony Bennett hearing it, the song was pitched to Tennessee Ernie Ford, whom Claramae Turner suggested Cross take it to. Ford turned the song down, but in an ironic turn of events, later purchased a ranch in Lake County, California, owned by Cross's family.
In December 1961, in the famous "Venetian Room" at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, Tony Bennett first sang "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". In the audience that night were San Francisco mayor George Christopher and future mayor Joseph L. Alioto. From the 1960s through the 1980s, at San Francisco's premier supper club the "Venetian Room," Bennett sang the city song.
Recording and legacy
Bennett first recorded the song at CBS Studios on 30th Street on January 23, 1962; CBS released it as the b-side of "Once Upon A Time." The A-side received no attention, and DJs began flipping the record over and playing "San Francisco." It became a hit on the pop singles chart in 1962 and spent close to a year on various other charts, achieving gold record status. It then won the top prize of Grammy Award for Record of the Year, as well as for Best Male Solo Vocal Performance. In 2001 it was ranked 23rd on an RIAA/NEA list of the most historically significant Songs of the 20th Century.
It has often been performed in public by Bennett in concert as well as on special occasions, most notably in the final National Football League game at Kezar Stadium featuring the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970 NFC Championship Game, at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge in May 1987; at the reopening of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge after sections of the bridge were damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake; game three of the 2002 World Series featuring the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in San Francisco; again at game one of the 2010 World Series featuring the Giants and the Texas Rangers; and at the 2012 San Francisco Giants World Series parade and celebration in front of San Francisco City Hall on Halloween Day, October 31, 2012. Bennett's recording is played over the public address system at AT&T Park after all San Francisco Giants home game victories and was played at the end of San Francisco Bulls home games at the Cow Palace, win or lose. A statue of Tony Bennett was unveiled outside the Fairmont Hotel on 19 August 2016, in honor of his 90th birthday, the hotel performance, and the song's history with San Francisco.
Bennett has said of the song,
That song helped make me a world citizen. It allowed me to live, work and sing in any city on the globe. It changed my whole life.
In his concerts in the 2000s, Bennett typically performs the song midway through his set, after which the house lights are turned up while the audience engages in extended applause. When that finally subsides, the house lights go down and the show resumes. On November 8, 2006, Bennett performed "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He stated that his first performance of that song was on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson when the song was first released in 1962, on Johnny Carson's first night on the show. The Songwriters Hall of Fame gave Bennett the Towering Performance Award for his vocal rendition of the song.
The song has been recorded by a myriad of artists, including Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Jan & Dean, Julie London, Brenda Lee, Buddy Greco, Italian singer Mina and Dean Martin and others, with the version by rhythm and blues singer Bobby Womack making the chart for Minit Records, peaking at #48 on the Billboard R&B singles chart in 1969. In that same year, the song was adopted by the City and County of San Francisco as one of its two official anthems, the other being the title song from the 1936 film San Francisco (1936 film). Jazz instrumental versions have been recorded by Charlie Byrd, Booker Ervin and a brief bass feature by Charles Mingus. Sergio Franchi recorded an Italian-language version on his 1965 concert album for RCA Victor, Live at the Coconut Grove.. Comedian Steve Allen recorded a parody entitled "I Left My Nose in San Diego" in 1964.
- Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 27.
- Turner, Steve (January 4, 2010). "I left my heart in San Francisco: Touring the vibrant city that inspired a song". Daily Mail (Mail Online). Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- "The Fairmont Hotel Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Tony Bennett's First Performance of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco"". 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- Gary Mamorstein. The Label: The Story of Columbia Records. New York": Thunder's Mouth Press, 2007. p. 375.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-20. Retrieved 2016-08-20.
- "2003 Award and Induction Ceremony Induction Ceremonies". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
- John Bush. "Live at the Cocoanut Grove – Sergio Franchi | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
- "Steve Allen (3) – Songs From The Steve Allen Show". Discogs.com. 2015-08-10. Retrieved 2016-09-26.