Indian Summer (Victor Herbert song)

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"Indian Summer" is a jazz standard originally written as a piano piece by the prolific composer Victor Herbert. Al Dubin wrote lyrics for the tune in 1939, twenty years after Herbert wrote the tune.

Herbert composed the tune in 1919, but it did not become a standard until much later, after the lyrics were added. Sheet music exists for Everett Hoagland and Don Reid versions, dating to 1934 and 1939 respectively, but the provenance of the second of these, at least, is doubtful, as Reid may not even have formed an orchestra until 1944.[1]

Dubin wrote his lyrics for the song in 1939, and in the same year Tommy Dorsey's orchestra had a number one hit with it on the Billboard singles chart .[1]


It was also recorded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra on November 5, 1939. Miller's version with vocalist Ray Eberle charted in 1940 for ten weeks, rising to number eight.[2]

Also in 1940, Sidney Bechet recorded one of the first jazz versions of the tune, performing it on soprano sax. Another significant version is Coleman Hawkins' from 1945.

Perhaps some of Indian Summer's success as a jazz tune is that it "bears no European mark", being a "thirty-two measure song with the form of A-B-A-C. "The melody sings marvelously throughout without a single cliche or let down," composer and critic Alec Wilder wrote in American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900–1950 (1972), despite admitting that he was generally no fan of Victor Herbert.[3]

Indian Summer has been recorded by, among others, Bing Crosby (recorded February 7, 1951 for Decca Records),[4] the Gene Krupa Orchestra, Ginny Simms, Paul Desmond, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra with Duke Ellington (for the 1968 album Francis A. & Edward K.), and Tony Bennett (for the 1992 tribute album to Sinatra titled "Perfectly Frank"). There are many other vocal versions, and in instrumental versions for saxophone, piano, and guitar.

In other recordings, instrumental versions have been covered by Joe Puma with sideman Bill Evans.[5]


  1. ^ a b Burlingame, Sandra, Indian Summer (1919), retrieved 2009-02-13
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 310. ISBN 978-0-89820-083-6.
  3. ^ Wilder, Alec (1990) American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950, Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  5. ^ The Sideman Years (feat. Dick Garcia, 2011)