Misty (song)

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Misty - Johnny Mathis.jpg
Artwork for US 7-inch single
Single by Johnny Mathis
from the album Heavenly
B-side"The Story of Our Love"
ReleasedSeptember 14, 1959
RecordedApril 9, 1959
StudioColumbia 30th Street Studio, New York City
Songwriter(s)Johnny Burke, Erroll Garner
Producer(s)Mitch Miller, Al Ham[1]
Johnny Mathis singles chronology
"Small World"
"The Best of Everything"

"Misty" is a jazz standard written in 1954 by pianist Erroll Garner. He composed it as an instrumental in the traditional 32-bar format and recorded it for the album Contrasts (1955). Lyrics were added later by Johnny Burke. It became the signature song of Johnny Mathis, appearing on his 1959 album Heavenly and reaching number 12 on the U.S. Pop Singles chart later that year. The song has been recorded many times, including versions by Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.


Erroll Garner was inspired to write "Misty" on a flight from San Francisco to Chicago which passed through a thunderstorm: as the plane descended into O'Hare, Garner looked through the window to see a rainbow glowing through a haze, and was moved to begin composing "Misty" on the spot, striking imaginary piano keys on his knees as he hummed the notes he imagined (causing his neighboring passenger to summon a flight attendant to assist the apparently ill Garner).[2]

Johnny Mathis version[edit]


Mathis heard Garner play the song, and told him that he would love to sing it if Garner had lyrics for it. Accounts differ as to whether Garner[3] or Garner's business manager, Martha Glaser, was in attendance when Mathis later recorded the song.[4]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly singles[edit]

Chart (1959–60) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 12


Country Provider Certification
United Kingdom BPI Silver
United States RIAA Gold

Play Misty for Me[edit]

Although there were already several released versions,[3] the Mathis version inspired Clint Eastwood to use the instrumental in his 1971 film Play Misty for Me, a low-budget film that proved to be a box-office success. Eastwood, a fan of Mathis, ended up paying a nominal fee for the Garner recording in his film.

Ray Stevens version[edit]

Misty - Ray Stevens.jpg
Single by Ray Stevens
from the album Misty
ReleasedApril 1975
Recordedc. February 1975
Songwriter(s)Erroll Garner
Producer(s)Ray Stevens
Ray Stevens singles chronology
"Moonlight Special"
"Indian Love Call"

Background and release[edit]

In 1975, singer Ray Stevens released an up-tempo country rendition of this song. It is the title track of his twelfth studio album. Stevens recounted that the song was recorded on the second take when experimenting in the studio. His version won a Grammy in the category of Music Arrangement of the Year.[5] This version peaked at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached number two in the United Kingdom.

Chart performance[edit]

Other notable versions[edit]


  1. ^ (1993) The Music of Johnny Mathis: A Personal Collection by Johnny Mathis [CD booklet]. New York: Columbia Records C4K-48932.
  2. ^ Brown, Mick (2007). Smoketown: the untold story of the other Black renaissance. NYC: Simon & Schuster. p. 226. ISBN 978-1-5011-2239-2.
  3. ^ a b Johnny Mathis interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  4. ^ "Making "Misty": The Legendary Johnny Mathis Recording (2010)". Morningsonmaplestreet.com. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  5. ^ Ray Stevens - About "Misty" and Live Performance on YouTube
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 229.
  7. ^ Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-02. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-10-06. Retrieved 2016-05-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Top Selling Singles of 1975 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Nztop40.co.nz. 1975-12-31. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  10. ^ "Britain's best selling records of '75". Record Mirror. London. January 10, 1976. p. 12. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  11. ^ "Pop Singles" Billboard December 27, 1975: Talent in Action-8
  12. ^ Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 269. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  13. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  14. ^ "Bing Crosby : With All My Heart". AllMusic. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  15. ^ "Aretha Franklin : Yeah!!! In Person with Her Quartet". AllMusic. Retrieved August 1, 2020.

External links[edit]