Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
|"(When Your Heart's on Fire)
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"
|Single by Gertrude Niesen
(with Ray Sinatra and his Orchestra)
|Recorded||October 13, 1933|
|Writer(s)||Otto Harbach, Jerome Kern|
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is a show tune written by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for their 1933 musical Roberta. The song was sung in the original Broadway show by Tamara Drasin. Its first recorded performance was by Gertrude Niesen, who recorded the song with orchestral direction from Ray Sinatra, Frank Sinatra's second-cousin, on October 13, 1933. Niesen's recording of the song was released by Victor, catalog# VE B 24454, with the b-side, "Jealousy", featuring Isham Jones and his Orchestra. The song was later reprised by Irene Dunne, who performed it in the original 1935 film adaptation of the musical, co-starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Randolph Scott. The song was also included in the 1952 remake of Roberta, Lovely to Look At, in which it was performed by Kathryn Grayson.
The song has been covered by numerous artists; the first being Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra, with a vocal performance from Bob Lawrence. This version of the song topped music charts in 1934. Other early covers of the song include that of the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, who released their contemporary version in 1938, with His Master's Voice. The b-side to Dorsey's single was "Night And Day" During the mid-late 1930s Larry Adler and Henry Hall recorded live radio performances of the song on BBC radio broadcasts; Adler's rendition, a complex, syncopated, harmonic arrangement, and Hall's, a full orchestral performance with the BBC orchestra and a vocal performance from Dan Donovan. Henry Hall's version was also released as a 10" single. Art Tatum said in an introduction to a 1955 performance of the song that he performed "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" in the 1930s, contributing to the song's inevitable popularity. However, it is unclear if a recording of the song was ever made by Tatum during that decade; if a recording was made it may not survive to the present day.
In 1941, the Benny Goodman Orchestra first performed the song during recorded radio performances with Helen Forrest. After Forrest's choice to leave the ensemble during the early part of 1941, Goodman began performing the song with Forrest's replacement, Peggy Lee, whose recording, from a Mutual sustaining broadcast, was later released on a double long play album; named Benny And Sid "Roll 'Em", the album consisted of an assortment of live radio broadcasts by the group. Glenn Miller conducted his rendition of the song at Abbey Road Studios in 1944. His orchestral version of the song was not released until 1995, due to his sudden death in 1944. On October 30, 1946, Nat "King" Cole recorded the song with Oscar Moore playing guitar and Johnny Miller playing bass as the "King Cole Trio". Cole's recording was made during a live WMCA radio broadcast from New York. Later, in 1957, Cole performed the song live on his television variety show, The Nat King Cole Show. Though not released until some years later, Harry Belafonte recorded the song in 1949 with jazz saxophonist Zoot Sims, making it one of the first songs Belafonte ever recorded; Sims performance in the song would later be parodied by the character inspired by him, on episode 2.02 of The Muppet Show, which aired on December 10, 1977.
In 1950, artists Charlie Parker and Jo Stafford both released versions of the song on their respective albums, Bird at St. Nick's and Autumn in New York. Thelonious Monk released the song in 1954 on his album Monk. On his 1955 album, Clifford Brown with Strings, Clifford Brown released a cover of the song. In 1956, Vic Damone covered this song, with a very different arrangement, as a part of his album That Towering Feeling!. Damone's version became one of his most famous songs. Dinah Washington released the song in 1956, on her album, Dinah!. Jeri Southern named her 1957 album after a lyric from the song, "When Your Heart's On Fire"; the album also features her version of the song. The same year as Nat King Cole's televised performance of the song, Polly Bergen performed the song during the series premiere of her variety show, The Polly Bergen Show, originally airing September 21, 1957. In 1958, Sarah Vaughan released her rendition on her album, No Count Sarah.
Eartha Kitt versions
In a series of recording sessions with Henri René and his Orchestra in 1952, sessions that garnered the tracks for her first five albums, RCA Victor Presents Eartha Kitt, That Bad Eartha (2xEP), That Bad Eartha (LP), Down To Eartha, and Thursday's Child, as well as her hit single, "Santa Baby", Eartha Kitt first recorded "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" for RCA Victor. Kitt's recording of the song was first released on her 1954 album That Bad Eartha. A complete list of orchestra members used during the Henri René recording sessions can be read here. In the early 1990s, the song was re-recorded by Kitt as part of her work with a small jazz combo in Germany, in a recording session arranged by brothers Rolf Kühn and Joachim Kühn. These recordings were preserved by the 1998 release of Thinking Jazz. Kitt re-recorded the song, again, for the release of her MAC Cosmetics Smoke Signals collection. The new recording of the song was played at all MAC locations carrying the collection for the month. In addition she performed the song in a music video which was showcased on the MAC website the same month.
The Platters version
|"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"|
|Single by The Platters|
|from the album Remember When?|
|B-side||"No Matter What You Are"|
|Writer(s)||Otto Harbach, Jerome Kern|
|The Platters singles chronology|
Possibly the most well-known version of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" was recorded in 1958 by The Platters, for their album Remember When?. The group's cover became a number one hit in the US, on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart. In 1959 the song went on to peak at number three on the Rhythm and Blues chart. On the UK charts the song spent five weeks at the top during February and March of that same year. The Platters' producer, Buck Ram, reported that Harbach "congratulated Buck Ram and the Platters for reviving his song with taste." Jerome Kern's widow, on the other hand, disliked the recording so much she considered taking legal action to prevent its distribution.
- Chart performance
|United States Billboard Hot 100||1|
|United States Billboard Hot R&B||3|
Margaret Whiting released the song on her 1960 album Margaret Whiting Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook. In 1961, Cannonball Adderley released the song on his album African Waltz. Bandleader Ray Conniff first released his arrangement of the song in 1962, on his double album The Ray Conniff Hi-Fi Companion; it became one of the signature songs of his career. Saxophone player Boots Randolph released an instrumental version of the song on the B-side of his LP Yakety Sax in 1963. On February 2, 1964, Judy Garland performed the song in a comical performance on the nineteenth episode of her show, The Judy Garland Show. In her performance she sings longingly, sitting at a small table, as the house around her burns down; fire fighters hack down the door behind her as she sits unfazed singing to the camera. A number of fire fighters flee up the staircase, for which smoke billows down, in an attempt to douse the fire. When their attempts fail, they proceed to empty the room of its contents, presumably running them to the street. Eventually, after the room has been completely emptied, one man returns to save Garland; he grabs her by her waist, throwing her over his shoulder. Garland is still clutching the back of the chair she once sat on, now dragging it across the room as the fire fighter carries her out. Throughout the scene, she never stops singing.
A remake of the song by British band Blue Haze, formed by Johnny Arthey and Phil Swern, also became popular; it was released as a lead single in 1972, and the following year on their eponymous album, Blue Haze. In 1973 the group Byron Lee and the Dragonaires released a version of the song on their studio album Reggae Round The World. Bryan Ferry recorded a quavering version of the song in 1974 on the album Another Time, Another Place, which reached number 17 on the UK charts in September 1974. Penny McLean, of the West German band Silver Convention, released her version, as a solo artist, in 1975, on her album Lady Bump. In 1982, country singer Narvel Felts released the song as a 7-inch single; it charted at number eighty-four in the US on Billboards's country chart. Freddie Mercury is rumored to have recorded the song for an unreleased album of cover versions in 1986. The only cover Mercury is confirmed to have finished from the project is "The Great Pretender"; all other recordings are reported to be no more than fragments. A cover of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" was released by Patti Austin in 1988 on her number-four jazz album The Real Me. In 1989, the same year Dinah Washington's rendition of the song was used in the film Kill Me Again, J. D. Souther performed the song on stage in the film Always.
In 1993, Elaine Paige released a version of the song on her album Romance & the Stage. Jerry Garcia, who was named after Jerome Kern, released a music video in the early 1990s covering the song, with actress Ashley Judd sitting in the background listening. Garcia's rendition of the song was later used in the independent film Smoke, released in 1995. The film also had an official soundtrack release which included The Jerry Garcia Band's version. David Sanborn released a cover of the song in 1995, on his album, Pearls. John Alford released the song as a CD single from his eponymous debut album in 1996; the single peaked at number thirteen on the UK Singles Chart. In the 1999 film, Tea With Mussolini, Cher's character sings the last verse of the song, tenderly. Kurt Elling covered the song on his 2000 live album, Live in Chicago; the album was nominated for a Grammy the following year for Best Vocal Jazz Album. Clare Fischer and Bert van den Brink released their version of the song on their joint album, Bert van den Brink Invites Clare Fischer, in 2001. The song has also been translated into Lithuanian by Vytautas Bložė around 2003; in Lithuanian the song is "Žiedų Pūga". Alison Jiear recorded a version of the song with new orchestral arrangements written by Mychael Danna in 2004 for the film Being Julia, the song was also featured in the official soundtrack for the film. Deborah Cox released her cover of the song on her 2007 jazz album, Destination Moon; Cox recorded the track in a live recording session with a forty-piece orchestra. In 2008, on his album, Let It Be Me, Jason Donovan covered the song. Barbra Streisand recorded the song for her thirty-second album, Love Is the Answer, released on September 29, 2009. Johnny Dankworth covered the song on his 2010 album, Too Cool For The Blues.
List of notable recordings
|Cannonball Adderley||1961||African Waltz|
|Larry Adler||1934-37||live radio broadcast from London|
|John Alford||1996||CD single|
|Patti Austin||1988||The Real Me|
|Harry Belafonte (with Zoot Sims)||rec:1949||Unreleased cut from either Close Your Eyes or Ballads by Belafonte.|
|Polly Bergen||1957||The Polly Bergen Show (episode 1)|
|Blue Haze (Johnny Arthey and Phil Swern)||1972||Blue Haze|
|Sierra Boggess||2013||Awakening: Live at 54 Below|
|Richard Clayderman||2003||Romantic Nights|
|Clifford Brown||1955||Clifford Brown with Strings|
|Byron Lee and the Dragonaires||1973||Reggae Round The World|
|Cher (last verse only)||1999||Tea With Mussolini (film)|
|Nat King Cole||1946||WMCA broadcast (radio)|
|1957||The Nat King Cole Show|
|Ray Conniff||1962||The Ray Conniff Hi-Fi Companion|
|Deborah Cox||2007||Destination Moon|
|Vic Damone||1956||That Towering Feeling!|
|Johnny Dankworth||2010||Too Cool For The Blues|
|Jason Donovan||2008||Let It Be Me|
|Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra||1938||10" single|
|Kurt Elling||2000||Live in Chicago|
|Narvel Felts||1982||7" single|
|Bryan Ferry||1974||Another Time, Another Place|
|Clare Fischer and Bert van den Brink||2001||Bert van den Brink Invites Clare Fischer|
|Serge Gainsbourg||1975||Rock Around the Bunker|
|Judy Garland||1964||The Judy Garland Show (episode 19)|
|Benny Goodman Orchestra (with Helen Forrest)||1940–41||original release is unclear; re-released to multiple compilation albums|
|Benny Goodman Orchestra (with Peggy Lee)||1941||Mutual sustaining broadcast (radio)|
|Benny And Sid "Roll 'Em"  (a collection of live radio performances)|
|Henry Hall and the BBC Orchestra (with Dan Donovan)||1934-38||BBC Broadcast (radio)|
|"Hannibal" Marvin Peterson (as a member of New York Unit)||1992||Now's The Time|
|Coleman Hawkins||1962||On Broadway|
|Engelbert Humperdinck||1995||Love Unchained|
|The Jerry Garcia Band||1995||Smoke (Original Soundtrack)|
|Alison Jiear||2004||Being Julia (Original Soundtrack)|
|Kraft Music Hall broadcast (radio)|
|Vytautas Juozapaitis (Lithuanian translation "Žiedų Pūga")||2004||Negaliu Nemylėti|
|Eartha Kitt||1954||That Bad Eartha|
|rec:1991||Thinking Jazz (1998)|
|2007||MAC Cosmetics Smoke Signals collection promotion|
|Penny McLean||1975||Lady Bump|
|George Melachrino (as The Melachrino Strings and Orchestra)||1961||The Music Of Jerome Kern|
|Freddie Mercury||rec:1986||rumored recording made for an album of cover versions|
|Glenn Miller||rec:1944||Missing Chapters, Vol. 5: The Complete Abbey Road
Recordings (recording not released until 1995)
|Nana Mouskouri||1962||Nana Mouskouri in New York (The Girl from Greece Sings)|
|Gertrude Niesen (with Ray Sinatra and his Orchestra)||1933||10" single|
|Elaine Paige||1993||Romance & the Stage|
|Charlie Parker||1950||Bird at St. Nick's|
|The Platters||1958||Remember When?|
|Boots Randolph||1963||Yakety Sax|
|JD Souther||1989||Always (film)|
|Jeri Southern||1957||When Your Heart's On Fire|
|Jo Stafford||1950||Autumn in New York|
|Barbra Streisand||2009||Love Is The Answer|
|Art Tatum||1930s||unrecorded or lost recordings|
|1955||live radio broadcast|
|1965||Great Jazz Pianists (Oscar Peterson / Erroll Garner / Art Tatum)|
|Sarah Vaughan||1958||No Count Sarah|
|Caetano Veloso||2004||A Foreign Sound|
|Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra (with Bob Lawrence)||1934||10" single|
|Margaret Whiting||1960||Margaret Whiting Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook|
|Timi Yuro||1981||All Alone Am I|
|Zoot and Rowlf||1977||The Muppet Show (episode 2.02: "Zero Mostel")|
- Other recordings
In popular culture
The song has been featured in several films including:
- Roberta (1935), performed by Irene Dunne's character
- Lovely to Look At (1952), performed by Kathryn Grayson's character
- The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), performed by The Platters
- American Graffiti (1973), performed by The Platters
- Night of the Creeps (1986), performed by The Platters
- The Terrorizers (1986)
- Kill Me Again (1989), performed by Dinah Washington
- Always (1989), performed by J.D. Souther
- Smoke (1995), performed by Jerry Garcia
- Tea With Mussolini (1999), performed by Cher's character
- Hearts in Atlantis (2001), performed by The Platters with Mychael Danna
- Being Julia (2004), performed by Alison Jiear with Mychael Danna
- Traumschiff Surprise – Periode 1 (2004), performed by The Platters
- Three Times (2005), features significantly in both the plot and soundtrack
- Blue Valentine (2010), performed by The Platters
- 45 Years (2015), performed by The Platters
- The Polly Bergen Show (1957), Polly Bergen sings the song during the series premiere of her NBC variety show, it originally aired September 21, 1957.
- The Nat King Cole Show (1957), Nat King Cole performed the song during an episode of his television show.
- The Morecambe and Wise Show (1971), the song was performed by Shirley Bassey, with assistance (in the form of well-meaning but less-than-competent stagehands) from the two comedians.
- The Muppet Show (1977), the song was performed by the characters Zoot and Rowlf on episode 2.02, Zero Mostel.
- 90 Days, Time to Love (2006), used as background music throughout the Korean drama.
- Mad Men (2007), "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is the title of the pilot episode of the AMC TV series which aired July 19, 2007.
- Criminal Minds (2012), The Platters version of the song was featured in a 2012 episode of the show, entitled "Heathridge Manor".
- Endeavour (2014), in the episode "Sway", episode 2.03, which is set in 1965 Oxford, one victim's "fancy man" is given a cigarette lighter which she has engraved with the words "They asked me how I knew." Upon learning of this, Endeavour's mentor, Fred Thursday, immediately responds: "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes."
Alan Sherman in 1961, sang a parody version entitled "Smog Gets in Your Eyes"
In Cake's song, "Wheels", from their 2004 album, Pressure Chief, the song is referenced in the lyrics: "In a seedy karaoke bar... there's a Japanese man in a business suit singing 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes'".
In other uses
In 1943, Giuliana Camerino and her husband fled Italy to escape the persecution of Jews in Italy and returned in 1945, when Giuliana launched her fashion house, Roberta di Camerino. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" was the last song the Camerinos danced to before becoming refugees, so Giuliana named her fashion house after the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film as a reminder of happier times.
- List of 1930s jazz standards
- List of number-one singles in Australia during the 1950s
- List of number-one singles from the 1950s (UK)
- List of Hot 100 number-one singles of 1959 (U.S.)
- List of number-one hits of 1959 (Italy)
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