Rota's score for The Godfather had been nominated for a 1973 Academy Award for Best Original Score. However, it was disqualified from consideration when the Academy learned Rota had used a more comedic version of the song for the film Fortunella (1958). Nonetheless, Rota's score for The Godfather Part II won the 1974 Academy Award for Best Score, despite the fact that it contained the same piece.
The first version of the song to reach any of the charts in Billboard magazine was "Love Theme from The Godfather" by pianist Roger Williams. His instrumental recording debuted in the issue dated April 1, 1972, and "bubbled under" the Hot 100 for five weeks, peaking at number 116, and another piano rendition by Ferrante and Teicher got as high as number 28 Easy Listening during its four-week chart run that began in the April 8 issue. The version that the film's music director, Carlo Savina, and his orchestra recorded for the soundtrack first charted on the Hot 100 in the April 22 issue and made it to number 66 during a nine-week chart run. It also reached number 24 on the Easy Listening chart during its three weeks there that began in the May 20 issue.
The Andy Williams version of "Speak Softly Love" also made its first appearance in the April 8 issue and reached number 34 on the Hot 100 during its 11 weeks there and number seven Easy Listening over the course of 12 weeks. A recording of the song by Al Martino debuted on both of those charts in the April 29 issue and peaked at number 80 during its four weeks on the Hot 100 and number 24 on the Easy Listening chart, where it also spent four weeks.
In the UK Williams began a run of nine weeks on August 5 of that year that led to a number 42 showing.