Stardust (song)

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Song by Hoagy Carmichael
Published1929 by Mills Music
Composer(s)Hoagy Carmichael
Lyricist(s)Mitchell Parish

"Stardust" is a popular song composed in 1927 by Hoagy Carmichael with lyrics added by Mitchell Parish in 1929. Carmichael recorded the song, originally titled "Star Dust", at the Gennett studio in Richmond, Indiana. The "song about a song about love",[1] played in an idiosyncratic melody in medium tempo, became an American standard and is one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century with over 1,500 recordings.[2] In 2004, Carmichael's 1927 recording of the song was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.


1927 Gennett 78

According to Carmichael, the inspiration for "Stardust" (the song's original title was "Star Dust", which has long since been compounded into "Stardust")[3] came to him while he was on the campus of his alma mater, Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. He began whistling the tune, then rushed to the Book Nook, a popular student hangout, and started composing. He worked to refine the melody over the course of the next several months, likely in Bloomington or Indianapolis (sources cite various locations, and Carmichael himself liked to embellish the facts about the song's origins).[4] "Stardust" was first recorded in Richmond, Indiana, for Gennett by Carmichael with Emil Seidel and his Orchestra and the Dorsey brothers as "Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals" on October 31, 1927, as a peppy but mid-tempo jazz instrumental.[5] Carmichael said he was inspired by the improvisations of Bix Beiderbecke.[6] The tune at first attracted only moderate attention, mostly from fellow musicians, a few of whom (including Don Redman) recorded their own versions.

Mitchell Parish wrote lyrics for the song, which were published in 1929, based on his and Carmichael's ideas. A slower version had been recorded in October 1928, but the transformation came on May 16, 1930, when bandleader Isham Jones recorded it as a sentimental ballad.[7] "Stardust" is a 32-bar melody with a slightly unusual ABAC structure preceded by a 16-bar verse. Although the verse is often omitted in recordings, Frank Sinatra made a recording in 1961 of just the verse. The verse and chorus have the same final cadence, though other than that they are musically distinct.


The original sheet music publication of "Stardust" was published under the title "Star Dust" by Mills Music with a copyright date of 1929.[8] The first recording of the song (Gennett 78, 6311-B.), which was made by Hoagy Carmichael in 1927 before the writing of the song's lyrics, was titled "Stardust". Carmichael referred to his song as "Stardust" in a 1936 letter to M.B. Yarling of the Sears & Roebuck Company's Radio and Publicity Dept.[9] He also referred to the song as "Stardust" in his memoir The Stardust Road while relating the story of its composition.[10] In his book Stardust Melodies: The Biography of Twelve of America's Most Popular Songs, Will Friedwald states, "the correct title is given as two words, 'Star Dust'".[11]

Cover versions[edit]

Glenn Miller and the AAFTC Orchestra recording issued as V-Disc 65A in December 1943


The 1927 recording on Gennett by Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1995. In 1999, "Stardust" was included in the NPR 100, a list compiled by National Public Radio of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century.[22] In 2004, Carmichael's 1927 recording of the song was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress for the National Recording Registry. Attempting to explain the song's "eternal popularity", Carmichael biographer Richard M. Sudhalter credits "some combination of young Carmichael's heartland upbringing, Bix's uniquely bardic sensibility, and the unself-conscious emotional directness that characterizes much non-urban American pop music."[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sudhalter 2002, p.XI. See also p.123: "..."Star Dust" is obviously a song about a song—a genre relatively rare in American popular music. There had been such songs before: Irving Berlin's 1909 "That Mesmerizing Mendelssohn Tune" (about the great German composer's famed Spring Song) is one example among many. But none had been a major song about a song—particularly a song that didn't actually exist. This was new."
  2. ^ "Hoagy Carmichael: 'Stardust Melodies'". 12 March 2008. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Hoagy Carmichael Collection". Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University. Retrieved 2007-06-17.
  4. ^ Sudhalter 2002, pp. 105-106.
  5. ^ Brian Rust; Malcolm Shaw (2002). Jazz and Ragtime Records (1897–1942): A-K. Mainspring Press. p. 298. ISBN 978-0-9671819-2-9.
  6. ^ "Brief Biography of Hoagy Carmichael". Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  7. ^ Sudhalter 2002, p.139
  8. ^ Carmichael, Hoagy and Mitchell Parish. "Star Dust". New York: Mills Music, 1929
  9. ^ Carmichael, Hoagy (12 November 1936). "Letter from Carmichael, Hoagy, to Yarling, M.B., Radio and Publicity Dept., Sears & Roebuck". Bloomington, Indiana. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  10. ^ Carmichael, Hoagy (1999). The Stardust Road & Sometimes I Wonder: The Autobiography of Hoagy Carmichael. New York: Da Capo Press. p. 123.
  11. ^ Friedwald, Will (2002). Stardust Melodies: The Biography of Twelve of America's Most Popular Songs. New York: Pantheon Books. p. 3.
  12. ^ "RCA Victor Records in the 20-2000 to 20-2999 series". Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. New York City: Oxford University Press. p. 398. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  14. ^ Armstrong, Louis. Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man 1923–1934. Columbia/Legacy 57176, 1994. Insert booklet, p. 26
  15. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Standards". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  16. ^ Newsom, Jim. "Fallen Angel". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  17. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  18. ^ NASA (May 11, 2009). "STS-97 Wakeup Calls". NASA. Retrieved July 31, 2009.
  19. ^ Rick Anderson. "A Bird in the Hand". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  20. ^ Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854. Tape 2, side B.
  21. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Mitch Miller". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  22. ^ "The 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
  23. ^ Richard M. Sudhalter (17 September 2003). Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-516898-3.


External links[edit]