Stardust (song)

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For other songs of similar name, see Stardust.
"Star Dust"
Song by Hoagy Carmichael's orchestra
Published 1927
Composer Hoagy Carmichael
Lyricist Mitchell Parish
Recorded by Many artists

"Stardust" is an American popular song composed in 1927 by Hoagy Carmichael with lyrics added in 1929 by Mitchell Parish. Carmichael first recorded the song, originally titled "Star Dust", at the Gennett Records studio in Richmond, Indiana. The song, "a 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 total recordings.[2] In 2004, Carmichael's original 1927 recording of the song was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. "Stardust" is considered by many the finest song ever written.


1927 Gennett 78, 6311-B.

According to Carmichael, the inspiration for "Stardust" (the song's original title was "Star Dust", which has long 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 Records (Gennett 6311) 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. Carmichael said he was inspired by the types of improvisations made by Bix Beiderbecke.[5] The tune at first attracted only moderate attention, mostly from fellow musicians, a few of whom (including Don Redman) recorded their own versions of Carmichael's tune. (The Redman arrangement was issued on OKeh as by The Chocolate Dandies, but was in reality the moonlighting McKinney's Cotton Pickers who were exclusive Victor recording artists.)

Mitchell Parish wrote lyrics for the song, based on his own and Carmichael's ideas, which were published in 1929. A slower version had been recorded in October 1928, but the real transformation came on May 16, 1930, when bandleader Isham Jones recorded it as a sentimental ballad.[6] “Stardust” is a 32-bar melody with a slightly unusual ABAC structure. It is preceded by a 16-bar verse (which some performers omit, regrettably,because one glance at them as Nat King Cole sings it, makes it abundantly obvious that the introductory lines are lines of pure poetry). 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.[7] The first recording of the song (Gennett 78, 6311-B.), which was made by Hoagy Carmichael in 1927 prior to 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.[8] Carmichael also refers to the song as "Stardust" in his memoir "The Stardust Road" while relating his version of the story of its composition.[9] Popular music historian Will Friedwald, in his book "Stardust Melodies: The Biography of Twelve of America's Most Popular Songs," states that "the correct title is given as two words, 'Star Dust'".[10]


Jones's recording became the first of many hit versions of the tune. Young baritone sensation Bing Crosby released a version in 1931, and by the following year, over two dozen bands had recorded "Stardust." It was then covered by almost every prominent band of that era. Versions have been recorded by Artie Shaw,[11] Billy Butterfield, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, (on the 1956 album Dave Brubeck Quartet)[12] Tommy Dorsey, Tex Beneke with The Glenn Miller Orchestra (recorded in New York City on February 1, 1947 and released by RCA Victor Records as catalogue number 20-2016B[13] and by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalogue number BD 5968), Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Jan Garber, Fumio Nanri, Dizzy Gillespie, Nat King Cole (considered by many to be the best) on his 1957 album "Love is the Thing", Mel Tormé (which is considered to be second best), Connie Francis, Jean Sablon, Keely Smith, Terumasa Hino, Harry Connick Jr, Hank Crawford, Ella Fitzgerald, Olavi Virta, The Peanuts, Django Reinhardt, Barry Manilow, Art Tatum, John Coltrane, Pat Boone, Nino Tempo & April Stevens, Earl Grant, Willie Nelson, Billy Ward and His Dominoes, George Benson, Mina, Ken Hirai, Al Hirt, Berl Olswanger on his 1953 album Berl Olswanger at the Piano, Los Hombres Calientes, Mireille Mathieu, The Shadows and many others. Glenn Miller also released a recording of the song on V-Disc, No. 65A, with a spoken introduction recorded with the AAFTC Orchestra which was released in December 1943. Billy Ward and His Dominoes, in 1957, had a #12 hit with the song on the Billboard Pop chart which is one of the earliest R'nB/Rock & Roll recordings in true stereo. It became a gold record. The Dominoes' version may be the most famous and popular version. The Artie Shaw version of 1941, with memorable solos by Billy Butterfield (trumpet) and Jack Jenney (trombone) is likely the favorite Big Band version.[11] Ringo Starr recorded a version for his first solo album, Sentimental Journey, in 1970, after the breakup of The Beatles.[14] Sergio Franchi covered the song on his 1964 RCA Victor album The Exciting Voice of Sergio Franchi. Rod Stewart recorded the song for his album Stardust: The Great American Songbook Volume III (2004). Katie Melua recorded a cover on her EP Nine Million Bicycles in 2005. Michael Bublé recorded it for his album Crazy Love, released in 2009.

Certain recorded variations on the song have become notable. Armstrong recorded "Stardust" on November 4, 1931, and on an alternate take inserted the lyric 'oh, memory' just before an instrumental break. This version became prized over the issued take among jazz collectors, including Carmichael.[15] Thirty years later, Sinatra recorded just the verse on his November 20, 1961 recording for his album Sinatra and Strings - much to Carmichael's initial chagrin, although Hoagy is said to have changed his mind upon hearing the recording.

The early portion of the 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre included a rendition of the song played by the fictional "Ramón Raquello and his Orchestra". The actual band performing in the broadcast featured, among others, a young Mitch Miller.[16]

In 1993, guitarist Larry Coryell covered the song on his album "Fallen Angel."[17][18]

Les Deux Love Orchestra included their version of Stardust on the 2001 album, Music From Les Deux Cafés.

Jazz vocalist Stevie Holland covered it on the album Restless Willow (2004).

In 2006, David Benoit covered the song from his Standards album Standards.[19]

While the song has been traditionally performed as a ballad, vocalist Kalil Wilson recorded an uptempo version of the song for his 2009 album, Easy to Love.

Willie Nelson's cover of the song was used to wake up the crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-97 on their second flight day.[20]

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

A 1953/54 version by Eddie Cochran was released in 1997 on the album Rockin' It Country Style.

In 2007 The Japonize Elephants' Evan Farrell recorded Stardust which was released on the 2012 album Melodie Fantastique.

Pop culture[edit]

The song is also used at a critical moment during Woody Allen's Stardust Memories. The song was used in the television series Cold Case.

Nat King Cole's version of Stardust was the lead-in song for the movie "My Favorite Year", and was an integral part of a poignant scene in the romantic comedy "Sleepless in Seattle".


The original 1927 recording on Gennett Records 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.[21] In 2000, Swedish music reviewers voted it as "the tune of the century", with Kurt Weill's "Mack the Knife" as second.[citation needed] In 2004, Carmichael's original 1927 recording of the song was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.

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. ^ National Public Radio. "Hoagy Carmichael: 'Stardust Melodies'". Jazz Profiles. NPR Music. 
  3. ^ "Hoagy Carmichael Collection". Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  4. ^ Sudhalter 2002, pp. 105-106.
  5. ^ "Brief Biography of Hoagy Carmichael". Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  6. ^ Sudhalter 2002, p.139
  7. ^ Carmichael, Hoagy and Mitchell Parish. Star Dust. New York: Mills Music, 1929
  8. ^ Carmichael, Hoagy. Letter from Carmichael, Hoagy to Yarling, M.B., Radio and Publicity Dept., Sears & Roebuck. 12 November 1936 [post marked]. Carmichael mss., 1921-1955 . Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington.
  9. ^ Carmichael, Hoagy. The Stardust Road & Sometimes I Wonder : The Autobiography of Hoagy Carmichael. [New York] : Da Capo Press, 1999. See p.123.
  10. ^ Friedwald, Will. Stardust Melodies: The Biography of Twelve of America's Most Popular Songs. New York : Pantheon Books, 2002. see p.3.
  11. ^ a b 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.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "RCA Victor Records in the 20-2000 to 20-2999 series". Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  14. ^ Miles, Barry (1998). The Beatles a Diary: An Intimate Day by Day History. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780711963153. 
  15. ^ Armstrong, Louis. Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man 1923-1934. Columbia/Legacy 57176, 1994. Insert booklet, p. 26
  16. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Mitch Miller > Biography". allmusic. Retrieved August 3, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Fallen Angel overview". 
  18. ^ "Email Jazz News". All About Jazz. 
  19. ^ "Standards overview". 
  20. ^ NASA (May 11, 2009). "STS-97 Wakeup Calls". NASA. Retrieved July 31, 2009. 
  21. ^ "The 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 


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