Straighten Up and Fly Right

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"Straighten Up and Fly Right" is a 1943 song written by Nat King Cole and Irving Mills and performed by The King Cole Trio. It was the trio's most popular single reaching number one on the Harlem Hit Parade for ten nonconsecutive weeks. The single also peaked at number nine on the pop charts.[1] "Straighten Up and Fly Right" also reached number one for six nonconsecutive weeks on the Most Played Jukebox Hillbilly Records.[2]

The song was based on a black folk tale that Cole's father had used as a theme for one of his sermons. In the tale, a buzzard takes different animals for a joy ride. When he gets hungry, he throws them off on a dive and eats them for dinner. A monkey who had observed this trick goes for a ride; he wraps his tail around the buzzard's neck and gives the buzzard a big surprise by nearly choking him to death.

The song was a part of the score of the 1943 film Here Comes Elmer.[3]

The song was used in the 1995 HBO historical war drama The Tuskegee Airmen and the title was quoted by the pilots when going into battle.

The song was used in the season 4 episode of Tales from the Crypt, "Split Personality".

The song was used in NBC's drama series This Is Us, "The best washing machine in the whole world". Rebecca Pearson (played by Mandy Moore) sang the song during rehearsal.

The song was most recently (2019) used in episode 1 of George Clooney's re-tooling of Catch 22 as a miniseries for Hulu, the U.S.-based subscription video on demand service.

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 126.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 85.
  3. ^ The New York Times
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 126.