Swinging on a Star

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"Swinging on a Star"
Single by Bing Crosby with the Williams Brothers Quartet and John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra
from the album Selections from Going My Way
Format7-inch, 10-inch
GenreTraditional pop
Songwriter(s)Jimmy Van Heusen
Johnny Burke

"Swinging on a Star" is an American pop standard with music composed by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Johnny Burke.[1] It was introduced by Bing Crosby in the 1944 film Going My Way, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song that year,[1][2] and has been recorded by numerous artists since then. In 2004 it finished at #37 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.


Songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen was at Crosby’s house one evening for dinner, and to discuss a song for the film project Going My Way. During the meal one of the children began complaining about how he didn’t want to go to school the next day. The singer turned to his son and said to him, "If you don’t go to school, you might grow up to be a mule." Van Heusen thought this clever rebuke would make a good song for the film.[2] He pictured Crosby, who played a priest, talking to a group of children acting much the same way as his own child had acted that night. Van Heusen took the idea to his partner lyricist Johnny Burke, who approved. They wrote the song.[3]


The first recording of "Swinging on a Star", with Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra, took place in Los Angeles on February 7, 1944, and was released as Decca Records on Disc No. 18597 paired with "Going My Way". The song topped the USA charts in 1944 and Australian charts in 1945. The Williams Brothers Quartet, including a young Andy Williams, sang backup vocals behind Crosby.[3]

Other notable recordings:

In 1989 Laurie Anderson quoted some lines in the song "Monkey's Paw" on her CD Strange Angels.[citation needed]

In TV and film[edit]

  • 1947: The song was featured in the Little Lulu cartoon, Bout with a Trout. The cartoon's voice actors sang the song while Bing Crosby recorded bits of it with Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna.
  • 1987: A new adaptation based particularly on the 1963 Big Dee Irvin & Little Eva version was used as the theme song to the American television series Out of this World. The 1st chorus asks the viewer if "they rather to go to earth," and the verse sings about an "earth creature" and it's lyriced as if the audience were aliens themselves.
  • 1988: A short stop motion puppet animation, of the version by Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva, featuring by Stop Motion Ltd, is broadcast by the BBC.[5]
  • 1991: The song is used as a timing device in the movie Hudson Hawk. The movie incorrectly refers to its length as 5:32 and the verses are sung out of order.[6]


The song was parodied in a The Far Side cartoon, which depicted a man-turned-pig saying to his wife, "Hey! So I made the wrong decision! [referring to the part of the song which says "Or would you rather be a pig"]... But you know, I really wasn't sure I wanted to swing on a star, carry moonbeams home in a jar!"

In 1969, Ray Stevens sang "Gitarzan", which featured the wrong notes from "Swinging on a Star": "Carrying Moonbeams Home in a Jar."

A Prairie Home Companion guitarist Pat Donohue wrote "Would You Like to Play Guitar," which wittily advises aspiring musicians against the practical perils of a full-time music career.

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 134. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ 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 A.
  3. ^ a b A Bing Crosby Discography, Part 1b: Commercial Recordings - The Decca Years
  4. ^ "Andy Wright - Swinging on a Star". YouTube.
  5. ^ Swinging on a star - Big Dee Irwin & Little Eva - animation short on YouTube
  6. ^ Hudson Hawk Soundtrack, on IMDB

External links[edit]