Tangerine (1941 song)

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"Tangerine" is a popular song. The music was written by Victor Schertzinger, the lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The song was published in 1941 and soon became a jazz standard.

It was introduced to a broad audience in the 1942 movie, The Fleet's In, produced by Paramount Pictures, directed by Schertzinger just before his death, and starring Dorothy Lamour, William Holden, Eddie Bracken, singer Cass Daley, and Betty Hutton in her feature film debut.

The song portrays a fictitious South American woman with universally recognized allure: "When she dances by, / Señoritas stare / And caballeros sigh."[1] As one of Mercer's biographers explained the initial popularity: "Latin America, the one part of the world not engulfed in World War II, became a favorite topic for songs and films for Americans who wanted momentarily to forget about the conflagration."[2]

Charted recordings[edit]

The most popular recorded version of the song was made by the performers who introduced it in the film: the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra with vocalists Helen O'Connell and Bob Eberly. The recording was released by Decca Records as catalog number 4123. The record first reached the Billboard charts on April 10, 1942, and lasted 15 weeks on the chart, including six weeks at #1.[3] The lyrics in this version differ slightly from those in the movie. On the record, Eberly sings "And I've seen toasts to Tangerine / Raised in every bar across the Argentine," the lyric that became standard. In the movie at that point, the line is "And I've seen times when Tangerine / Had the bourgeoisie believing she were queen."

A disco instrumental version by the Salsoul Orchestra brought the song back into the top twenty in 1976.[4]

Other notable covers[edit]

More than 100 acts have recorded "Tangerine", including such notable artists as Ilya Serov featuring Poncho Sanchez, Oscar Peterson, Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck, Herb Alpert, Chet Baker and Paul Desmond, Jim Hall, Harry Connick, Jr., Benny Goodman, Dr. John, Eliane Elias, Vaughn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Lawrence Welk,[5] Stan Getz with Bob Brookmeyer, Gene Ammons, Lou Donaldson, Zoot Sims and Dexter Gordon.[6] In addition:


  1. ^ Eskew, Glenn T. (2013). Johnny Mercer: Southern Songwriter for the World. University of Georgia Press. p. 322. ISBN 978-0820333304. 
  2. ^ Furia, Philip (2004). Skylark: The Life and Times of Johnny Mercer. Macmillan. p. 263. ISBN 978-1466819238. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940–1955. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2000). Top Pop Singles 1955–1999. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. 
  5. ^ "Title Search". ASCAP. Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  6. ^ Cook, Stephen. "Stan Getz / Zoot Sims – The Brothers". AllMusic. Retrieved January 20, 2017. 

Preceded by
"Moonlight Cocktail" by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra with vocal refrain by Ray Eberle and the Modernaires
The Billboard National Best Selling Retail Records number-one single
(Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra version)

May 9 – June 13, 1942 (six weeks)
Succeeded by
"Sleepy Lagoon" by Harry James and His Orchestra