The Best Things in Life Are Free (Ray Henderson song)

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"The Best Things in Life Are Free"
Published1927 (1927) by De Sylva, Brown and Henderson
GenreShow tunes
Composer(s)Ray Henderson
Lyricist(s)Buddy DeSylva and Lew Brown

"The Best Things in Life Are Free" is a popular song written by the songwriting team of Buddy DeSylva and Lew Brown (lyrics) and Ray Henderson (music) for the 1927 musical Good News. It enjoyed a revival during the period from 1947 to 1950, when it was covered by many artists.

On January 1, 2023, the composition entered the public domain in the US.[1]


There are so many kinds of riches,
And only one of them is gold.
Though wealth you miss,
Remember this :
Worthwhile things cannot be bought or sold.
The moon belongs to everyone—
The best things in life are free
The stars belong to everyone
They gleam there for you and me
The flowers in spring
the robins that sing
The sunbeams that shine
They're yours!—They're mine!
And love can come to everyone—
The best things in life are free[2]


The song first enjoyed chart success in 1927 with the recordings by George Olsen and Frank Black.[3]

Jo Stafford recorded the song on November 7, 1947,[4] bringing the song to a new genre. She enjoyed chart success with the song reaching the No. 21 spot in 1948. Dinah Shore also covered the song in 1948;[5] her single reached peaked at No. 18 on the charts.[3]

Other recordings[edit]

In film and television[edit]

The song was included in both film adaptations of Good News, in 1930 and 1947; the 1947 film featured the song several times, sung by June Allyson, Mel Tormé, and Peter Lawford.

The film The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956), about DeSylva, Brown and Henderson, was named after the song and featured it with a version sung by Sheree North (dubbed by Eileen Wilson).

In an episode of The Muppet Show, a group of kleptomaniac prairie dogs sang the song as they looted the set.

The song was sung by Bonnie Bedelia in the 1969 Sydney Pollack film They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Robert Morse performed the song in the Mad Men (season 7) episode "Waterloo" (May 25, 2014), in a dream sequence.[13]

Also featured in the film Nanny McPhee Returns during the piglet feeding in the beginning of the movie. Sung by Bing Crosby.

Sam Cooke's version of the song is used in the closing of the Season 2 finale (episode 7) of The White Lotus.


  1. ^ "Public Domain Day 2023".
  2. ^ DeSylva, B.G.; Schwab, Laurence (1959). Good News: A Musical Comedy. Samuel French. ISBN 9780573680199.
  3. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 477. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  4. ^ "Fred Fox School of Music" (PDF). Fred Fox School of Music. Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  5. ^ Gilliland, John. (197X). "Pop Chronicles 1940s Program #20 - All Tracks UNT Digital Library". Retrieved 2021-02-06.
  6. ^ "". Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  7. ^ "". Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  8. ^ Retrieved April 11, 2023.
  9. ^ "". Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  10. ^ "". Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  11. ^ "". Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  12. ^ "". Retrieved Aug 5, 2018.
  13. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (May 27, 2014). "Robert Morse on His Big 'Mad Men' Number". The New York Times.