The Way You Look Tonight

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"The Way You Look Tonight"
Published1936 by Chappell & Co.
"The Way You Look Tonight"
The Way You Look Tonight.JPG
Single by The Lettermen
from the album A Song for Young Love
B-side"That's My Desire"
ReleasedJune 13, 1961
Format7" single
StudioCapitol Studios, Hollywood, California
GenrePop, jazz
The Lettermen singles chronology
"The Way You Look Tonight"
"When I Fall in Love"

"The Way You Look Tonight" is a song from the film Swing Time that was performed by Fred Astaire and composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics written by Dorothy Fields. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936.[1][2] Fields remarked, "The first time Jerry played that melody for me I went out and started to cry. The release absolutely killed me. I couldn't stop, it was so beautiful."[3]

In the movie, Astaire sang "The Way You Look Tonight" to Ginger Rogers while she was washing her hair in an adjacent room.[1] His recording reached the top of the charts in 1936. Other versions that year were by Guy Lombardo and by Teddy Wilson with Billie Holiday.[4]

Cover versions[edit]

To take advantage of the success of the song, pianist Teddy Wilson brought Billie Holiday into a studio ten weeks after the movie was released. Holiday was twenty-one when she recorded "The Way You Look Tonight" as a duet with Wilson in October 1936. Six years passed before the song appeared on the charts again, this time in a version by Benny Goodman with Peggy Lee on vocals and Mel Powell on celeste. The most popular and imitated version was recorded by Frank Sinatra with the Nelson Riddle orchestra in 1964. Versions were also recorded by Clifford Brown, Tina Brooks, Johnny Griffin (with John Coltrane), and Charlie Parker, and Tony Bennett.[2]

Bing Crosby and his wife Dixie Lee recorded it as a duet on August 19, 1936.[5] The Lettermen found their first hit when their version reached No. 13 on the Billboard magazine Hot 100 singles chart in 1961 and No. 36 on the UK Singles Chart that same year.[1] Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk recorded it in 1954. Rod Stewart included it on the album Great American Songbook in 2002.[2] Cassandra Wilson included the song in her 2015 album Coming Forth by Day.[6]


Chart (1961) Peak
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 36
US Billboard Hot 100 13
US Billboard Easy Listening 3

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19 ed.). London: Guinness World Records. p. 134. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ a b c Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. New York City: Oxford University Press. p. 449–451. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  3. ^ Wilk, Max (1997). They're Playing Our Song: Conversations with America's Classic Songwriters (1st Da Capo Press ed.). Da Capo Press. p. 56. ISBN 0-306-80746-7.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories, 1890–1954. Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 604. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  5. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  6. ^ "Coming Forth by Day". Allmusic. Retrieved 15 January 2019.

External links[edit]