Without a Song

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"Without a Song" is a popular song with music by Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Billy Rose and Edward Eliscu, published in 1929. It was included in the musical play, Great Day.

One of the earliest recordings of the song is by Paul Whiteman's orchestra featuring Bing Crosby in 1929. "Without a Song" was recorded March 1946 in New York by Billy Eckstine,[1] who later rerecorded the song live 30 August 1960 at the Cloud Nine Lounge of the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas for his album No Cover, No Minimum. "Without a Song" also was recorded twice by Perry Como: the first time on January 11, 1951 and the second time in June 1970 at a live performance at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. The 1951 recording was issued as a 78 rpm single in the United States by RCA Victor Records (catalog number 20-4033) and in the United Kingdom by HMV (catalog number B-10093). It was also included in a 1957 album, Dream Along With Me (RCA Camden catalog number CAL-403). The 1970 recording was issued on albums by RCA and its United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Japan subsidiaries, but not as a single.

Lawrence Tibbett, Nelson Eddy and Frank Sinatra recorded versions of the song with what appears to be the original lyrics, including the line, "A darkie's born, but he's no good no how, without a song." In subsequent recordings, Sinatra didn't use the term "darkie", and later recorded versions included the altered text "a man is born, but he's no good no how, without a song."[2]

In addition to popular artists like Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Neil Sedaka, and opera singers like Jan Peerce and Mario Lanza, many African-American artists of varying styles also successfully recorded the song after Billy Eckstine first did so in 1946, including a version in "gospel style" by Mahalia Jackson in concert in Berlin, 1967; also versions by George Benson, The Ravens, The Isley Brothers, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes (for their album I Hear A Symphony), and jazz singer Jimmy Scott on his 2006 album Milestone Profiles - Jimmy Scott on Milestone Records. Instrumental versions have been recorded by Sonny Rollins, on his 1962 "comeback" album, The Bridge, Stanley Turrentine on his album Never Let Me Go (Blue Note 90838), Clare Fischer on Surging Ahead (Pacific Jazz PJ 67), and Bill Evans on You Must Believe in Spring (reissued on Rhino Records). Others include Oscar Peterson, Louis Armstrong, Art Blakey, Art Tatum, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Art Pepper and Adam Rogers.

"Without a Song" was released as a single in the UK by Gary Shearston in 1974 and by Noah Stewart in 2011.


  1. ^ Billy Eckstine, I Ain't Like That, Quadromania, Jazz Edition, 4CD, Mebran International GmbH, 2005
  2. ^ Richard Cohen. "A Face On the Past".