The Song of the Day for August 3, 2012 is I Left My Heart in San Francisco by Douglass Cross and George Cory. We feature this song today because in addition to being Mr. Bennett’s birthday, August 3, 1920 marks the day that George Cory was born.
How this song came to Mr. Bennett sounds like something out of a movie. He and Ralph Sharon were heading out on the road to San Francisco, with stops in between. As Mr. Bennett’s musical director, he was always being given songs by aspiring songwriters. He’d been given I Left My Heart in San Francisco and had put it in a drawer, forgotten. He came across it while packing for the trip and decided to take it with him, thinking that it might go over well in San Francisco, for the local crowd. One night after playing in Hot Springs, Arkansas, they found a piano in the bar at the hotel they were staying at and began to work on the song a bit. After singing it just once, the bartender said “If you guys record that song, I’ll buy the first copy.” Mr. Bennett sang it at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and the audience loved it.
Soon afterwards, as Mr. Bennett was preparing to record the single of Once Upon a Time it was decided to put San Francisco on the B-side of the 45. And the rest is history.
Here’s the original version, from compilation The Ultimate Tony Bennett: