The song of the day for November 2, 2013 is “Because of You.”
About This Song
“Because Of You” was written in 1940 by Arthur Hammerstein (uncle to Oscar Hammerstein II) and Dudley Wilkinson. It wasn’t really popular or much recorded until after Tony Bennett’s recording in 1951. In that time period, the song was used in a movie called I Was An American Spy.
About This Version
Today’s version is the one-and-only original from 1951; arranged and conducted by Percy Faith. The story of how this song came to be recorded is quite wonderful. Tony Bennett had been singing with Columbia for a year and there was concern that he hadn’t really had a hit, at least since his first song recorded for the label: “The Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” In fact, he’d been warned by Percy Faith that if he didn’t have a hit soon, he might be released from his contract. Tony Bennett tells this story in his autobiography The Good Life:
I went into Percy’s office and he said, “In this next session you really have to deliver. We only have three songs ready, so we need another song.” I remember that he looked through a bunch of sheet music on his desk, grabbed a song, and said “Well, let’s do this one.” The song was ‘Because Of You.” I was doing a lot of dramatic singing on my early records like ‘Sing You Sinners” and ‘Boulevard,’ but Percy said to me, “Just relax, Use your natural voice and sing the song.” I took his advice.
And what great advice that was. The song got popular not on the radio, but on the jukeboxes, who then called the radio stations and requested the song. It reached #1 on the Billboard charts in June, 1951 and stayed on the chart for a remarkable thirty-two weeks, ten of them at #1. It was most definitely a hit.
I’ll go on the record as thanking Percy Faith for encouraging Tony Bennett to sing in his natural voice. Why mess with perfection? For Tony Bennett’s voice, then and now, is pure perfection.
“Because of You,” as well as the collected early singles by Tony Bennett on The Columbia Singles, Vol. 1, is available from iTunes.
The Year of Tony Bennett would like to wish k.d. lang a very happy birthday. In honor of her birthday (and because it’s YouTube Saturday), we are pleased to present this video of k.d. and Tony singing their duet of “Because of You” from the album Duets: An American Classic; the video also includes portions of an interview with the duo by the late Phil Ramone.
Happy Birthday, k.d.!