The song of the day for Thursday, May 4, 2017 is “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
About This Song
“I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was written in 1953 by Douglass Cross and George Cory.
This song is, of course, Tony Bennett’s signature song. It actually became that quite by accident. As Bennett’s musical director, songwriters were constantly giving Ralph Sharon copies of their songs. Cross and Cory had done that and Sharon had stuck the song in a drawer and forgotten all about it. In 1961, he and Bennett were heading out on tour, which included a stop in San Francisco at The Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. Sharon came across the music and thought it might be a nice local number for the San Francisco audience. After a performance in Hot Springs, Arkansas, they found a piano and started to work on the song a bit. An early fan was the bartender, who said that he’d buy the first copy if they ever decided to record it. Of course, I Left My Heart in San Francisco was a huge hit at the performance and in January, 1962, Bennett recorded it and released it on a 45 RPM record on the B-side to “Once Upon a Time.”
But gradually, I Left My Heart in San Francisco started getting all the airplay and it became a major hit for Bennett, winning him his first Grammy Award. It is his signature song and is beloved by all of his fans.
About This Version
We are all, of course, quite familiar with Bennett’s original recording of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Today, I’m featuring a newer version made in 2006 with Bill Charlap on piano. This version was released on Duets: An American Classic.
Tony did a very nice interview on NPR about this new version, which I’m happy to present here.
“I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” as well as Duets: An American Classic, is available from iTunes.
Today marks the anniversary of the birth of the composer of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” George Cory, who was born on May 4, 1920. He and his partner, Douglass Cross, were San Franciscans who came to New York to make it big as songwriters. It did take them a while, but “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” made them famous and wealthy. Cory died in 1978, preceded by the death of Cross in 1975.
The Year of Tony Bennett has been contacted by an author who is writing a book about Cross and Cory, which should be a good read. I believe it’s due to come out later this year, but I’ll be sure to let you know when I learn more about the publication date.