The song of the day for August 3, 2014 is “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”
About This Song
This song was written 1954 by two somewhat homesick songwriters from San Francisco: George Cory and Douglass Cross.
Knowing that Ralph Sharon played with Tony Bennett, the songwriters gave a copy of the music to Mr. Sharon, who promptly put it in a drawer and forgot about it. Some time later, as he was packing for a tour with Mr. Bennett that would take them to San Francisco, he came across the song and put it in his suitcase, thinking that the locals in San Francisco might enjoy hearing it. After a performance at a nightclub in Hot Springs, Arkansas (a concert where underage saxophone player and future President Bill Clinton famously stood outside the club and watched the entire performance through the window), Bennett and Sharon found a piano in the bar at their hotel and started to work on the song. The first fan of the song was the bartender, who said “If you guys record that song, I’ll buy the first copy.” (Tony Bennett, The Good Life, page 164).
They sang the song at the Fairmont Hotel on opening night, at Mr. Bennett’s first appearance in San Francisco. Local representatives from Columbia Records heard the song at rehearsal and encouraged Bennett to record it. A few months later, they recorded it as the B-side with Once Upon A Time. Mr. Bennett relates this in his autobiography, The Good Life:
“I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was a “grass roots” phenomenon: it literally came from nowhere, it was written by two unknown songwriters, it wasn’t from a show or a movie and the record company didn’t spend millions of dollar promoting it. People responded to it because it was a great song, not because some record company exec was telling them what to like. … The record sold thousands of copies a week for the next four years, became a gold record, scored me my first Grammy, and in short, became the biggest record of my career.
And, of course, the song has become synonymous with Tony Bennett. I have even been asked if Tony Bennett is from San Francisco, because he is so identified with this song; I have to tell them that he is a New Yorker to his core.
About Some Birthdays
We have some serious birthdays associated with today’s song. Of course, today is Mr. Bennett’s 88th birthday! Happy Birthday, Tony Bennett! Today is also the birthday of the composer today’s song, George Cory, who was born on August 3, 1920.
About This Version
Today’s version is the original version, recorded on January 23, 1962 in New York at the CBS 30th Street Studios. It was arranged by Marty Manning.
“I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” as well as the album of the same name, is available from iTunes.
And even though today is Sunday, and not YouTube Saturday, we have some videos for you …
Tony Bennett singing with Judy Garland from her television show:
And Tony Bennett at the 1994 MTV Unplugged Concert, with Ralph Sharon: