The song of the day for Saturday, October 18, 2014 is “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”
About This Song
The story of “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” is the kind of story that legends are made from. Tony Bennett, along with the Ralph Sharon Trio, were setting out on a tour that would wind up with his first appearance at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. As Sharon was packing for the trip, he came across the sheet music for the song, which had been given to him by the songwriters George Cory and Douglass Cross, who had written the song in 1953. On their stop in Hot Springs, Arkansas (a performance that a young high school band saxophone player named William Jefferson Clinton listened to through an open window, as he was too young to buy a ticket to the venue), Ralph Sharon found a piano in the hotel and they began to work on the song. The hotel bartender heard them, loved the song and told them that if they ever recorded it, he would certainly buy a copy. They took it on to San Francisco, thinking that the song might prove to be a regional hit for the local audience.
Needless to say, the audience loved the song, as did the Columbia representatives who heard Bennett sing the song at the Fairmont. Upon his return to New York, he recorded the song. Bennett continues the story in his autobiography The Good Life:
Columbia quickly released the single using “San Francisco” as the B-side, since I was positive that “Once Upon A Time” was a the surefire hit. I even put the song in my show and plugged it like crazy. But Columbia reps stopped me in my tracks because requests were pouring in from all the country for “San Francisco.” They immediately rang me up and told me that the public was reacting like crazy to the B-side. So I started plugging “San Francisco.”
“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 dollars promoting it. People responded to it because it was a great song, not because some record company exec was telling them what to write. Even Goddard Lieberwson called and said, “You’re never going to stop hearing about ‘San Francisco’ for the rest of your life. As long as you keep singing, you’ll be singing this song.”
About This Version
Today’s version of “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” was recorded in 1962 and became the title song for a new Tony Bennett album. It was arranged by Marty Manning. This recording and the album won Bennett the first two of his numerous Grammy Awards: one for Best Solo Vocal Performance, Male and the other for the Record Of The Year.
Every time the San Francisco Giants win a home game, they play Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.” Today, I’m playing the song for my beloved San Francisco Giants, who last night played one of the best baseball games I’ve ever seen and, in doing so, wrapped up the National League Championship Series. So, go Giants! We’ll see you Tuesday in the World Series.
“I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” as well as the album of the same name, is available from iTunes.
And, of course, today is Saturday and what is Saturday without a Tony Bennett video? Today’s video is Mr. Bennett singing today’s song on the Johnny Carson Show in 1982. Enjoy!