As we close out the Tony Bennett 1950s Hit Parade Week at the Year of Tony Bennett, the song of the day for Saturday, January 12, 2013 is While We’re Young.
About While We’re Young
While We’re Young was composed by Alec Wilder and Morty Palitz, with lyrics by William Engvick. It was first recorded in 1944 by the Fred Waring Singers (little known fact: the Waring blender was invented by the same Fred Waring) and again in 1949 by Meredith Willson (who wrote The Music Man) and his Orchestra. Peggy Lee also recorded the song in 1949, but not to Wilder’s liking. Marion McPartland quotes Wilder as telling Miss Lee that “The next time you come to the bridge (of the song), jump off!” While We’re Young remains a popular in the American songbook, having been recently recorded by Jane Monheit and Ben Sidron.
Alec Wilder was a composer of amazing breadth and interests. In addition to his popular and jazz music, he also composed operas, film music and classical chamber music. He is also the author of American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950 (available inexpensively on the Kindle platform at Amazon; the book is also available from the publisher Oxford University Press), with an introduction by Gene Lees.
About This Version
Even though While We’re Young wasn’t a hit as far as the charts go, I chose it because it’s a really beautiful song by a great composer. Tony Bennett recorded the song in May 1951 with an arrangement by Percy Faith. It was produced by Mitch Mitchell, who attended the Eastman School of Music with Mr. Wilder.
While We’re Young, as well as the full Columbia Singles: Volume 1, is available from iTunes.