The song of the day for Saturday, February 14, 2015 is “Because Of You.”
About This Song
“Because Of You” was written in 1940 by Arthur Hammerstein (uncle to Oscar) and Dudley Wilkinson.
About This Version
How Tony Bennett came to record this song is one of my favorite stories about his early days at Columbia. I’ll let him tell it, from The Good Life:
By the spring of 1951, I was told that if I didn’t get a hit soon I’d be dropped from the label. I went into Percy’s (Percy Faith) office and he said, “In this next session you really have to deliver. We have only 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.” That 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.
When “Because Of You” was released, the record company didn’t have much confidence in me. But then something interesting started happening: the record didn’t get on the radio right away, but people were playing it on the jukeboxes so often that it started to build momentum, one nickel at a time. It was unusual for a song to become popular on jukeboxes before it got on the radio, but this one did. Listeners from all around the country began calling their local radio stations and requesting “Because Of You,” and it reached number one on Billboard magazine’s pop chart on June 23, 1951. It stayed on the chart for thirty-two weeks–ten weeks at number one. I finally had my first major hit record.
“Because Of You,” as well as other early singles releases collected on The Columbia Singles, Vol. 1, is available from iTunes.
I wanted to choose one of Tony Bennett’s wonderful love songs and so today we have “Because Of You.” It was his first major hit and was a favorite of young couples in the early 1950s. I’ve heard so many stories about couples who played that recording at their wedding parties. I can’t think of a nicer song for Valentine’s Day.
Because Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday, I also have a video of our song of the day. This is from Duets: An American Classic, where he sung a duet of today’s song with k.d. lang. I hope you enjoy the song and the video.
Happy Valentine’s Day from The Year of Tony Bennett.