The Way You Look Tonight

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The Way You Look Tonight (Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields)

Excerpts from the WICN.org Song of the Week feature:

In the RKO musical comedy Swing Time, Fred Astaire, accompanying himself, sings “The Way You Look Tonight” to Ginger Rodgers while she is in another room shampooing her hair. Charmed by his declaration of love, she emerges from the bathroom in an old robe and stands behind him at the piano, forgetting that her head is covered in soapsuds (actually whipped cream from the RKO commissary). As he sings the last line, “Just the way you look tonight,” he turns and is startled to see her there with her lather-covered head. When she realizes how she must look, she flees from the room in embarrassment, providing an amusing end to a romantic moment, a frequent occurrence in an Astaire/Rodgers film. Swing Time was the sixth of ten Astaire and Rodgers musicals, and is considered by many to be their best. The film was a commercial success and “The Way You Look Tonight” won the 1936 Academy Award for Best Song, swing-time-the-way-you-look-tonight-1-ginger-f28beating out stiff competition that included Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under my Skin.”

“The Way You Look Tonight” has no verse, which is not unusual in songs Kern wrote for films, but it is a long song at 44-bars. When Fields first heard the music, reportedly she recalled, “The first time Jerry played that melody for me I went out and started to cry. The release absolutely killed me. I couldn’t stop, it was so beautiful.”

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Swing Time (1936)Sung by Astaire, seated at a piano, while Ginger is busy shampooing her hair in another room.

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Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra, vocal: Billy Holiday — Irving Randolph, t / Vido Musso, cl / Ben Webster, ts / Teddy Wilson, p / Allan Reuss, g / Milton Hinton, sb / Gene Krupa, d / Billie Holiday, v. New York, October 21, 1936.

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Benny Goodman and his Orchestra –  Peggy Lee, vocal (date unknown)

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The Jaguars: Charles Middleton,Val Poliuto, Sonny Chaney and Manny Chavez

The Jaguars – 1956

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Mel Tormé with Marty Paich and his Dek-tette — from Sings Fred Astaire; album recorded 10-11 November 1956, arranged and conducted by Marty Paich

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Bobby Hackett — instrumental track from his 1957 LP Rendezvous, arranged and conducted by Glenn Osser

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Frank Sinatra – recorded 27 January 1964 with arrangement by Nelson Riddle.

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Tony Bennett

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Michael Bublé – the song originally appeared on Bublé’s self-titled debut album, released 11 February 2003. I don’t know the date of this performance. The album track was not one of the three singles released. Also, wikipedia mentions official promotional videos only for Sway and Moondance (the latter not released a single) from the debut.

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Harry Connick, Jr. – from Your Songs – 2009

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. John
    May 09, 2010 @ 14:59:54

    I was kinda hoping to see the Jaguars doo wop version which is how I was introduced to the song a long time ago.

    Great song no matter who sings it seems but Sinatra’s swinging version is the best imo. One of my all time favorites.

    Reply

    • doc
      May 10, 2010 @ 01:39:09

      Hi John, I’ve added the Sinatra version from 1964 (haven’t found his 1943 recording). I hadn’t been able to find a good video when I looked yesterday. Thanks for reminding me.

      Here’s the 1956 recording by the Jaguars.

      Reply

  2. Charles Murdoch
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 04:44:21

    Such a beautiful song should, in my view, be sung with a lagato flow one note to the other. Of the above Buble is to the sound and tempo I believe to be best but I would like to hear Perry Como sing this.

    Reply

  3. doc
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 13:19:15

    Charles, I’m not aware of a Perry Como recording of the song. Would you like to suggest another in the style you prefer?

    Reply

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