It’s So Peaceful in the Country – 1941-1960 recordings (part 1)


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It’s So Peaceful in the Country (w.m. Alec Wilder) — copyright, 2 June 1941

City living is a pretty living
It’s so full of unexpected thrills
But there’s too much stone
Too much telephone
There’s too much of everything but trees and hills

From Alec Wilder in Spite of Himself: A Life of the Composer, by Desmond Stone, 1996, p. 69:

According to Wilder, It’s So Peaceful in the Country became a success almost in spite of itself: “That it was published and very nearly became a big hit came as a total surprise to me. For when I submitted it to the first, second and third publishers, they all wound up bewildered, saying the equivalent of ‘where’s the broad?’ You see, the countryside is the real love affair and the absence of the other kind nearly kept the song from being published.”

From Alec Wilder in Spite of Himself: A Life of the Composer, by Desmond Stone, 1996, p. 70:

Just as he had written Give Me Time for Mildred Bailey back in Eastman School days, Wilder said he also had her in mind when he wrote It’s So Peaceful in the Country. “Mildred Bailey, due to a singing engagement one summer,” he wrote, “was unable to get to her country place. So I, with no thought of more than giving a friend, [sic] a present, a kind of vicarious weekend out of town, wrote It’s So Peaceful in the Country.” There are various versions of how the song came to be. Loonis McGlohon says many people have said that Wilder wrote the song at their home: “I know one woman who claimed that, and Alec dumped a pitcher of water on her head. In fact, he wrote it on a beatup piano at the Algonquin Hotel.”

According to the book Shall We Play That One Together?: The Life and Art of Jazz Piano Legend Marian McPartland by Paul de Barros (2012), p. 315, after Wilder’s death on Christmas Eve 1980, the song was played during the burial service:

Wilder’s friends planned a memorial service at St. Agnes Cemetery in Avon, New York, where his friend Father Atwell had lived. Marian [McPartland] attended, as did Loonis McGlohon, Jackie Cain, Roy Kral, the writer Joel E. Siegel, Tom and Zena Hampson, Lou Ouzer, and the rest of the Rochester gang. Marian bought a tree to plant over his grave. As they stood around Alec’s open grave, Sal Sperazza played “It’s So Peaceful in the Country” on solo trumpet, and Ouzer blew bubbles over the grave.

At the end of the prologue of Alec Wilder in Spite of Himself, on page 5, Desmond Stone describes the scene more poetically:

A soft, sensitive trumpet floated the notes of one of Wilder’s songs that became a standard in the 1940s, “It’s So Peaceful in the Country.” Sal Sperazza can never have played it more beautifully.

Then boyhood friend Louis Ouzer did something the irrepressible Wilder had often done himself: he stepped forward and blew a string of bubbles. They sailed over the grave and captured for one last shining moment the magic of the man and his music.


Mildred Bailey and the Delta Rhythm Boys – recorded on 24 June 1941; issued on the 78 rpm single Decca 3953, b/w “Lover, Come Back to Me!” (m. Sigmund Romberg, w. Oscar Hammerstein II), B-side recorded by Mildred Bailey — The chorus precedes the verse in this version.*


Embed from Getty Images.

Charlie Spivak and his Orchestra, vocal: Garry Stephens – recorded on 27 June 1941, and issued on the 78 rpm single OKeh 6291, c/w “What Word is Sweeter than Sweetheart”


Harry James and his Orchestra, vocal: Dick Haymes — recorded on 30 June 1941; issued on Columbia 36246, as the B-side of “Yes Indeed!” (Oliver)


Barbary Coast Orchestra, of Dartmouth College — label dated 7 December 1942


Percy Faith and Mitch Miller — title track from the 1956 album Columbia Records CL 779


Mundell Lowe — recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ on 20 February 1956; released on the 1956 LP Guitar Moods, Riverside Records RLP 12-208 (Mono)

session instrumentation:

  • Mundell Lowe – guitar
  • Al Klink – bass clarinet, flute
  • Trigger Alpert – bass
  • Ed Shaughnessy – drums


Patti Page — from The Patti Page Show, possibly Episode 1.2, broadcast on 23 June 1956


June Christy – from her 1957 album Gone for the Day, Capitol T902 — with orchestra arranged and conducted by Pete Rugolo


Dick Johnson Quartet — recorded in NYC on 30 October 1957; released on the 1957 album Most Likely…, Riverside Records RLP 12-253

  • Dick Johnson – alto sax
  • Dave McKenna – piano
  • Wilbur Ware – bass
  • Philly Joe Jones – drums


Danny & Dena Guglielmi – from their 1957 LP Adventure in Sound, Tops Records L1580

Presently unavailable


The Creed Taylor Orchestra — from the 1958 album Shock Music in Hi-Fi, ABC Paramount Records ABC-259 (Mono), ABCS-259 (Stereo)


Tony Bennett with Ralph Sharon and his Orchestra — issued on 16 February 1959 on the 45 rpm single Columbia Records 4-41341, b/w “Being True to One Another” (WARNING: massive echo, even for the evidently, at least through much of the 1950s and 60s, echo-mad Mr. Bennett)


Nelson Riddle — originally released on the 1959 album The Joy of Living, (US) Capitol Records T 1148 (Mono), ST 1148 (Stereo)


Joe Wilder — originally released on the 1959 album The Pretty Sound, (US) Columbia CL 1372 (Mono), CS 8173 (Stereo)


The Frank Wess Quartet —  recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, on 9 May 1960; released on the 1960 self-titled album (US) Moodsville MVLP 8

session instrumentation:

  • Frank Wess – tenor sax, flute
  • Tommy Flanagan – piano
  • Eddie Jones – bass
  • Bobby Donaldson – drums


Tak Shindo — from the 1960 album Accent on Bamboo, (US) Capitol Records T-1433 (Mono), ST-1433 (Stereo)


sources and other helpful links:


* In Mildred Bailey’s recording, the verse is placed after the four sections of the AABA chorus. Then, following the verse section, she repeats the fourth or final section of the chorus. If the lyric provided by the authors of Reading Lyrics, on p. 394 accurately represents what Alec Wilder wrote, then he wrote different lines to be sung by a “he” or a “she” vocalist, as the case may be, in the second half of each of the first two of the four sections of the chorus. Bailey sings the “she” part in the first section, but substitutes the “he” part in the second section. And who can blame her for opting not to sing the lines Wilder evidently expected a female to voice:

You read a book
Or try to cook
Like any good man’s wife

In Wilder’s world, that’s evidently what a lady did when she was relaxing in the country, as meanwhile her man was off in a meadow taking relaxation to another level:

You lie and dream
Beside a stream
While daisies nod “Hello”

Perhaps, to the songwriter’s way of thinking, it hadn’t seemed prudent to allow that a “she” might become quite so idle and carefree in the country. In any event, Bailey chose to sing the “he” option in the second section of the chorus, but the third line is sung as “Where daisies nod hello,” instead of “While daisies nod hello.” In the 1941 Charlie Spivak and Harry James recordings, respectively, the vocalist in each case sings the original “While daisies…” phrase.

Some of the more recent recordings featuring a female vocalist have (dutifully?) retained the “good man’s wife” lines.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: There’s too much of everything but trees and hills | Songbook
  2. Trackback: While daisies nod “Hello” | Songbook

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