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The Way You Look Tonight

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Written: 1936

Music by: Jerome Kern

Words by: Dorothy Fields

Written for: Swing Time
(movie, 1936)

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Main Stage || Record/Video Cabinet || Reading Room || Posted Comments || Credits

On the Main Stage at Cafe Songbook

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Michael Bublé


"The Way You Look Tonight"

at his June, 2003 AOL session
accompanied by his five piece band (piano, guitar, bass, alto sax durms) of the period and is available on the combination CD/DVD set
Come Fly With Me.

More Performances of "The Way you Look Tonight":
in the Cafe Songbook
Record/Video Cabinet

And forty years earlier


Nat King Cole


"The Way You Look Tonight"

in the concert "An Evening with Nat King Cole" at the BBC TV Theatre, London, during the musician's visit to Britain in July 1963. Cole is accompanied by an augmented Ted Heath Orchestra. Featured personnel for the concert include Reunald Jones, trumpet; John Collins, guitar; Charles Harris, acoustic double bass; Leon Petties, drums with Ted Heath and The Cliff Adams Singers

The concert is available on DVD at




Cafe Songbook Reading Room

"The Way You Look Tonight"

Critics Corner || Lyrics Lounge

About the Movie Swing Time

Other songs written for title currently included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook:

1. Pick Yourself Up

2. A Fine Romance

3. Never Gonna Dance


For a complete listing of songs used in this show movie, see IMDB soundtracks.


(Read our discussion on criteria (currently unavailable)for inclusion of songs in The Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook).













Swing Time

Introduction of the song "The Way You Look Tonight"
in Swing Time

Swing Time, directed by George Stevens with a script by Howard Lindsay and Allan Scott is the sixth Astaire-Rogers movie and the first to be have all the songs written by the team of Jerome Kern (music) and Dorothy Fields (lyrics).

The movie is the story of how John "Lucky" Garnett (Fred Astaire), a dancer and gambler, meets and falls in love with Penny Carroll (Ginger Rodgers) a dancing school teacher. Lucky is engaged to the daughter of a wealthy family in his home town in upstate New York, but when he fails to arrive in time for his own wedding, he is informed by his fiance's father that he can't marry his daughter (Betty Furness) until he proves himself a responsible fellow by earning $25,000. Lucky and his sidekick, magician "Pop" Cardetti (Victor Moore), take off for New York City in hopes of finding the money but instead Lucky finds and falls for Penny. The remainder of the movie is a series of comic episodes as Lucky and Penny get together but quickly fall apart until finally, no surprise, everything gets worked out. Most of these episodes provide the opportunity for a song and/or dance -- some of the greatest in the history of film.

"The Way You Look Tonight" is introduced in Swing Time when Lucky (Fred), plays and sings it to Penny (Ginger) in her hotel suite. Penny has been upset with Lucky because she has just discovered him gambling in his room, even though the more or less legitimate reason was to win enough to get a tux for their upcoming audition.

In order to get back in her good graces, he and Pop picket in the hall outside her room -- in comic Thirties fashion -- with placards calling "Penny Carroll unfair to John Garnett." Mabel (Helen Broderick, Penny's sidekick) grants him entry and the two of them attempt to make his amends, but Penny orders him out and returns to the bedroom to wash her hair. Only pretending to leave, Lucky sneaks back and takes a seat at the piano to play and sing "The Way You Look Tonight." Hearing the plaintive song while she is shampooing, Penny relinquishes her last bit of resistance, reenters the room where he is singing and lovingly listens until, at the song's last bar, sees herself in the mirror, hair fully lathered, and, mortified, quickly retreats out of sight. In her horror at her appearance before the man she now loves, she is momentarily oblivious to the ironic words of the song that have just won her over -- that he lovers her "just the way she looks tonight."

Fred Astaire with Ginger Rogers performing
"The Way You Look Tonight" in Swing Time, 1936

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The song is reprised at the end of the film, when cast members sing it in counterpoint to another of the movie's major songs, "A Fine Romance," suggesting through the arrangement that the sarcasm of "A Fine Romance" has become a straight forward assessment of their relationship because, Lucky really does love Penny, just the way she looks tonight.

For "The Way You Look Tonight" Kern and Fields received the Academy Award for Best Original Song of 1936. It was the first time a woman songwriter had won and the only one Fields ever received; while for Kern it was the first of two, the second being "The Last Time I Saw Paris" in 1941, which he wrote with Oscar Hammerstein II.

ED.'s note: Interestingly both Kern and Hammerstein objected to their winning the prize because they had not written the song specifically for the movie Lady Be Good in which it eventually appeared. Both songwriters petitioned the Academy to change its rules requiring that a winning song be written for the film in which it appeared and won the Oscar. Because of their protests, the rule was changed -- but not retroactively. Hammerstein was so upset at the unfairness of his award that he wrote to fellow lyricist Johnny Mercer, whose song "Blues in the Night" had been nominated that year, saying, "You were robbed."

Ultimate Collectors Edition

DVD box set including the ten films listed

The Ten Movies Co-starring
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

1) Flying Down to Rio (1933); 2) The Gay Divorcee (1934); 3) Roberta (1935); 4) Top Hat (1935); 5) Follow the Fleet (1936); 6) Swing time (1936); 7) Shall We Dance (1937); (8) Carefree (1938); (9) The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939); 10) The Barkleys of Broadway (1949).

Critics Corner

Book Cover: Deborah Grace Winer, On the Sunny Side of the Street: The Life and Lyrics of Dorothy Fields
Deborah Grace Winer,
On the Sunny Side of the Street: The Life and Lyrics of Dorothy Fields, (foreword by Betty Comden)
New York: Schirmer Books, 1997.

Fields biographer Deborah Grace Winer quotes her subject on the qualities a good title should have: "'It has to be catchy and if possible contain some exiting new combination of familiar words used in a declarative sentence." Winer goes on to comment, "In fact, Fields titles generally do tend toward plain or slangy declarative statements (or fragments), rather than the poetically abstracted: 'I'm in the Mood for Love,' 'You Couldn't be Cuter,' 'If My Friends Could See Me Now,' 'Nobody Does It like Me.' The Hammerstein-Kern ballad was 'All the Things You Are'; the Fields-Kern ballad was specifically concerned with 'The Way You Look Tonight'" (Winer, p. 48).

Later in the biography, Winer adds to the contrast between the styles of Kern and Fields when she comments that despite the plain spoken title of "The Way You Look Tonight," the song's tune is a "lyrical, quintessentially Kern melody, with . . . fluid momentum and feel not unlike 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.'" Winer adds with regard to "The Way You Look Tonight" that it "is as romantic a ballad as they come, but unlike Otto Harback's lyric for 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes' . . . which is filled with elevated language like 'So I chaffed them, and I gaily laughed,' the Fields lyric is . . . restrained and matter of fact"; and more generally, Winer concludes, "The Swing Time lyrics reject starry-eyed romanticism for smart, urbane, sarcasm tinged expressions." (Winer, p. 99, 102, 103).

book cover: Gerald Bordman Jerome Kern His Life and Music
Gerald Bordman, Jerome Kern His Life and Music, New York:
Oxford University Press (1980)

Kern's biographer Gerald Bordman sees Kern's songs for Swing Time as parallel to his Princess Theater songs of two decades earlier in the sense that those songs announced his style for that period of his Broadway writing just as the Swing Time melodies "broadcast the nature of his compositions for Hollywood." This could be seen in the "immediacy of their appeal." Like the Princess songs, the subtleties were gone but remaining was Kern's "artistry" and his "grace" as well as his "unquenchable musical invention." (Bordman, p. 360)

Book cover: Alec Wilder, "America's Popular Song"
Alec Wilder, American Popular Song The Great Innovators, 1900-1950, New York: Oxford University Press, 1972.
Alec Wilder complements Kern on "The Way You Look Tonight" by claiming that his music for this song combines the qualities of classical and popular music without the drawbacks of either: "'The song flows with elegance and grace. It has none of the spastic, interrupted quality to be found in some [popular] ballads, but might be the opening of the slow movement of a cello concerto; that is, if the composer [of the concerto] were daring enough to risk being melodic" (Wilder, p. 74). In other words it combines the rich beauty of certain classical pieces with the melody of a popular one.

book cover: The Lives of the Great Songs Ed. by Tim De Lisle
Robert Cushman,
"The Way You Look Tonight"
Lives of the Great Songs,
Tim De Lisle (Ed.)
UK: Pavilion, 1994.
(A collection of essays on
individual popular songs by
very capable critics -- Robert Cushman presented BBC programs on musicals and popular song and was the theater critic of The Observer from 1973-1984. He moved to Canada in 1987, and has been theatre critic of the National Post since its inception in 1999)

Many commentators on "The Way You Look Tonight" fall into one of two categories: Those who focus on the profoundly philosophical aspects of the song versus those who praise its simple and straightforward seductiveness.

Robert Cushman unabashedly acknowledges that "The Way You Look Tonight" is his favorite song, and that like so many other great songs, such as "How Long Has This Been Going On" and "I Didn't Know What Time it Was," it "freezes the moment" of falling in Love. But for him, The Kern/Fields song does more. And although he lets us know about what "more" constitutes, both in terms of its role as an independent song as well as its function within the movie Swing Time for which it was written, he is most penetrating when he acknowledges its existential qualities by observing how the song "jumps straight into sadness,"

Someday When I'm awfully low
And the world is Cold . . .

He then notes how these lines coincide with a "slight but definite uplift in the melody," foreshadowing the compensation the memory of her will provide to the singer when that inevitable sadness arrives,

I will feel a glow
Just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight.

These lines preceded Cushman's explanation of what he calls Kern's and Fields' masterstroke, the praising and illustrating of his new love's "gentleness wit and compassion" and above all her loveliness which the singer requests she never lose:

Lovely, never, never change,
Keep that breathless charm,
Won't you please arrange it,
Cause I love you,
Just the way you look tonight.

Even as he makes his request he understands that as he pleads with his love to stay the same, she can't. However, just as Shakespeare and Keats noted in their poetry so Kern and Fields remind us that so long as immortal songs about a mortal womans beauty live, so will she, and so will the compensating quality of beauty in the midst of the eternal recurrence of sadness in life.

The 1990's was a big decade for "The Way You Look Tonight" in the movies. Not only did Tony Bennett sing it in My Best Friends Wedding (1997) but it was also prominently featured in the British film, Peter's Friends. in 1992. As an example of the immortality of the song and its sentiment, Cushman cites the use of "The Way You Look Tonight" in the British movie. A group of show biz types travel to the country estate Peter (Stephen Fry) has just inherited from his father for a reunion ten years after they appeared together in a minor comic musical revue, a point in the past when poignant youthful friendships were intensified. In a pivotal scene, after the glow of their joyous coming back together has warn off and reality is beginning to show through the shredding fabric of their initial euphoria, these thirty-somethings need to restore some calm, to find a way to mend their all too fragile relationships as well as themselves. A mending process, though fleeting still, occurs as they follow Roger (Hugh Laurie) and his wife Mary (Imelda Staunton), who are now young but distressed parents making a living not as actors but as jingle writers, to the piano and begin to play and sing "The Way You Look Tonight." Cushman writes:

The song brings the friends together as almost nothing else does . . . : a hedge against the world for them, the poignantly miserable, just as it was for Fred and Ginger, the poignantly happy. The song, concerned with preserving the present, began by projecting itself into a chilly future which it proceeds to redeem. (De Lisle p. 12)

Hugh Laurie (piano and vocal); Imelda Staunton,
Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson,
Stephen Fry, and Alphonsia Emmanuel (vocals).
from the film Peter's Friends, 1992

Cafe Songbook  logo











Max Wilk,
They're Playing Our Song: Conversations with America's Classic Songwriters
(originally published 1973 as They're Playing Our Song: From Jerome Kern to Stephen Sondheim—The Stories behind the Words and Music of Two Generations), New York and Stratford, CT: Easton Studio Press, 2008.

The Way He Feels Tonight

A similar tack to Cushman's is followed by JAC.

The melody of "The Way You Look Tonight" is beautiful, seductive and memorable, but its force derives from the simple but potent contrasts in the lyric: contrasts between now and then, between "tonight" and "someday," and between his hope that her momentary beauty has saved him from an inescapably bleak future. His consolation is his awareness that she and her beauty will remain in his memory.

"Someday" the singer fears the inevitability that he will be "awf'ly low" and the world equally "cold"; but "tonight" her "smile so warm," and her "cheek so soft," --her loveliness-- yield another inevitability, that "there is nothing left for [him] but to love [her] / Just the way [she] looks tonight." Nothing else exists in the world of the song except these two opposite conditions, one of which creates his fear and the other that tries to tear it apart. The effect is increased by the thudding harshness of words like "low" and "cold" contrasted to the mildness of "warm" and "soft." The poignancy is intensified by the hint that the "someday," fraught with all its difficulty, will come despite her loveliness. The way she looks tonight may mitigate how he feels then, but it will only be a memory. She will not be there. His heart is "foolish" (a concept observed in quite a few other love songs of the time) because he allows himself, just for a moment, to think she will be, but finally realizes that his only hope lies in his plea that she "never, never change," that she will remain fixed in his memory. He pleads for her to keep that breathless charm," an expression that can be read as a charming mannerism of youth or as "breathless" in the sense of being without life yet immortal as in a work of art, without a living presence in his later existence. His understated request for her to "please arrange it" hints at his need to be sure she never changes so when the harsh future comes he can retain the image of just the way she looks tonight. And more that that Fields' song (as well as the film) provides, a chance for her beauty at that moment to become immortal stretching beyond Lucky Garnett to all of us, just as Shakespeare observed in the final couplet of his eighteenth sonnet.

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Of course the song functions in the movie to win her heart, and it does; and all turns out well. But the song's considerable life outside the movie is more dependent on the tension it evokes between a warm romanticism and an existential chill mitigated only by the power of art to bestow immortality.

Dorothy Fields herself felt the power of Kern's music to inspire immediately: "The first time Jerry played that melody for me, I went out and started to cry. Thereleaseabsolutely killed me. I couldn't stop, it was so beautiful" (Wilk, p. 40).

Book cover: Philip Furia, The Poets of Tin Pan Alley"
Philip Furia, The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America's Great Lyricists,
New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Book cover: Philip Furia and Michael Lasser, "America's Songs"
Philip Furia and
Michael Lasser,
America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley, New York: Routledge, 2006.

Philip Furia, who plays down the song's "praise of eternal devotion to immutable beauty" suggested above, is much more interested in how Fields uses simplicity of language. This simplicity stands in contrast to while at the same time reinforcing "the elegant sensuousness of Kern's gracefully insistent melody." It is her "off-handed, snapshot compliment to just . . . 'the way you look tonight' along with its barely noticeable rhyme that do the trick:

'with your smile so warm
and your cheek so soft,
there is nothing for m
but to love you'

Furthermore, Furia not only sees how Fields complements Kern's music but also how she writes to Astaire's ability to bring an "easy grace" to a song through her use of "the chattily resigned 'there is nothing for me but to . . . . ,' and the lightly sensuous 'so warm . . . so soft'" (Furia, Poets of Tin Pan Alley, p. 221 paper-bound Ed.).

Furia's observation leads to the notion that Fields was less interested in making us think of Shakespeare and Keats than she was in using her own twentieth century idiom to express similar ideas.

In another place, Furia along with co-writer Michael Lasser extend this idea by calling "The Way You Look Tonight" Swing Time's "one oasis of romanticism . . . a limpid ballad," which although "infused with feeling" remains "restrained." This is managed through Fields' ability to combine different tones in one lyric. Her singer is not only straight out romantic but "wittily understated," "chatty" and "matter of fact" (Furia and Lasser, p. 136).

Lyrics Lounge

Click here to read the lyrics for "The Way You Look Tonight" as sung by Frank Sinatra
and arranged by Nelson Riddle (1964)
found on the albums: Academy Award Winners and Nothing But The Best

Sinatra sings the lyric as Fields wrote it, with only minor changes such as substituting "Yes, you're lovely" for "Oh, but you're lovely." He also repeats the last two lines of the bridge, "And that laugh that wrinkles your nose / touches my foolish heart." as well as the final A section. Sinatra and Riddle swing the ballad just a bit and only on the final line of the song, the repeat of "Just the way you look tonight" do they modulate the tempo down to about where Astaire and Bennett take it. (See Bennett video just below.)

The most well known Bennett recording is from 1997 and the film "My Best Friend's Wedding." The video below streams the lyrics and the recording itself is available on the album Tony Bennett Sings the Ultimate American Songbook.

Tony Bennett recording of "The Way You Look Tonight"
featured in "My Best Friend's Wedding" 1997

It's also worth noting that the humming that Sinatra and Bennett do (in TB's case, in the studio version above and in fact most of his performances) just before they sing the last line is not an ad lib but was written into the original score, though seldom performed, not even by Astaire on the soundtrack. Gottlieb and Kimball show it in their book but Winer in hers does not. (See books just below.) An early singer to hmm as written is Peggy Lee in 1942.

The most common way of arranging the lyric is to sing the refrain through (the song has no verse.) then repeat the bridge and the last A section. Bennett (above) and Peyroux do it this way.

The lyrics for "The Way You Look Tonight'" are published in:

book cover: Deborah Grace Weiner, On the Sunny side of the Stree: The Life and Lyrics of Dorothy Fields

Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball (Eds.), Reading Lyrics, New York: Pantheon Books, 2000. Deborah Grace Winer. On the Sunny Side of the Street : The Life and Lyrics of Dorothy Fields. New York: Schirmer, 1997.


Click here to read Cafe Songbook lyrics policy.

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("The Way You Look Tonight" page)


Credits for Videomakers of videos used on this page:

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The Cafe Songbook
Record/Video Cabinet:
Selected Recordings of

"The Way You Look Tonight"

Albums shown below include a track of this song and are listed chronologically by original recording date of the track.
Wherever possible a YouTube music video with either the same performance of the song or another performance of it by the same artist is included.
Performer/Recording Index
(*indicates accompanying music-video)

Fred Astaire
album: Fred Astaire and
Ginger Rogers at RKO

(CD: 2005)

album cover: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers at RKO -- soundtracks


Video: See center column at left for the audio and video from the movie soun

Fred Astaire and Oscar Peterson
album: The Fred Astaire Story

same track as on albums referenced above and shown just below

Amazon iTunes icon

Notes: The 1936 recording is the soundtrack from Swing Time, and can be viewed and heard in the video (center column at right). In the 1952 recording Astaire sings accompanied by six members of Jazz at the Philharmonic: tenor saxophonist Flip Phillips, trumpeter Charlie Shavers, pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Alvin Stoller. The track is available on the CD The Astaire Story shown above. It is also included on the Norman Granz produced album of all the songs Astaire recorded with this jazz group. Robert Cushman describes Astaire's singing of the 1950's as his "great singing years . . . when the voice was lighter, more intimate, and, if I may, de-detheatricalized . . . . His film vocals of this time were a marvel and The Astaire Story [collection] . . . must be the the most charming (among other things) vocal record ever made."

[Fred Astaire, Oscar Peterson, et. al.]
The Complete
Norman Granz Sessions

Amazon iTunes

Notes: As the story goes, when the recording sessions were complete, Astaire presented each of his accompanying musicians with a 24 K gold ID bracelet with the name of the musician on the front and "Fred" on the back.

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Billie Holiday

album: The Quintessential
Billie Holiday, Vol 2.

same track as on album referenced above


Amazon iTunes

Notes: Billie Holiday was only twenty-one when she recorded this track for "The Way You Look Tonight" on Brunswick Records in NYC, October 21, 1936, with Teddy Wilson on piano, Irving 'Mouse' Randolph on trumpet, Vido Musso on clarinet, Ben Webster on tenor sax, Allan Reuss on guitar, Milt Hinton on bass and Gene Krupa on drums. The album is "the second of nine volumes in this essential series (all are highly recommended) [and] continues the complete reissue of Billie Holiday's early recordings (although the alternate takes are bypassed)." (iTunes review).
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album: Peggy Lee
and Benny Goodman:
The Complete Recordings

same track as on album referenced above

Amazon iTunes icon

Notes: A number of commentators have noted that the original score for "The Way You Look Tonight" includes a coda calling for a series of hums at the beginning of the song. Very few singers including Astaire on the soundtrack include these hums. Robert Cushman points out that "a happy exception" is Peggy Lee in her early recording with the Benny Goodman band. "Cool and tingling," Cushman adds, "it's one of the few mementoes of her band singing days that forecasts greatness." And it certainly sounds like Lee hums in harmony with Goodman's clarinet.
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Coleman Hawkins All Stars
with Miles Davis

album: The Great Miles Davis Vol 3

same track as on album referenced above

Amazon iTunes

Notes: Recorded New York City, June 1947, Miles Davis, trumpet; Kai Winding, trombone; Howard Johnson, alto sax; Coleman Hawkins, tenor sax; Hank Jones, piano; Curly Russell, bass; Max Roach, drums. "A buoyantly rhapsodic interpretation" Cushman.
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Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk
album: Thelonious Monk and
Sonny Rollins

Amazon iTunes

Notes: "The two quartet tracks with Art Taylor on drums and Tommy Potter on bass are "The Way You Look Tonight" and "I Want to be Happy." They are worth the price of the album because both Monk and Rollins are in fine form and they work and play well together. In fact, when I first heard this recording, I doubted that I was hearing Monk. I thought that I was hearing a lyrical pianist imitating Monk. Rollins seems to bring Monk out, and he plays longer lines, more lyrical lines without abandoning his characteristic left hand chords and the discords against them in the right hand triplets. (Notice that I said "discords." Monk doesn't play mischords.) So Monk is different and in some respects playing outside of his usual mode. (Dare I say "envelope"?) And Rollins has the great gifts that were eclipsed by the advent of John Coltrane. Rollins' solos on "The Way You Look Tonight" and "I Want To Be Happy" show that he is a great tenor saxophonist, and this album is testimony to his skill" (from Amazon customer Reviewer, George H. Soule).

A second album with more tracks featuring Monk and Rollins and including the "The Way You Look Tonight" can be found at iTunes.
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Mel Tormé

Album: Mel Tormé Sings
Fred Astaire

same track as on album referenced above

Amazon iTunes

Notes: Tormé is accompanied by the Marty Paich Dek-tette on an album that in some releases has been titled Mel Tormé Loves Fred Astaire. "Paich and Tormé is another one of those musical collaborations that was perfect (like Sinatra and Riddle). Marty Paich is a genius arranger. The musicianship on this album is hard to beat. This album swings hard, the band really cooks . . . . turn it up a little and dig the solos - it will have you jumping! The bass line will bring a tear to your eye! . . ." (from Amazon customer reviewer, chenevey).Robert Cushman calls the Tormé/Paich rendition the vocal equivalent of the Monk/Rollins instrumental above, describing Tormé as "sailing through and around a fast West Coast arrangement. . . . There is no uncertainty in Tormé's version, no psychological progression; the drama comes from his exploration of Kern's harmonic possibilities and from the insouciant accuracy of everything he does."

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Dick Haymes
album: The Complete Capitol Collection

same track as on album referenced above

Amazon iTunes icon

Notes: Haymes recording of "The Way You Look Tonight" is originally from the 1957 album Moondreams. "In 1955, Capitol Records signed Dick Haymes and attempted to do for him what it had done for Frank Sinatra a few years earlier, resurrect his career. Due to a combination of personal and business problems, Haymes had fallen far from his mid-'40s peak, when he was a major rival to Sinatra among the new crop of solo singers emerging from the big bands. The Capitol sojourn led to 12 recording sessions between December 20, 1955, and April 4, 1957, that produced two LPs, Rain or Shine and Moondreams, and a few singles, only one of which, "Two Different Worlds," managed a brief stay in the charts. The recordings were out of print for decades, but were championed by some critics, making this thorough two-CD set, compiled by Ken Barnes, a welcome reissue" (from iTunes review).

Haymes, for Robert Cushman, begins somber . . . and he is half way through "The Way You Look Tonight" before he can believe his good fortune. His Final I LOVE you is triumphant (it helps that he can hit the note so ringingly) but the possibility of loss still hovers.

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Ella Fitzgerald
album: Ella Fitzgerald Sings
the Jerome Kern Songbook

same track as on album referenced above

Amazon iTunes icon

Notes: With arrangements by Nelson Riddle, Ella's Kern Songbook is one of the last she made in this gigantic and wonderful Norman Granz produced series -- which is also now included in the massive 16-CD box set The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books.
Video: same track as on both the Kern Songbook and The Complete Songbooks

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(and 1943)
Frank Sinatra
album: Nothing but the Best


same track as on album referenced above

Amazon iTunesicon

Notes: Sinatra first recorded "The Way You Look Tonight" with an Axel Stordahl arrangement as a V-Disc -- View at Amazon.

Sinatra V-Disc album cover

same track as on album referenced just above

The track heard on the first video above was originally recorded for the album Days Of Wine And Roses, Moon River And Other Academy Award Winners (all with Nelson Riddle arrangements) in 1964. The same track also appears on the 2008 Nothing but the Best collection CD. (The iTunes icon album review of Nothing but the Best begins "The remastering of these Frank Sinatra gems gives them such a crisp and clear presence that you could turn up the volume and pretend to have stopped by an upscale supper club in the early 1960s to see him perform").
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Keith Jarrett Trio
album: Standards Live (1986)

Amazon iTunes

Notes: "Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio spread their wings during live performance in as astute and dignified a manner as any group since the similarly sized Bill Evans ensembles of three decades prior. Bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette easily match the Evans bandmates Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian in terms of their telepathy, rhythmic savvy, harmonic ideas and supportive idealism. They propel Jarrett's advanced viewpoint in making well-known American popular songs all his own" from iTunes album review.
Video: Although this is a live recording from about the same time as the track on the album, the video is about two minutes shorter than the track. So unless it is an edited down version, it is not the same performance.

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(also, 1958 and 2011)
Tony Bennett
album: Sings the Ultimate
American Songbook
, Vol 1

Amazon iTunes

Notes: Bennett recorded "The Way You Look Tonight three times: 1958, 1997 and 2011. The recording on this CD is the 1997 version with the Ralph Sharon Trio, the version from the movie of the same year, "My Best Friend's Wedding." The 1958 recording is arranged and led by Frank De Vol and was originally included in the album Long Ago and Far Away. The only digital collection including this performance is Tony Bennett: the Complete Collection. On the Duets 2 album from 2011, Bennett sings "The Way You Look Tonight" with country singer Faith Hill.
1. Visit the Cafe Songbook Lyrics Lounge to listen to the 1997 track as found on the CD pictured above. The video includes streaming lyrics.
2. Bennett live in a concert for BBC One, an intimate performance in the intimate setting of LSO St Lukes, London. He is accompanied by Bruce Barth on piano, Gray Sargent on guitar, Harold Jones on drums and Paul Langosch on double bass. View and listen at YouTube; it's worth it.
3. Visit YouTube/Vevo to listen to the Faith Hill duet (Much ad material to get by first --perhaps not worth it).

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Kenny Rankin
album: A Song for You

album cover: Kenny Rankin, "A Song for You"

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Notes: "The great Kenny Rankin makes a subtle shift in stylistic focus on this label debut, titled A Song for You. The recording shows just how rewarding the marriage of songs from the Great American Songbook with the smooth jazz style can be when played by a talent of Rankin's stature" (from iTunes album review).
Video: In a live/studio performance Rankin conjoins Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" with Kern's and Fields' "The Way You Look Tonight" -- not the same performance as on the album above.

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William Galison & Madeline Peyroux
album: Got You on My Mind (2004)

same track as on album referenced just above

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Notes: Madelyn Peyroux is that great combination of being at once completely distinctive while at the same time comfortable in many genres, the songbook being no exception. Galison is an equally versatile jazz musician heard here on his specialty the harmonica. Kern might have been hard pressed to like this version of his song. The result here is a slightly funk inflected jazz rendition of a standard ballad -- and we love it.
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Michael Bublé
album: Michael Bublé

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Notes: "Unlike most young guys who gravitate towards the latest rock or rap trend, Michael Bublé chose to study the classic works of pop vocal masters like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra while slowly developing his own technique and career as a vocal interpreter. Thanks to producer David Foster, the 25-year-old Bublé has graduated to the big time with a self-titled debut disc that shows off his knowledge and appreciation for a style of music that is mostly unfamiliar to his generation. Swinging his way through a set of pop standards both classic ("The Way You Look Tonight"), and more recent ("Moondance"), Bublé already possesses a quality that reaches beyond his youthfulness, with a voice that incorporates his influences into a sound that is fresh yet familiar" (from iTunes album review).
The video on the Cafe Songbook Main Stage (above) is the live performance from Bublés 2003 AOL sessions in which he is accompanied by his five piece band of the period and is available on the combination CD/DVD set Come Fly With Me.
2. The video below is the track from the 2003 debut CD Michael Bublé shown above.
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Bucky and John Pizzarelli
album: Generations

same track as on album referenced above

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Notes: Bucky Pizzarelli (father) and John Pizzarelli (son) are both extraordinary jazz guitarists but very different in their respective sounds, Bucky with his inimitable delicate chord structures and John with his hard driving solos. That they play together so beautifully here is undoubtedly due to a seamless merger of family closeness and individual musical skills.

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Michael Feinstein
album: The Sinatra Project,
Vol 2 The Good Life.

same track as on album referenced above

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Notes: "Following up 2008's The Sinatra Project, Michael Feinstein's 2011 The Sinatra Project, Vol. 2: The Good Life features more of the urbane and polished singer/pianist's takes on Ol' Blue Eyes' catalog. Featuring both large and small ensembles, here Feinstein takes on a nice selection of both well-known and lesser-known cuts that Sinatra tackled at some point in his storied career" (from iTunes album review).

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