Meaning of “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

What a Wonderful World is a song performed by American trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong. The lyrics of the song talk about the beautiful things of the world such as the blue skies, the beautiful colors of the rainbow, the warmth and friendlessness people show each other, the lovely cries of babies, etc. Despite the numerous heartbreaking things that happen around us on a daily basis, the song’s lyrics try to make the listener understand that despite the ugly part of the world, the world also has beautiful side that is totally worth appreciating.

Owing to the sheer power and beauty of the song, it has over the years been used to try to bring people of different races together.

Facts about “What a Wonderful World”

  • Contrary to popular belief, What a Wonderful World wasn’t written by Louis Armstrong. The song was written by record producer Bob Thiele and songwriter George David Weiss.
  • Despite being one of the most famous songs in the world, the song was initially not popular when it was first released simply because Armstrong’s record company didn’t like it and did not invest resources into promoting it. However, the song went on to become a huge hit in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart.
  • When the song topped the UK Singles Chart, Armstrong made history by becoming the oldest male artist to achieve that feat. Armstrong was 66 years and 10 months old then.
  • Not only did the song top the charts in the United Kingdom, but it also became the most successful single in the United Kingdom in 1968.
  • The song only became uber-famous in the United States in the latter part of 1987 and early 1988 (about 20 years after its release)when it was featured in the famous 1987 military comedy-drama Good Morning, Vietnam starring Robin Williams.
  • Before being recorded by Louis Armstrong, the song was initially given to American singer Tony Bennett to record, but Bennett turned the song down. Interestingly, after the song became a massive global hit, Bennett would later cover it multiple times throughout his career.
  • The song was the last song American singer Eva Cassidy performed before her shocking death at the age of 33 in 1996.

Which artists have covered What a Wonderful World?

The song is one of the most covered songs in the music industry. Over the years, it has been covered by the multitudes of famous musicians, including the following:

  • American singer Roy Clark in 1989.
  • Australian singer-songwriter and author Nick Cave in 1992. Cave covered the song with Irish-British singer-songwriter Shane MacGowan.
  • Legendary Native Hawaiian musician and activist Israel Kamakawiwoʻole in 1990 released a powerful medley of What A Wonderful World and the song Over the Rainbow (written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburgunder) under the title Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.
  • English soprano and musician Sarah Brightman in 2003.
  • Canadian power house Céline Dion in 2004.
  • British musician Rod Stewart featuring American singer Stevie Wonder in 2004. The song appeared in Steward’s Grammy Award winning album Stardust: The Great American Songbook, Volume III.
  • Georgian-British singer and songwriter Katie Melua featuring the vocals of the late Eva Casidy in 2007.

 

4 Responses

  1. Enzo says:

    But what about the definition of the lyrics. “They learn much more than I ever know” is a very powerful phrase in this song. Its about the fact that he wont be around to see what the world is like in 50 years time about his own mortality. This song along with ones like Procol Harum Whiter Shade of Pale have a lot more meaning than just 99% of the songs that are written about love. Although some of the songs in the 50s on love such as doowoop are wonderful and tell good stories even those by Sam Cooke.

  2. Lunadette says:

    And i thought the colors of the rainbow part and the friends actually meaning they love each other. I thought that was a sign of pride and LGBTQ+ stuff….

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