Famous Jazz Songs from Movies

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Jazz songs are more to be performed than to be listened to. Jazz performance is a visual art. Hollywood has exploited jazz in movies as a side show only because of its focus upon gathering larger audience, though a few exceptions are there. First, jazz performers like Fats Navarro and Albert Avler were not taken in films at all, while only glimpses of Charlie Parker, Bix Beiderbecke, Art Tatum and Clifford can be seen in old movies. Later Jazz artists like Louis Armstrong and swing bandleaders like Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsy, Glenn Miller and Arty Shaw were projected in the latest movies.

1. Route 66

'Get Your Kicks on Route 66'
Get Your Kicks on Route 66

‘Get Your Kicks on Route 66’ popularly known as ‘Route 66’ is a popular blue standard, jazz song, written by Bobby Troup, composed in 1946. Jane Powell performed Route 66 in the 1948 movie ‘Three Daring Daughters’. The Manhattan Transfer recording appeared in 1981 film Sharky’s. The Nile Rogers mix version appeared in the movie ‘Earth Girls are Easy’. It was later on covered by many other artists. Troup thought of writing this song during his travel by road from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles. The song’s lyrics include the US route 66 and the cities falling in its course like St. Louis, Joplin, Oklahoma, Amarillo, Gallup, Flagstaff, Winona, Kingman, Barstow and SanBernardio. The following is a part of the Route 66:

‘If you ever plan to motor west

Travel my way; take the highway that is best.

Get your kicks on route sixty-six

It winds from Chicago to La,

More than two thousand miles all the way,

Get your kicks on route sixty-six

Now you go through Saint Looey

Joplin, Missouri,

And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty,

You see Amarillo,

Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona,

Don’t forget Winona,

Kingsman, Barstow, San Bernandino’.

2. Blue Skies

 Irving Berlin
Irving Berlin

Blue Skies is a popular song written by Irving Berlin in 1926. Blue Skies was the title song of the film ‘Blue Shies’. The song was published in 1927 and Ben Selvin’s recorded version was the hit#1. The same year it was performed by Al Jolson in the movie ‘The Jazz Singer’ and became the first song; featured in a talkie. Mullican sung it in 1939 and Jim Reeves sung it in 1962. It became a major western swing. Willie Nelson’s recording of this song ranked#1 in 1978. Lyrics of the song are indicative of its attraction right from the its start;

‘Blue skies smilin’ at me

Nothin’ but blue skies do I see

Blue bird singin’ a song

Nothin’ but blue birds all day long

Never saw the sun shinin’ so bright

Never saw things goin’ so right,

When you are in love, my how they fly’.

3. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Duke Ellington

‘Don’t get around much anymore’ was written by Duke Ellington and B.B.King. It is a jazz standard song; widely known, performed and recorded by jazz musicians, recorded in 1940 for the first time as;

Missed the Saturday Dance

Heard they crowded the floor

It’s awfully different with you, don’t gat around much anymore

Though I visit the club

I got as far as the door

I just couldn’t bear without you

I don’t get around much anymore

4. It Had to Be You

Isham Jones
Isham Jones

Written by Isham Jones with lyrics by Gus Kahn ‘It Had to Be You’ was a popular song. It was first published in 1924.It was performed in the movie ‘The Roaming Twenties’ by Priscilla Lane in 1939.Danny Thomas performed it in the 1951 movie ‘ I’ll See You in My Dreams’. It has also been performed by Doolie Wilson in the movie Casablanca, and by Betty Hutton in the movie Incendiary Blond. Diane Keaton performed it in the 1977 movie ‘Annie Hall’. Frank Sinatra performed ‘ It had to be you’ as:

”¦It had to be you, it had to be you

I wandered around, and finally found

The somebody who

Could make me blue

And even be glad, just to be sad

Thinking of you

Some others I’ve seen

Might never be mean,

Might never be cross,

Or try to be boss, but they wouldn’t do

For nobody else, gave me a thrill,

With all your faults, I

Love you still,

It had to be you, wonderful you

It had to be you ‘¦’.

5. The Shadow of Your Smile

Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand

‘The Shadow of Your Smile’ was performed in 1966 in the movie ‘ The Sand piper’, and was honored with the Oscar Award mainly in appreciation the jazz song ‘ The Shadow of Your Smile’. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton starred the film. ‘The Shadow of Your Smile’ a version of  Barbra Streisand, written by P.F.Webster & J.Mandel is:

‘The shadow of your smile

When you are gone

Will color all my dreams

And light the dawn’¦

A tear drop kissed your lips and so did I

Now when I remember spring

All the joy that love can bring

I will be remembering

The shadow of your smile’¦’.

6. All the Things You Are

Jerome Kern
Jerome Kern

‘All the Things You Are’ is song written by Oscar Hammerstein and composed by Jerome Kern. It was featured in the movie Broadway Rhythm. It was also performed as theme in the romantic comedy movie A letter for Evie. The song also appears in the 2005 movie Mrs. Henderson Presents. The song ranked # 5 on the record buying guide on Billboard.

7. Dream a Little Dream of Me

Gus Kahn
Gus Kahn

The lyrics of ‘Dream a little dream of me’ were written by Gus Kahn with music by Fabian Andre and Wilburt Schwandt. It was the theme song in the ‘Dream a Little Dream’ movie of 1989. The song ranked #12 at Billboard Hot Hundred. It was sung very sweetly by Bill Goffi in the 1989 movie’ The Dream Team’. Legendary Jazz trumpeter’ Louis Armstrong who popularized jazz in the early twentieth century performed ‘Dream a little dream of me’ in 1931.

‘Say nighty-night and kiss me
Just hold me tight and tell me you’ll miss me
While I am alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me’¦
Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me
Yes, dream a little dream of me’¦’.

8. As Time Goes By

Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra

Here we have a combination of two pinnacles in romance- crooner Frank Sinatra and the movie Casablanca. Although the song was written in 1931, its use in Casablanca exposed millions of people to it for the first time. A newly popular tune, it went on to become a staple among prominent jazz singers such as Sinatra.

9. Laura

Johnny Mercer

Written by Johnny Mercer and composed by David Raksin, Laura is 1945 popular song. It became a jazz standard and has been performed by many other artists like Billy Eckstine, Charlie Parker, J.J.Johnson, Woody Herman and Frank Sinatra. It was adapted from the theme of 1944 movie ‘Laura’ starring Gene Tierney and Danaews.

‘Through the years my dreams may come and go
This fortune is a funny thing
And no one knows what time me bring
And through the highs and lows I know
The one thing I have been living for
Your love
Has kept me going through good and bad times’¦’.

10. What a Wonderful World

What a Wonderful World
What a Wonderful World

Written by Bob Thiele and George David, ‘What a Wonderful World’ was initially recorded by Louis Armstrong. Thiele was a famous producer and Weiss was a famous composer and performer. ‘What a Wonderful World’ was released in 1968 as single for the first time. It gradually became a standard jazz song and was featured in the film ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’. Armstrong’s recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.


1920s was the age of jazz in the US, but in spite of its popularity the older generation considered it threatening to their morals and values. In fact, even now there are some very popular Jazz songs with quite prohibitive lyrics. Jazz is a genre of extremes finding a place in the hearts and minds of people.


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