Brazil was on the minds of song-loving movie-goers in 1944. The film of the same name was nominated for three Academy Awards that year, including that for Best Song, “Rio de Janeiro.”
Also nominated (and also not winning) was the song from Cover Girl, “Long Ago (and Far Away).”
With music written by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Ira Gershwin, the song was published in 1944 and sold over 600,000 sheet music copies in a year.
Dreary days are over
Life’s a four leaf clover
Sessions of depression are through
Every hope I longed for long ago, comes true
Long ago and far away
I dreamed a dream one day
And now that dream is here beside me
Long the skies were overcast
But now the clouds have passed
You’re here at last!
Chills run up and down my spine
Aladdin’s Lamp is mine
The dream I dreamed was not denied me
Just one look and then I knew
That all I longed for
Long ago was you
In the film it was sung by Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth (with Hayworth dubbed by Martha Mears). The lush tune was so popular there was no shortage of artists who covered it. Charting versions were recorded almost simultaneously by Dick Haymes and Helen Forrest, Jo Stafford, Perry Como and Bing Crosby.
The Dick Haymes-Helen Forrest recording was released by Decca Records. It reached the Billboard Magazine charts on April 27, 1944 and lasted 11 weeks, peaking at #2.
The Jo Stafford recording was released by Capitol Records and first reached the charts on May 4, 1944 peaking at #6 during its 12 weeks there.
The Perry Como a cappella version was released by RCA Victor Records. It first reached the charts on May 11, 1944 and stayed there for three weeks, peaking at #8. Como had to sing without accompaniment due to the 1942 to 1944 strike against the record industry by the American Federation of Musicians. No instruments could be used in new recordings by companies that hadn’t settled with the union, which included his recording label.
The Bing Crosby recording was released by Decca Records. The crooner’s rendition first charted on June 29, 1944 and lasted four weeks, peaking at #5.
Frank Sinatra, Johnny Desmond (singing in German with Glenn Miller and the American Band of the AEF),Guy Lombardo abd His Royal Canadians (vocal: Tony Craig), The Three Suns (Instrumental) and Richard Tauber, Les Brown and His Orchestra with vocals by Doris Day and Judy Garland also recorded it.
And that was just 1944!
Many more artists went on to record the now classic song from the Great American Songbook:
Johnny Mathis — includes beginning verse
Rod Stewart –also included the verse
Mario Lanza – 1951
The Hi-Lo’s – 1955
The Four Lads – 1956
Shirley Jones & Jack Cassidy – 1959
Vicky Lane – 1959
Bev Kelly – 1960
Gloria Lynne – 1960
Jackie Paris – 1960
Margaret Whiting – 1960- she also sings the verse
Pat Boone – 1964
The Migil 5 – 1964
Robert Goulet – 1965
Cliff Richard – 1965
Rosemary Clooney – 1979
Peggy King – 1984
Marian McPartland – 1985
Marni Nixon – 1988
Elisabeth Welch – 1989
Kiri Te Kanawa – 1993
Meredith d’Ambrosio – 1996
Lesley Garrett – 1996
Jeanie Lambe – 1998
Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Robert Goulet, Johnny Hartman, Johnnie Ray, Billy Eckstine, Vera Lynn, Joni James; Leslie Hutchinson; Marion Montgomery; Henry Mancini & His Orch; Chet Baker, Johnny Ray; Ronnie Aldrich & His Orch; Bob Crosby & His Orch; Ambrose & His Orch; Frank Chacksfield & His Orch; Richard Clayderman; Tommy Dorsey; The Four Freshmen; Erroll Garner; Oscar Peterson; George Shearing; Ron Goodwin; Stephane Grappelli; Stan Kenton & His Orch; London Philharmonic Orch; Sally Martin; Paul Weston & His Orch; Percy Faith & His Orch; Julie Kelly; Salena Jones; Mantovani & His Orch; Acker Bilk; Dorothy Kirsten; Benny Carter; Michael Feinstein; Amália Rodrigues; Kay Kyser & His Orch, Sonny Rollins,……….. and many others.
Please post in the comments which one is your favorite.