Jazz Standards.com : Jazz Standards : Songs : History : Biographies
Home Overview Songs Biographies History Theory Search Bookstore About

In the Still of the Night (1937)

Visitor Comments
Share your comments on this tune...
Origin and Chart Information
“The song’s long, seventy-two-measure refrain was put together in such a strange fashion...that [Nelson Eddy] found the number difficult to sing and asked Cole to create another one for him in its place.”

- Charles Schwartz

Rank 209
Words and Music Cole Porter

The 1928 Broadway production of Rosalie starred Marilyn Miller and featured music by operetta composer Sigmund Romberg with lyrics by P.G. Wodehouse and additional songs by George and Ira Gershwin.

When a film of the musical comedy was proposed in 1937, Cole Porter was assigned to write new music and lyrics. None of the songs from the original Broadway production were used in the film, but Louis B. Mayer chose to keep the outdated book. According to Roy Hemming in his book The Melody Lingers On: The Great Songwriters and Their Movie Musicals Mayer also hired one of the book’s coauthors as producer with instructions to salvage as much footage as possible from an aborted 1930 film starring Marion Davies. Despite Porter’s music, “The film that finally emerged remains one of the dullest, drippiest, most overproduced spectacles that MGM or anyone else made in the ‘30s,” says Hemming.

 

More on Cole Porter at JazzBiographies.com
 

“In the Still of the Night” was introduced by Nelson Eddy in Porter’s Rosalie. The plot of the film revolved around a college football hero (Eddy) and a Vassar student who is really the princess of a small country (Eleanor Powell). They fall in love and when Eddy visits her country, believing her to be a peasant, the king (James Gleason) and queen (Edna May Oliver) agree to help him find the woman he loves.

Eddy objected to “In the Still of the Night” because, as Charles Schwartz reports in Cole Porter: A Biography, “The song’s long, seventy-two-measure refrain was put together in such a strange fashion...that he found the number difficult to sing and asked Cole to create another one for him in its place.” However, instead of deferring to the performer’s request, Cole decided to play the song for producer L.B. Mayer and let him decide. Mayer was so touched by the song’s sentimentality that he cried. Obviously the song stayed and Eddy not only willingly sang it but made it a part of his repertoire. The song rose to number 10 on Your Hit Parade for a week.

Cole’s lyrics express the thoughts of a lovestruck young man yearning for his girl:

In the still of the night
as I gaze from my window
at the moon in its flight
my thoughts all stray to you.

Porter’s song (not to be confused with the Fred Parris song of the same title recorded by the Five Satins or the song of the same title composed by Hoagy Carmichael) charted three times, the last in a doo-wop version:

  • Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra (1937, Jack Leonard, vocal, #3)
  • Leo Reisman and His Orchestra (1937, Lee Sullivan, vocal, #9)
  • Dion and the Belmonts (1960, #38)
 

Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954
 

“In the Still of the Night” was featured in the 1946 film version of Porter’s life, Night and Day starring Cary Grant. Singer Della Reese’s first release in 1953 was “In the Still of the Night” and sold half a million copies. The song, performed by the Neville Brothers, was included in the 1991 CD Red, Hot and Blue to benefit AIDS research and relief.

Vocal groups have favored the song; it’s been recorded by the Lettermen, the Four Freshmen, the Four Lads, the Four Tops, the Singers Unlimited and others. Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Betty Carter, and Charles Mingus all recorded the tune. Recent jazz interpretations have been recorded by saxophonist Eric Alexander, vocalists Carol Sloane, Stacey Kent, and Jane Monheit, guitarist Bruce Forman, and pianists David Kikoski and Bill Charlap.

More information on this tune...

Philip Furia
The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America's Great Lyricists
Oxford University Press; Reprint edition
Paperback: 336 pages


(Author/educator Furia offers an analysis of the song’s lyric in his book on great lyricists.)

- Sandra Burlingame

Musicians' Comments

I like to play a bunch of different instruments including piano and guitar and I particularly enjoy doing this song.

“In the Still of the Night” has a kind of chordal resolution which, I think, laid the foundation for much of the R&B and Soul music that was to follow. I don’t know--I may be wrong.

At the same time, the lyrics, which are tremendously important, have that air of romance in them, something that is virtually nonexistent in music today.

Great song and thanks for sharing information on it!

Arjun Kaul, pianist and guitarist
www.arjunkaul.tk


Are you a published Vocalist or Instrumentalist?

Add a comment and we'll credit you with a link to your site. (more...)

Reading and Research
Additional information for "In the Still of the Night" may be found in:

Philip Furia
The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America's Great Lyricists
Oxford University Press; Reprint edition
Paperback: 336 pages


(1 page including the following types of information: lyric analysis.)

David Ewen
American Songwriters: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary
H. W. Wilson
Hardcover: 489 pages


(1 paragraph including the following types of information: history and performers.)

Alec Wilder
American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950
Oxford University Press; Reprint edition
Hardcover: 576 pages


(2 paragraphs including the following types of information: music analysis.)

Thomas S. Hischak
The American Musical Film Song Encyclopedia
Greenwood Press
Hardcover: 536 pages


(1 paragraph including the following types of information: summary, lyric analysis and music analysis.)

Charles Schwartz
Cole Porter: A Biography
Da Capo Press; 1st Pbk edition
Paperback: 365 pages


(1 paragraph including the following types of information: anecdotal and history.)

Robert Kimball, Brendan Gill
Cole: A Biographical Essay
Overlook Press
Hardcover: 283 pages


(Includes the following types of information: song lyrics.)

Robert Gottlieb, Robert Kimball
Reading Lyrics
Pantheon
Hardcover: 736 pages


(Includes the following types of information: song lyrics.)

Roy Hemming
The Melody Lingers On: The Great Songwriters and Their Movie Musicals
Newmarket Pr; Reprint edition
Paperback


(1 paragraph including the following types of information: anecdotal. (Page 161).)
Also on This Page...

Musician's Comments
Reading & Research

Jazz History Notes
By the Same Writers...

Jazz History Notes

In the fine box set Bird: Complete on Verve there are seven takes of “In the Still of the Night” from a 1953 session by alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. Gil Evans’ arrangement gives plenty of solo space for Parker to stretch out, although the vocal by the Dave Lambert Singers seems out-of-place and superfluous. In listening to the seven takes in order (Parker is on five), one can get a sense of how a great recording comes together.

The saxophone became the premier woodwind instrument of bebop and later styles of jazz, leaving the clarinet behind as few clarinetists could make the instrument sound as flowing as the saxophone within the newer music. Buddy DeFranco started out as a Benny Goodman disciple and then embraced the sounds of bebop, successfully working within the milieu. His 1956 recording for Verve of Broadway show tunes includes a number of standards and a fine “In the Still of the Night.” Sadly the album has not been reissued on CD.

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian


Charlie Parker
Bird: Complete on Verve
Polygram Records 37141

iTunes
Written by the Same Composer(s)...
This section shows the jazz standards written by the same writing team.

Cole Porter

Year Rank Title
1930 8 What Is This Thing Called Love?
1930 30 Love for Sale
1932 33 Night and Day
1935 74 Just One of Those Things
1944 119 I Love You
1936 122 Easy to Love
1934 139 I Get a Kick Out of You
1936 160 I've Got You Under My Skin
1942 188 You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To
1937 209 In the Still of the Night
1944 220 Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye
1935 247 Begin the Beguine
1953 279 It's All Right with Me
1939 290 I Concentrate on You
1954 356 All of You
1950 390 From This Moment On
1938 410 Get Out of Town
1948 443 So in Love (Am I)
1934 509 All Through the Night
1953 553 I Love Paris
1938 584 My Heart Belongs to Daddy
1929 734 You Do Something to Me
1934 754 Anything Goes
1941 773 Ev'rything I Love
1928 797 Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)
1937 909 At Long Last Love
1941 910 Dream Dancing
1937 939 Rosalie
1934 940 You're the Top

Copyright 2005-2012 - JazzStandards.com - All Rights Reserved      Permission & contact information

Home | Overview | Songs | Biographies | History | Theory | Search | Bookstore | About