About the song

Ah, What a Wonderful World, a song that transcends generations and cultures. Even the most casual listener recognizes its opening notes, a gentle trumpet heralding a melody that instantly uplifts the spirit. But to truly appreciate this masterpiece, we must delve deeper, into the story of the song itself and the legendary voice that brought it to life.

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Composed in 1967 by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss, What a Wonderful World arrived at a time of immense social and political unrest. The Vietnam War raged on, the Civil Rights Movement pressed for equality, and a sense of disillusionment hung heavy in the air. And yet, here was this song, a beacon of optimism amidst the storm.

Thiele, a songwriter and record producer, originally envisioned the song for a different artist. However, a chance encounter with Louis Armstrong, a true icon of American music, changed everything. Armstrong, with his instantly recognizable gravelly voice and infectious grin, had already carved a unique path in jazz. He was a master of improvisation, his trumpet solos as captivating as his smooth vocals. But there was another side to Armstrong, a deep well of humanity and empathy that resonated with audiences across racial and social divides.

When Armstrong was presented with What a Wonderful World, something clicked. The song’s simple yet evocative lyrics, celebrating the beauty of nature, human connection, and everyday life, resonated perfectly with his own outlook. His rendition wasn’t just a performance; it was a heartfelt testament to the power of finding joy in the simple things.

What a Wonderful World starts unassumingly, a lone trumpet backed by a gentle piano. Armstrong’s voice enters, warm and reassuring, as he paints a picture with words: “I see trees of green, red roses too…” Each line is a brushstroke, building a vibrant tableau of a world teeming with life. The melody is deceptively simple, a lullaby that soothes even as it uplifts.

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There’s a childlike wonder in Armstrong’s delivery. He marvels at the colors of the rainbow, the friends shaking hands, the babies crying and growing. In his eyes, these everyday occurrences are miracles, testaments to the beauty inherent in our existence.

What a Wonderful World wasn’t an immediate success. Released in 1967, it failed to make a significant impact on the charts. However, the song found new life in the following decade. It was featured in the 1987 film Good Morning, Vietnam, a powerful portrayal of the war that ironically used the song as a counterpoint to the harsh realities it depicted. This exposure introduced What a Wonderful World to a new generation, and it quickly became an anthem of peace and hope.

Today, What a Wonderful World remains a timeless classic. It’s a song that transcends genre and language, a reminder to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us, even in the darkest of times. And whenever we hear those opening trumpet notes, we can’t help but be transported to a world painted in warm hues, a world where, as Armstrong sings, “I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

Video

Lyrics

What a wonderful world

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day and the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ “How do you do?”
They’re really saying “I love you”

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I hear babies cryin’,and I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

What a wonderful world
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world