Hoagy Carmichael

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

Hoagy Carmichael Pencil Portrait
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Howard Hoagland “Hoagy” Carmichael was an American composer, pianist, singer, actor, and bandleader. He is best known for composing the music for “Stardust”, “Georgia on My Mind”, “The Nearness of You”, and “Heart and Soul,” four of the most-recorded American songs of all time.

Popular music historian Will Friedwald, in his book “Stardust Melodies: The Biography of Twelve of America’s Most Popular Songs,” states that “the correct title is given as two words, ‘Star Dust.’ “

The song, “a song about a song about love,” played in an idiosyncratic melody in medium tempo, became an American standard, and is one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century, with over 1,500 total recordings.

The most widely regarded interpretation is Nat King Cole’s version (Capitol Records 1957), which was revived when it was featured in the 1993 movie ‘Sleepless In Seattle,’ but another notable recording can be found on the superb Reprise album “Sinatra and Strings” – orchestrations by Don Costa. Here, the Chairman of the Board completely ignores the famous chorus beginning with the lines

‘Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely night dreaming of a song’

opting instead to focus solely on the equally distinctive verse;

And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we’re apart
You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by

Carmichael was a little miffed at the time (1961), going on record as saying “I wrote a whole song you know!” but the recording is a fitting testimony to his compositional genius.

“Stardust” represents the rare case of a song in AABA form lacking a refrain. The title appears seemingly incidentally, not as a memorable hook. A deeper understanding of compositional long form can be located at



Hoagy Carmichael - The Official Website