This Louis Armstrong song, which has become iconic in its usage in movies and TV shows, sold fewer than 1,000 copies in the U.S. when it was released in 1968. The good people of the U.K. heard it differently, however, and took the song to number one across the pond.
“What a Wonderful World” finally made the charts stateside in 1971, when it was released in memoriam following the death of Louis Armstrong. It took an ironic use of the song during depressing scenes in the movie Good Morning, Vietnam (which has been done to death now, producers, so stop already) to take it to the top of the American charts.
Written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss, the optimistic song is only two minutes, seventeen seconds long. For reasons beyond my simple understanding, it’s now being played as a Christmas song. Could it be the first line: “I see trees of green…”? Or is it its general feeling of goodwill toward men (“I see friends shaking hands, say how do you do/They’re really saying ‘I love you.'”)?
Some of the artists who’ve covered the song include: Eddy Arnold, Diana Ross, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Natalie Cole, Eva Cassidy, Anne Murray, Joey Ramone, Coldplay, Sara Brightman, Rod Stewart, Michael Buble, Celine Dion, LeAnn Rimes, and John Legend.