Ten Years Is Not Too Long To Wait To Talk About "Star Dust."

by Brad Kay


I got into a conniption about your and Vince's "Star Dust" remarks, from Bixography, on FaceBook. I spent an hour composing a well-reasoned and informative addendum, posted it, then saw nary a trace of the thread on the main page. I puzzled over it for fifteen more minutes, then finally realized that this "Star Dust" conversation took place in 2007! So my post appears ten years ago. But I put it here also, in hopes that a contemporary person from TODAY also might like it.


After all the analysis, I still am ciphering over the evolution of "Stardust," specifically, its transformation on records, from an esoteric hot jazz number to the most recorded ballad in history. Just to scratch an itch, I tracked its development thusly:

October 31, 1927: Hoagy Carmichael and his Pals. The "Big Bang" premiere. medium-to-uptempo rendition, billed on the label as a "Stomp."

October 13, 1928: Don Redman directs The Chocolate Dandies in Hoagy's arrangement, a similar up-tempo performance.

November 8, 1928: Mills Merry Makers. First slow version. Never gets around to the principal melody! Whose idea was this??

May 15, 1930: Isham Jones and his Orchestra. The definitive Victor Young arrangement, which proves the worth of "Stardust" as a popular ballad, and crystallizes the melody for all time.

Late March, 1931: Fletcher Henderson & his Orchestra. Still an up-tempo instrumental, a throw-back to Hoagy's first arrangement.

May 1, 1931: Mills Blue Rhythm Band, vocal Chick Bullock. Was he the first to record the lyrics? On YouTube, there are two distinctly different versions by the MBRB: a medium-tempo instrumental using much of the original Hoagy arrangement, including the piano paraphrase; and a completely different, much slower version, with Chick's vocal. Are they alternates, or from different sessions?

July 9, 1931: Washboard Rhythm Kings, vocal by Eddie Miles, who doesn't get the timing.

August 12, 1931: Bing Crosby, who DOES get the timing.

November 4, 1931: Louis Armstrong & his Orchestra. Vocal by Louis, who not only gets the timing, but redefines it.

Is this the way y'all see it? Of course, I did not mention EVERY version!

-Brad K

P.S. According to WikiPedia, Mitchell Parrish added the lyrics in 1929. WHY did it take so long to include them on a record?

P.P.S. In his early days as a composer, Hoagy had a habit of never quite defining the melody of a piece. "Washboard Blues" and "Boneyard Shuffle" also were transformed over time.

Posted on Aug 29, 2017, 3:00 AM

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