Louis Armstrong would be 107 today.
Here it is -- the first time I've posted twice in a single day. But it's Satchmo's birthday, and I have a lot of things I want to say about the best Louis Armstrong file on my hard drive. (This recording courtesy of my excellent brother, who also took that Mike Doughty picture from a few days ago.)
This is a 1970 recording of "What A Wonderful World," featuring Oliver Nelson's orchestra and a bittersweet spoken intro. Two years after his original version was a major UK hit, Louis went into a studio and laid down this record, clarifying the song as hopeful rather than triumphant.
The spoken intro is so sad, yet so hopeful. It speaks to the heartbroken youths of 1970, and to the adults who had always liked Louis Armstrong. It speaks to the hopes Louis (and the songwriters) had for humanity during what seemed to be one of its deepest crises. It speaks to all of us who get depressed with how wonderful the world is definitely not, and then Louis starts singing, and all that pain is somehow lessened. This recording is musically more upbeat than the original version, which can be a little jarring, but hang in there.
I have other versions of this song laying around in various places, but none of them can hold a candle to Pops here.
Happy birthday, Satch.