If I ask my peers now if they’ve ever heard of the song “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing),” most of them would probably not know what song I am talking about. However, I can guarantee that after hearing the first few seconds of the song, a switch will turn on and they will recognize the song. I can guarantee this because the fame of this song is absolutely undeniable.
From the time it was first written and recorded, “Sing, Sing, Sing” has been frequently used as a soundtrack in numerous films, television shows, etc. A recent example of its inclusion in popular culture is Quest Crew’s choreographed dance routine to the song at a charity show broadcasted on MTV (click here to watch them perform.) It is evident that “Sing, Sing, Sing” is still widely enjoyed across generations.
But how did such a successful song come about? The man credited for composing “Sing, Sing, Sing” is Louis Prima. Prima, an actor, singer, songwriter, and trumpeter, first wrote and recorded the song with the New Orleans Gang in March of 1936. Unfortunately for Prima and the New Orleans Gang, the most famous version of the song was arranged by Jimmy Mundy and performed by Benny Goodman just a year later (click here to watch Goodman and his band perform “Sing, Sing, Sing” in the film Hollywood Hotel (1937).
Jimmy Mundy was an American jazz tenor saxophonist, arranger, and composer, best known for his arrangements for Count Basie, Earl Hines, and of course, Benny Goodman. Goodman, also known as “King of Swing,” was an astounding clarinetist who led one of the most popular (and racially-diverse) musical groups in America. The new version was recorded in Hollywood in 1937 and included many changes like the omission of vocals. One thing that they did not change from the original was the distinct drumming that goes on throughout the song. It is noteworthy that the success of their version of “Sing, Sing, Sing” came as no surprise because fans had already enjoyed it since they had already begun performing it a year earlier. The success of the song was amplified when they performed it at the 1938 Carnegie Hall jazz concert, which is often regarded as the most significant concerts in jazz history.
Though many people now might not know the title, composer, arranger, or performers of “Sing, Sing, Sing,” the distinct and unforgettable tune ensures that the song is here to stay.
(If you are feeling extra curious about the song, click here for the full 8 minute and 43 second recording.)
- Debbie Yiu