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50 Years of ‘What a Wonderful World’

50 Years of What a Wonderful World | The Nostalgia Diaries Blog

In the late 1960’s, nothing seemed like it was going right; from assassinations to race riots to the Vietnam War, tension was everywhere. It seemed as if the world was falling apart.

In light of this, songwriter George David Weiss and record producer Bob Thiele decided to pen a positive, beautiful song that would provide a welcome respite from these challenging times. The song was called What a Wonderful World, and after Tony Bennett turned down the initial recording offer, Louis Armstrong signed on to record it. Initially released in 1967 as a single, the song didn’t fare so well. But after Armstrong released the song on his What A Wonderful World album in 1968, it gradually gained in popularity.

Over the past 50 years, this simple, memorable song has appeared in over 20 movies, 20 TV shows, and has been recorded by over 200 different artists. With that kind of history, we think it’s pretty safe to say that What A Wonderful World is one of the greatest songs of all time.

Today we’re paying homage to this beloved tune by sharing the version that started it all and then one other version from each decade since the song was first released. We’re partial to Louis’ gorgeous, gravelly voice, but each artist brings their own personal, unique touch to the tune. No matter what version you prefer, one thing definitely remains the same: they each evoke the same wonder and awe that the original recording is famous for. Because with lyrics like these — lyrics that hold a timeless, important message, one that begs us to simply pay attention to the beauty of life — how could they not?

 Which version is your favorite? Did we include it here? Let us know in the comments! 

1960’s | What A Wonderful World – Esther Morrow (1969)


1970’s | What A Wonderful World – The Accents (1970)


1980’s | What A Wonderful World – The BMX Bandits (1986)


1990’s | What A Wonderful World – Eva Cassidy (1996)


2000’s | What A Wonderful World – Dan Zanes (featuring Lou Reed) (2002)


2010’s | What A Wonderful World – Ben Caplan (2013)


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At the The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.

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19 thoughts on “50 Years of ‘What a Wonderful World’

  1. LOVE! Danced the mother-son dance at my oldest son’s wedding to this song. Had to listen to it a couple hundred times before hand to try to not cry ahead of time. <3

  2. This song reminds me of my late grandfather, who used to play Louis Armstrongs’ music and say to us “Isn’t it a wonderful world?” Thanks for sharing, Corey. This one pulled at my heart.

  3. The history of this song is so interesting! I hear it and think of the show “The Wonder Years”. It just makes me think of a more innocent time. Such a classic!

  4. Louis Armstrong all the way! You know, I hadn’t really considered just how many versions of this song were out there. Certainly a classic.

  5. Have you seen the book on Amazon that has beautiful illustrations to go along with the lyrics to the song? We got the board book version and I almost choke up every time I read it to my daughter. Such a beautiful, and timeless message. Thank you for sharing the different versions over the years.

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