Swinging on a Star – 1944

“Swinging on a Star” is an American pop standard with music composed by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Johnny Burke. It was introduced by Bing Crosby in the 1944 film Going My Way, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song that year, and has been recorded by numerous artists since then. In 2004 it finished at #37 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.

Songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen was at Crosby’s house one evening for dinner, and to discuss a song for the movie Going My Way. During the meal one of the children began complaining about how he didn’t want to go to school the next day. The singer turned to his son and said to him, “If you don’t go to school, you might grow up to be a mule. Do you wanna do that?”

Van Heusen thought this clever rebuke would make a good song for the movie. He pictured Crosby, who played a priest, talking to a group of children acting much the same way as his own child had acted that night. Van Heusen took the idea to his partner lyricist Johnny Burke, who approved. They wrote the song.


The first recording of “Swinging on a Star”, with Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra, took place in Los Angeles on February 7, 1944, and was released as Decca Records on Disc No. 18597 paired with “Going My Way”. the Williams Brothers Quartet, including a young Andy Williams, sang backup vocals behind Crosby.

Some additional recordings:

1956: Oscar Peterson on his album At the Stratford Shakespearean Festival
1959: Shari Lewis and her puppets on her album Hi Kids
1960: Mark Murphy on his album Hip Parade
1963: Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva (reached Number 7 in the UK Singles Chart in January 1964)
1964: Burl Ives on his album Chim Chim Cheree and Other Children’s Choices
1964: Frank Sinatra on his album Sinatra Sings Days of Wine and Roses, Moon River, and Other Academy Award Winners
1964: Richard Anthony “À toi de choisir” (french cover)
1968: Dave Van Ronk on his album Dave Van Ronk and the Hudson Dusters
1974: Lena Zavaroni on her album Ma! (He’s Making Eyes At Me)
1975: Maureen McGovern on her album Academy Award Performance: And the Envelope, Please
1978: Rosemary Clooney on her Bing Crosby tribute album Rosie Sings Bing
1980: Joanie Bartels on her album Sillytime Magic
1981: Franciscus Henri on his children’s album Sunshine Rainbows and Violins
1992: Michael Feinstein on his album Pure Imagination
1993: Dave McKenna on his album Handful of Stars
1996: Maria Muldaur on the album A Child’s Celebration Of Folk Music
1998: Tony Bennett on his album Tony Bennett: The Playground
1999: Ruby Braff on his album In The Wee, Small Hours
2000: Adam Bomb on his album Get Animal 1
2002: Susan Johnson on her album Previously Unreleased Live Performances
2008: Clare Teal as a B-side on the Children in Need album BandAGEd: Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth
2012: Andy Wright as a first single cover release.