I Left my Heart in San Francisco
When Tony Bennett finally leaves this earth to meet his maker he will rise to heaven with the strains of this song playing in the background. "I Left my Heart in San Francisco" will forever be associated with Tony as one of the most recognizable signature songs ever devised. Written in 1954 by George Cory and Douglass Cross it was originally released as a single by Bennett as the (surprisingly) B side to "Once Upon a Time." The A side was summarily dismissed as DJs all over America flipped the record over to play San Francisco. (Think...Can you hum the tune to "Once Upon a Time?")
In his concerts in the 2000s, Bennett typically performs the song mid-way through his set, after which the house lights are turned up while the audience engages in extended applause. When that finally subsides, the house lights go down and the show resumes.
The many accolades this song has received include an RIAA (Recording Industry of America) ranking of 23rd of the most historically significant songs of the 20th century, gold record status in 1962, a grammy award for record of the year in 1963, as well as Best Male Solo Vocal Performance in the same year.
The song has been recorded by myriad artists, including Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and others, with the version by rhythm and blues singer Bobby Womack making the chart for Minit Records, peaking at #48 on the Billboard R&B singles chart in 1969. In that same year, the song was adopted by the City and County of San Francisco as one of its two official anthems, the other being the title song from the 1936 film San Francisco.
I always wanted to do this tune but I felt it was a bit sacrosanct...plus...it's difficult. So without being irreverent here's my rendition of this fabulous number...
-Brian K. Forrest