THE 1000 BEST SONGS IN THE WORLD EVER.
370-Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra-It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing.)
1932-Has Never charted in the UK. There was no UK chart until 1952.
Best Bit-At 2.43.’For there’s Basie, Miller, Satchmo, and the king of all, Sir Duke.’
It is likely that this song was the first to use the term ‘Swing,’ and therefore this song is responsible for the genre of music that was to become known as ‘Swing Music.’
Edward Kennedy Ellington was born on April 29th, 1899, in Washington D.C. United States, he died from complications from lung cancer, and pneumonia on May 24th, 1974, at the age of 75. Ellington’s mother Daisy sent him to piano lessons at the age of seven, she would teach him good manners, and always make sure that he was immaculately turned out, which led to his friend Edgar McEntree nicknaming him ‘Duke.’ Ellington was a prolific writer, and wrote well over 1000 songs. The American composer and historian Gunther Schuller (1925-2015) wrote in 1989, ‘Ellington composed incessantly to the very last days of his life, music was indeed his mistress. In Jazz he was a giant among giants, and in 20th Century music he may yet one day be recognised as one of the half dozen greatest masters of our time.’
‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing.’) was written in 1931 by Duke Ellington, (music) (see also best songs 1039) and Irving Mills (1894-1985) (lyrics.) Mills was born Irving Harold Mills, and at one time was Ellington’s manager, he was also a music publisher, musician, and Jazz music promoter. The unaccredited vocals on the track are provided by Ivie Anderson, (1904-1949) she was a charismatic performer who was a mainstay of the ‘Duke Ellington Orchestra’ between 1931-1942, she had to leave the music business due to chronic asthma, which also caused her premature death in 1949.
The song has been recorded by dozens of other artists down the years. Significant versions include Louis Armstrong, and The Mills Brothers, who both recorded the song in 1932. In 1967 Ella Fitzgerald (who would record and perform the song on many occasions) teamed up with Duke Ellington for the live Album ‘Ella and Duke at the Cote D’Azur.’ In 1973 Ellington named his final studio Album ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,’ where he revisited many of his older songs, this time the vocals were provided by Teresa Brewer (1931-2007.)
‘It makes no difference if it’s sweet or hot. Just give that rhythm everything you’ve got. Doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo,ah.’