It’s been several months since our last Fantastic Foursome, so I’ll remind everyone that it’s the Special Feature that presents a classic song in its definitive version and then gives you four different variations. You can listen to them and – if you’d like – vote for your favorite.
We seem to be featuring music from World War II quite a bit lately and we’re doing more of the same today, with a song written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon (based on a poem by a young war bride). “You’ll Never Know” actually made its debut in the 1943 movie Hello, Frisco, Hello, where it was performed by Alice Faye. It won the Oscar for best song and she sang it again the following year in Four Jills in a Jeep, but even though it was considered by some to be her signature song, she didn’t make a record of it at the time.
That left an opening for crooners Dick Haymes and Frank Sinatra to cut records, although both had to do so with only a chorus behind them because musicians were on strike at the time. As an interesting side note, Sinatra’s chorus — the Bobby Tucker Singers — was sort of anonymous at the time, but Haymes was backed by the Song Spinners and the group made it on the label with him. Of course, “Coming In on a Wing and a Prayer” had hit #1 for the combo just before that, so that might have had something to do with it.
In any case, both versions did well but Haymes ended up with a #1 record so let’s say his is the gold standard. Other notable versions have included those by the Harry James band with a vocal by Rosemary Clooney, along with British songstress Vera Lynn, Doris Day, and even – much later – Alice Faye. In later years the song has been covered by everybody from a 13-year-old Barbra Streisand to Rod Stewart.
Here’s a video of “You’ll Never Know” by Dick Haymes, which I’ve nominated as the definitive version. Below that are four variations for you to enjoy, and you can then vote for your favorite.
Rosemary Clooney (w/ H. James) – Vera Lynn – Frank Sinatra – Rod Stewart