This has been my all-time favorite BATTLE OF THE BANDS post. I love this song and as far as I’m concerned there was no wrong choice. All four of the versions posted here are great. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad one.
So, let me give you my impressions about each version.
Hoagy Carmichael – I love this type of piano playing. My daddy played in this style. He used to call it a ‘honky-tonk' piano. Hoagy’s version- the original here – is a little more upbeat, mid-tempo, than what we’ve become used to, but that's how he wrote it.
If you didn’t catch it the comment section – I read somewhere that Hoagy initially wasn’t too fond of the slowed down version or the lyrics, but eventually they grew on him and he later re-recorded it.
Nat King Cole – Wikipedia calls this the most popular version of Stardust. A quick glance at the voting here and it appears that you guys agree. Nat voice is so deep and smooth, he lends a dreamy quality to these beautiful lyrics. You really can’t rely on Wikipedia for much, but this is one of the times when they may have gotten is right
Willie Nelson – Need I say more, it's Willie. His album ‘Stardust’ is one of my favorites. I’m not sure I can put my finger on it but with this and all of the old standards included, he quite simply ‘nails it’. I love Willie’s version of Stardust and I may as well tell you right now, he gets my vote.
Satchmo – Another great version that this ‘jazz man’ has made his own. That horn, that voice laced with just the right amount of gravel, it’s perfect. His version reminds me more of the original, a little bit faster, more jazzy. Superb!
This song is so great that Woody Allen devoted a whole movie to it. If you’ve never seen “Stardust Memories’, rent it immediately. (Thank you STMc)
OK, now here is how the voting went:
Hoagy Carmichael 1 vote
Nat King Cole 9 votes
Willie Nelson 4 votes (including mine)
Louis Armstrong 1 vote
It was nice to see that nobody was shut out in this BATTLE. The majority of you agree with Wikipedia, and Nat King Cole is the undisputed winner. Even though he didn’t receive my personal vote, I’m not disappointed. His is a beautiful version.
A few notes: One of the commenters included two votes in their one comment (actually two of you did, if I count the vote phoned in to STMc by Woody Allen, but since Mr. Allen didn’t listen in person, I didn’t count his vote). Because I have no precedent for this, I counted both votes this time. In the future, I will only count one vote per comment. If your significant other, cat, or neighbor want to cast a vote, let them come back with a comment of their own.
Finally, I’m gonna leave you with one more version of ‘Stardust’. Here’s Spanky and Our Gang with an entertaining video and their wonderful rendition of this great song.