Wonderful World (2:05)

Cover of The Man and His Music

From The Man and His Music and 267 other releases

“Wonderful World” (sometimes referred to as “(What a) Wonderful World”, was written in the late 1950s by soul music pioneer Sam Cooke along with songwriters Lou Adler and Herb Alpert, although at first attributed to the pseudonym Barbara Campbell which was the maiden name of Cooke’s mother, and first recorded by Cooke in 1959 for Cooke’s self-titled debut album. The song was released as a single in 1960, reaching #12 in the US and #27 in the UK. A bouncy love song, the lyrics have the singer disavowing knowledge of academic subjects (the song is often referred to informally by its first line, “Don’t know much about history”), but affirming the object of his affection “but I do know that I love you”. Herman’s Hermits had major hit with an uptempo version of the song (omitting one verse) in the mid-1960s, which reached #4 in the U.S. and #7 in the UK. The Hermits’ version was, according to singer Peter Noone and guitarist Keith Hopwood, done as a tribute to Cooke upon his untimely death.

In 2004, the song was placed 373rd in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The song has been covered by many artists, including the aforementioned Herman’s Hermits, Richard Marx, Greg Chapman, and Art Garfunkel (who performed a cover of the song on his 1977 album Watermark, with harmonies by James Taylor and Paul Simon). Johnny Nash had a UK hit with his cover of the song in 1976.

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