"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.
It was also covered by Otis Redding on his album Otis Blue.
David Bromberg covered the song on the 1975 album Midnight on the Water.
It was covered on the 1980 album Boys Only by UK power pop band The Boys.
The track was covered by Terence Trent D'Arby as a "B-side" on a rare 7" vinyl EP in the late 1980s.
It was again covered in 2005 by Scottish crooner Jim Diamond on The Blues Shoe EP.
In August 2008, a parody version of the song was featured in a high-profile political advertisement from the Barack Obama for President campaign. The lyrics were altered to satirize John McCain's lack of knowledge on economic issues ("Don't know much about industry…").
Jesse Malin covered the song on his 2008 covers album On Your Sleeve.
Joan Baez frequently includes an acoustic version of the song in her concerts.
* Written by Sam Cooke, Lou Adler, and Herb Alpert.
* Produced by Sam Cooke.
* Instrumentation by Rene Hall (arrangement), Adolphus Asbrook (bass), Ronald Selico (drums), and Cliff White (guitar).
* Background vocals by Lou Rawls.
* Engineering by Deano Lappas.
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