Coming Around Again Podcast: How Louis Armstrong's 'What a Wonderful World' Went From Flop to Signature Song

Louis Armstrong
NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Louis Armstrong

Welcome back to the Coming Around Again podcast, part of the Pop Shop family, where host Andrew Unterberger and a variety of guests discuss notable anniversaries being celebrated in the music world.

This week on Coming Around Again, we're visited by Ricky Riccardi, archivist at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, New York. Ricky talks with Billboard about the 50th anniversary of the song that's endured as the jazz legend's best-remembered: the 1967 ballad "What a Wonderful World."

Despite being remembered today as one of the great pop vocal standards of the later 20th century, Riccardi discusses with Billboard how the song -- intended by Armstrong as an ode to the neighborhood of Corona, Queens, where he lived -- was actually a flop upon its initial release, due to a lack of label support for what was then seen as a dramatic left turn for the singer. However, following a well-selected film soundtrack placement 20 years after the song's release, the song finally entered the public consciousness, and hasn't left in the decades since.

Riccardi also discusses the special exhibit commemorating the song's golden anniversary at the House Museum, and what kind of interesting artifacts and displays fans can find about Armstrong and his now-signature song within. (You can find more about the museum here; the "What a Wonderful World" exhibit is open through October 16.)

Listen below, and be sure to check back every week to see which classic artists, albums and songs are Coming Around Again!

THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.