Carol Sloane: My Foolish Heart


The song My Foolish Heart had a hard birth. Written by Victor Young with lyrics by Ned Washington, My Foolish Heart was first sung by Martha Mears in the 1949 film of the same name. Mears was the singing voice of many film actresses, including Marjorie Reynolds in the debut of White Christmas in the 1942 movie Holiday Inn. In My Foolish Heart, though, Mears sings while playing the role of a nightclub singer. The film centers on a woman who looks back on the her true love, whom she met and lost years earlier.

Here’s Mears singing the song in the film (go to 37:09)…

When My Foolish Heart was released, Bosley Crowther in The New York Times savaged the film: "Perhaps if the period of this story were, let’s say, the Civil War and the desperate young lady of the romance were dressed in crinolines, the naïvely sentimental treatment which Mr. Goldwyn and his boys have given it would be entirely appropriate to the spirit and custom of that age." Time magazine’s review went further and took a few shots at the song’s sap content.


As a footnote, My Foolish Heart was adapted from a New Yorker magazine short story by J.D. Salinger, who was mortified by the film for veering way off course from his original story (entitled Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut). The film and its brutal reviews may have been responsible for Salinger’s reclusiveness in the years ahead.

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While the reviewers were spot-on when it came to the film (starring Susan Hayward and Dana Andrews), they overreached by trashing the song, which wound up being nominated for best music and song Oscars. In the decades that followed, My Foolish Heart was covered by virtually every pop singer. In Tom Lord’s Jazz Discography alone, the song has been recorded 828 times, starting with Billy Eckstine in 1949. No male vocalist has ever matched Eckstine’s splendidly emotional rendition. Go here


On the female-vocalist side, the finest version of the song was recorded in Japan by Carol Sloane for her album As Time Goes By, (1982). She was backed by Don Abney (p) Yukinori Narushige (b) and Tim Horner (d). It’s exquisite, sexy and beautifully styled by Carol, with perfect phrasing and pacing…

My Foolish Heart

To read my five-part JazzWax interview with Carol Sloane, go here. To visit Carol’s site, go here.

JazzWax tracks: You’ll find Carol Sloane’s As Time Goes By here.


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