Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is a show tune written by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for the 1933 musical Roberta. The song was sung in the Broadway show by Tamara Drasin. Its first recorded performance was by Gertrude Niesen, who recorded the song with orchestral direction from Ray Sinatra, Frank Sinatra's second cousin,[1] on October 13, 1933. Niesen's recording of the song was released by Victor, with the B-side, "Jealousy", featuring Isham Jones and his Orchestra.[2]

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"
Single by Gertrude Niesen with Ray Sinatra and his Orchestra
RecordedOctober 13, 1933
Producer(s)Ray Sinatra

Paul Whiteman had the first hit recording of the song on the record charts in 1934.[3]

The song was reprised by Irene Dunne, who performed it in the 1935 film adaptation of the musical co-starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Randolph Scott. The song was also included in the 1952 remake of Roberta, Lovely to Look At, in which it was performed by Kathryn Grayson, and was a number 1 chart hit in 1958 for The Platters.

Later recordings


Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra performed the song with vocals by Bob Lawrence. This version of the song topped music charts in 1934.[4] The Tommy Dorsey orchestra released their version in 1938. The B-side to Dorsey's single was "Night and Day". During the mid-to-late 1930s Larry Adler and Henry Hall recorded live radio performances of the song on BBC Radio. Adler's rendition was a syncopated, harmonic arrangement. Hall's was with the BBC orchestra with vocals by Dan Donovan. Hall's version was released as a 10" single.[5] Pianist Art Tatum said in an introduction in 1955 that he performed "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" in the 1930s.

In 1941 the Benny Goodman Orchestra played the song on the radio with Helen Forrest. Forrest left the ensemble during the early part of 1941.[6] Goodman replaced her with Peggy Lee.[7] Her recording for a Mutual broadcast was released on the album Benny and Sid Roll 'Em. Glenn Miller conducted his rendition of the song at Abbey Road Studios in 1944, but due to his death later that year, his version was unreleased until 1995.[8]

On October 30, 1946 Nat "King" Cole recorded the song in his trio with Oscar Moore on guitar and Johnny Miller on double bass during a live broadcast from New York City.[9] Cole performed it on television in 1957 for The Nat King Cole Show.

Harry Belafonte made a recording of the song in 1949 with jazz saxophonist Zoot Sims. This was one of Belafonte's first recordings. Sims' performance was parodied on December 10, 1977 on The Muppet Show by the character he inspired.

The song was covered by Nat King Cole (left), Jo Stafford (center), and Sarah Vaughan (right).

In 1950 Charlie Parker and Jo Stafford each released versions of the song on their respective albums, Bird at St. Nick's and Autumn in New York. Dinah Washington released the song in 1956, on her album Dinah!. Jeri Southern named her 1957 album When Your Heart's On Fire after a lyric from the song; the album features her version of the song. The same year as Nat King Cole's televised performance of the song, Polly Bergen performed the song during the series premiere of her variety show The Polly Bergen Show, originally airing September 21, 1957.[10] In 1958 Sarah Vaughan released her rendition on her album, No Count Sarah. Eartha Kitt recorded "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" with the Henri Rene Orchestra in 1952. These sessions also yielded her hit single "Santa Baby".

The Platters version

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"
Single by The Platters
from the album Remember When?
B-side"No Matter What You Are"
Released1958 (1958)
Composer(s)Jerome Kern
Lyricist(s)Otto Harbach
Producer(s)Buck Ram[11]
The Platters singles chronology
"I Wish"
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" was recorded in 1958 by The Platters for their album Remember When?. The group's version became a number one hit in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart. In 1959 it peaked at No. 3 on the Rhythm and Blues chart.[12] The song spent 20 weeks on the UK charts, peaking at Number 1 for one week on 20 March of that same year.[13] Buck Ram, the producer, said that Harbach praised them "for reviving his song with taste."[11] The widow of composer Jerome Kern disliked the recording so much she considered legal action to prevent its distribution.[14]

Chart (1958–59) Peak
Australia 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[15] 5
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[16] 8
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[17] 4
UK New Musical Express[18] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 1
US Billboard Hot R&B Sides[20] 3


Margaret Whiting released the song on her 1960 album Margaret Whiting Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook. On February 2, 1964, Judy Garland performed the song comically on The Judy Garland Show. She sat at a small table, singing longingly while the house burns and firefighters break down the door. While they carried her out, she continued singing.

The song was covered by multiple artists in this period including Bryan Ferry, Judy Garland (left), and Ray Conniff (center); Freddie Mercury (right) is rumored to have recorded the song for an unfinished album.

Bryan Ferry, of the band Roxy Music, released a cover version on his album Another Time, Another Place in 1974. A remake of the song by British band Blue Haze, formed by Johnny Arthey and Phil Swern,[21] also became popular; it was released as a lead single in 1972,[22] and the following year on their eponymous album, Blue Haze.[23] In 1973 the group Byron Lee and the Dragonaires released a version of the song on their studio album Reggae Round The World.[24] Penny McLean, of the West German disco band Silver Convention, released a solo version in 1975 on her album Lady Bump; her version reached No. 6 on the Billboard Disco Singles chart.[25]


Jerry Garcia (left) and Barbra Streisand (right) have both covered the song.

In 1994, the Ralph Dunnegan All Stars with the Adam Mansell Orchestra recorded the song. That version appears on 70 Years of Broadway, Vol. 1: 1924–1935.[26]

Kurt Elling covered the song on his 2000 live album Live in Chicago; the album was nominated for a Grammy the following year for Best Vocal Jazz Album.

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" was translated to Lithuanian by Vytautas Bložė around 2003; in Lithuanian the song is "Žiedų Pūga". Alison Jiear recorded a version of the song with orchestral arrangements by Mychael Danna in 2004 for the film Being Julia.[27]

Notable recordings

1961Cannonball AdderleyAfrican Waltz[3]
1955Clifford BrownClifford Brown with Strings[3]
1999Kurt EllingLive in Chicago[3]
1995Jerry Garcia BandSmoke[28]
1941Benny Goodman with Helen Forrest[3]
1941Benny Goodman with Peggy LeeMutual sustaining broadcast[7]
1934–38Henry Hall and the BBC OrchestraBBC broadcast[5]
1995Engelbert HumperdinckLove Unchained[29]
2004Alison JiearBeing Julia[27]
1992Hannibal LokumbeNow's the Time[30][31]
1995Glenn MillerMissing Chapters, Vol. 5: The Complete Abbey Road[8]
1954Thelonious MonkSolo 1954[3]
1995David SanbornPearls[32]
1992Archie SheppBlack Ballads[3]
1933Paul Whiteman[3]
1941Teddy Wilson[3]
2004Norma WinstoneIt's Later Than You Think[3]

See also


  1. Ray Sinatra: Frank's cousin,, retrieved July 25, 2014
  2. Victor 24454: Gertrude Niesen and Isham Jones – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes / Jealousy,, retrieved July 24, 2014
  3. Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. New York City: Oxford University Press. pp. 371–373. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  4. Tsort. "Song artist 12 - Paul Whiteman".
  5. Henry Hall Orch - Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Internet Archive, retrieved July 24, 2014
  6. Great Encounters #24: When Peggy Lee Joined Benny Goodmans Band,, retrieved July 24, 2014
  7. Peggy Lee official discography,, retrieved July 23, 2014
  8. Missing Chapters, Vol. 5: The Complete Abbey Road Recordings, Allmusic, retrieved July 23, 2014
  9. Nat King Cole: An Informal Discography (Sessions of 1946),, retrieved July 24, 2014
  10. "The Polly Bergen Show". Classic Television Archives. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  11. Buck Ram interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  12. Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 463.
  13. Frith, Simon; Gillett, Charlie (1976). Rock File 4. Panther Books Ltd. p. 388.
  14. Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard Publications, 1985, p. 48.
  15. " – The Platters – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  16. " – The Platters – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  17. " – The Platters – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  18. Platters - Full Official Chart History, Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  19. "The Platters Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  20. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs - Smoke Gets in Your Eyes The Platters Chart History, Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  21. Verity, Michael. "One Hit Wonders: Blue Haze's "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"". Retrieved 3 March 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. Blue Haze (2) – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, discogs, retrieved July 24, 2014
  23. Blue Haze (2) – Blue Haze, discogs, retrieved July 24, 2014
  24. Byron Lee And The Dragonaires – Reggae Round The World, discogs, retrieved July 24, 2014
  25. "ALLMusic Awards>> Penny McLean". Archived from the original on June 5, 2016. Retrieved 2016-06-15.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). AllMusic.
  26. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  27. Being Julia, Allmusic, retrieved July 31, 2014
  28. Smoke (Original Soundtrack), Allmusic, retrieved July 23, 2014
  29. Engelbert Humperdinck - Love Unchained, Allmusic, retrieved July 24, 2014
  30. "Now's the Time" by New York Unit, Allmusic, retrieved July 23, 2014
  31. Hannibal discography,, retrieved July 23, 2014
  32. "Pearls overview".
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