The History of "Heart and Soul"

Kara Kovalchik
ThinkStock / ThinkStock

Just who do we blame for that ditty that every would-be pianist picks out when they find an unsuspecting keyboard?

The song we’re referring to is “Heart and Soul,” and don’t tell us that you’ve never played either the top or bottom section with someone at least once in your life.

The melody was composed by Hoagy Carmichael, who’d penned such classics as “Stardust” and “Georgia on My Mind.” Two years later, first-time collaborator Frank Loesser added the lyrics to the song they’d decided to call “Heart and Soul,” which they hoped would be used in a short-subject film. (The trend at the time was for motion picture studios to release short films featuring popular dance bands in an effort to launch a new hit tune.)

“Heart and Soul” languished around Paramount studios for a time, and at first was only used as a practice tape for then-hopeful actor Anthony Quinn. The song was ultimately recorded by Bea Wain with the Larry Clinton Band, and was included in the 1938 short A Song is Born. The composers were disappointed that their song had been used in such a minor production. But when Clinton’s version went to number one on the Hit Parade, they changed their tune, so to speak.