"Wonderful World" (sometimes referred to as "(What a) Wonderful World", but unrelated to the Louis Armstrong song by that title) was written in the late 1950s by soul music pioneer Sam Cooke along with songwriters Lou Adler and Herb Alpert, 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 U.S. and #27 in the UK. A bouncy love song, the lyrics have the singer disavowing any knowledge gained from books (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 (omiting 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.
After a Greg Chapman cover of the song was featured prominently in the 1985 film Witness, "Wonderful World" gained further exposure, particularly in the United Kingdom, where it appeared in a well-remembered 1986 advertisement for Levi's 501 jeans. As a result, the song became a hit in the UK, reaching #2 in re-release. In a 2005 poll by the UK's Channel Four, the song was voted the 19th greatest song ever to feature in a commercial.
The original Sam Cooke version of the song comprised the title soundtrack of the 2005 film Hitch.
It was also covered by Otis Redding on his album Otis Blue.
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...").
Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia covered this song with The Jerry Garcia Band during live performances; it appears on Pure Jerry series #7 as an encore along with special guest Bruce Hornsby. Joan Baez has also played the song during her live performances.
Jesse Malin covered the song on his 2008 covers album On Your Sleeve.
|1960||US Black Singles Chart||#2|
|1960||US Pop Singles Chart||#12|
|1960||UK Singles Chart||#27|
|1965||Pop Singles Chart||#4|
|1965||UK Singles Chart||#7|
|1978||Pop Singles Chart||#17|
|1986||UK Singles Chart||#2|