Whereas most crooners from the ’50s and ’60s dropped out of the charts and people’s memories the moment the clock struck 1970, Andy Williams stuck around. Widely regarded as one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century, his wonderfully soothing vocals kept him a vital force in the music industry for over 70 years. Here, we look back at his enduring legacy with our pick of the 10 best Andy Williams songs of all time.
10. Happy Heart
Kicking off our list of the 10 best Andy Williams songs of all time is Happy Heart. Williams recorded the song (which was written by James Last and Jackie Rae) in 1969. As luck would have it, Petula Clarke released her own version of the song at the same time, resulting in the two duking it out in the charts. As it turned out, fans preferred Williams’ uptempo, jukebox-friendly version over Clarke’s slower, more soulful take, with the result that Clarke stalled at number 12 on the Easy Listening chart, while Williams climbed all the way to the top.
By the mid-1950s, Williams had already enjoyed a moderate amount of chart success, but he was about to get even bigger. In 1957, he released Butterfly, a song written by Bernie Lowe and Kal Mann and originally recorded by Charlie Grace, who’d earned a No. 1 hit with it earlier that year. Williams’ soothing version proved just as successful as Grace’s, reaching No. 1 on the pop charts in both the US and UK.
8. (Where Do I Begin?) Love Story
The 1970 movie “Love Story” was huge, becoming one of the highest-grossing films of all time and picking up a slew of awards. Its soundtrack was equally popular, with Henry Mancini’s instrumental, (Where Do I Begin?) Love Story, proving particularly popular. A month after Mancini hit the number 2 spot on the Easy Listening Chart, Williams released his version…. this time, with lyrics. It proved a hit, reaching number 9 on the Hot 100 and holding onto the top spot on the Easy Listening Chart for four weeks.
7. Almost There
Named one of the best Andy Williams songs by Smoothradio.com, Almost There was written by Gloria Shayne and Jack Keller and first recorded by Williams for the 1964 movie, “I’d Rather Be Rich.” He later included on his album, Andy Williams’ Dear Heart. Released as the B side to the Nat King Cole classic On the Street Where You Live in 1964, it reached number 12 on the U.S. adult contemporary chart and number 67 on the Billboard Hot 100. Over in the UK, it fared even better, reaching number 2 on the UK Singles Chart.
6. Days of Wine and Roses
Up next is Days of Wine and Roses, a gentle, nostalgia-laced song from the same songwriting team of Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini who wrote Moon River. Written for the 1962 movie of the same name, the song earned Mercer and Mancini the Academy Award for Best Original Song and Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. A year later, Williams reached number 9 on the adult contemporary chart and number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his version of the classic.
5. Danny Boy
It’s hard to know what helped Andy Williams connect so well with Danny Boy. Was it the sparkle in his eye? The melancholy tenor? Either way, it was a natural fit, becoming one of his signature songs and one of the most requested singalongs at live performances. On his first outing with the song in 1961, he hit number 15 on the U.S. adult contemporary chart and number 64 on the Hot 100.
4. Can’t Get Used to Losing You
As All Music notes, the 1963 album Days of Wine and Roses and Other TV Requests was Williams’ commercial apex. With his prime-time TV show providing better promotion than a record label ever could, the album exploded, spending months at number one and sending Williams’ already successful career into overdrive. One of its highlights is the lovely ballad Can’t Get Used to Losing You, which peaked at number 2 in both the UK and US on its release as a single in March 1963.
3. Music To Watch Girls By
Music to Watch Girls By was first released by The Bob Crewe Generation, who earned a Top 40 hit with their instrumental version in December 1966. A year later, Williams took it back to the charts with his recording, this time featuring lyrics by Tony Velona. That time around, it reached number 34 in the easy listening charts. Over 30 years later, it broke into the UK Top Ten after it was used in a commercial for Fiat.
2. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
In 1967, Frankie Valli hit the number 2 spot on the Billboard 200 with the irresistibly romantic, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. It became his biggest hit of the decade, eventually certifying gold. A year later, Williams released his version. It only reached number 34 in the US, but became a massive hit over the pond, charting at number 5 on the UK Singles Chart and number 8 on the Irish Singles Chart. In 2002, he re-recorded it with British TV presenter and actress Denise Van Outen, earning another top 30 hit in the process.
1. Moon River
Oddly enough, Williams never had a hit with Moon River, the song first performed by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 movie, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” But while he might never have released it as a single, his rendition of it at the start of the Academy Awards ceremony in 1962 and decision to open every episode of his eponymous TV series by singing the first eight bars turned it into one of the most popular songs in his catalog. Other artists may have recorded it over the years, but it’s a song that will forever be remembered as Andy Williams’ theme song.