Over six decades ago, The Platters recorded their version of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”
It was released off the group’s 1958 album Remember When? and became a No. 1 hit in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart. It also peaked at No. 3 on the Rhythm and Blues chart. The song achieved the same success in the United Kingdom, where it spent twenty weeks on the charts, peaking at No. 1 for a week.
A Song That Dates Back to Over Eight Decades
Written by American musical theatre composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” was first introduced by singer and actress Tamara Drasin in the 1933 musical Roberta.
Just a year later, there were already four different recordings of the song on the music charts. The first one to do so was Paul Whiteman. Together with his Orchestra, they performed “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” with vocals by Bob Lawrence. Their version went No. 1 on the music charts.
Leo Reisman once again brought the song to the music charts at No. 3, while Emil Coleman at No. 4 and Ruth Etting at No. 15.
Several more artists covered the song but perhaps the most well-known version was by The Platters. In fact, Harbach praised the group “for reviving his song with taste.” However, Kern’s widow thought otherwise.
Kern died in 1945, so he never had the chance to hear The Platters’ “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” His wife did, and she hated it so much that she considered taking legal action to stop its distribution. She believed her husband would never have wanted his songs to be used for ridiculously melodramatic, high-strung rock and roll ballads.
Mrs. Kern enlisted her lawyer’s help to call Kern’s publisher, Max Dreyfus, and to see about pulling out an injunction against the Platters. Unfortunately for Mrs. Kern, Dreyfus regretfully informed her that he was actually the one who suggested to the group’s manager that “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” would be just perfect for The Platters.
And since it looked like the single was on the right track to selling more than a million copies, Mrs. Kern decided to let go of the injunction.
“They asked me how I knew my true love was true. I, of course, replied something here inside cannot be denied. They said, ‘someday you’ll find all who love are blind.’ When your heart’s on fire, you must realize, smoke gets in your eyes,” the song begins.
You can listen to “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” in the video below.
Tamara Drasin, The Platters