“Long Ago and Far Away,” written in 1944 by Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin for the movie Cover Girl, is a beautiful and evocative song. Performed in the movie, which in itself is sublime, by Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth (dubbed by Martha Mears), it invokes such sweet longing finally realized. Even if it’s not Rita Hayworth actually singing it, the sight of she and Gene Kelly on screen together during this song is an enchantment the viewer doesn’t want to miss.
The lyrics say, “chills run up and down my spine,” and that’s exactly what this song does to me. It sends an unmistakable splendor with a touch of an ache through every fiber. Such sweet lyrics declare a dream of that certain person, providing the place that is home. Finally one day it is achieved, and it is even more and greater than what was imagined. Oh to have it fulfilled, to know, “that all I longed for long ago was you.” I definitely need one of those fainting couches.
The same year saw multiple big stars release versions of the song, Jo Stafford’s being the one that stands out most for me. Jo Stafford, what can I say about her? That voice, piercing every sentimental part of my being, haunting with each note, commands me to stop and lose myself in a dreamy daze of pining. On this track, her usual haunting delivery alludes to a bit of sadness but ultimately fulfilled destiny. She delivers the lyrics as only she can, and adds to the song’s already overwhelming sense of tenderness.
Perry Como also released his version in 1944, and delivers it in his “oh so charming Perry way.” Being my ultimate crooner crush, I can’t help but swoon at his version and dreamily stare at my vinyl covers with his face gracing them. Bing Crosby (1944), Chet Baker (1955), and Eydie Gorme (1961) all give renditions that are lovely to listen to.
Some day, some way, with just one look, then I’ll know. . .