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Frenesi – Artie Shaw

March 6, 2022

Today’s song is the American jazz song “Frenesí” by Artie Shaw.

Fun Facts:

  • “Frenesí” means “frenzy” in Spanish.
  • The song was originally composed by Alberto Domínguez Borrás, a renowned Mexican musician and composer.
  • It was initially written for the marimba, a percussion instrument, but was later adapted for the jazz genre by lyricist and composer Leonard Whitcup.
  • It quickly became a jazz standard upon adaptation or a foundational piece of music well known and commonly performed by jazz musicians.
  • Roughly ten years after entering into the jazz repertoire, it was picked up by clarinetist, composer, and swing bandleader Artie Shaw. Shaw recorded and released his version of “Frenesí” in March 1940 under Victor Records.
  • By the end of that year, the song reached the number one spot on Billboard’s pop chart, where it remained for thirteen weeks.
  • In 1982, Shaw’s version of “Frenesí” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
  • Other singers and musicians who have covered the song include Natalie Cole, Ray Charles, Bing Crosby, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Frank Sinatra.
  • Shaw’s hit was featured in Martin Scorsese’s biographical sports drama Raging Bull, released in 1980.
  • The song is mentioned in the 1990 novel Vineland by Thomas Pynchon. One of the characters is named Frenesi Gates after Shaw’s hit, which was, according to the author, “all over the jukeboxes and airwaves in the last days of the war.”



And now the purple dusk of twilight time

Steals across the meadows of my heart

High up in the sky the little stars climb

Always reminding me that we’re apart

You wander down the lane and far away

Leaving me a song that will not die

Love is now the stardust of yesterday

The music of the years gone by

Sometimes I wonder why I spend

The lonely night dreaming of a song

The melody haunts my reverie

And I am once again with you

When our love was new

And each kiss an inspiration

But that was long ago

Now my consolation

Is in the stardust of a song

Beside a garden wall

When stars are bright

You are in my arms

The nightingale tells his fairy tale

A paradise where roses bloom

Though I dream in vain

In my heart it will remain

My stardust melody

The memory of love’s refrain