I Left My Heart in San Francisco
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I Left My Heart in San Francisco
"I Left My Heart in San Francisco"
Single by Tony Bennett
"Once Upon a Time"
"I Left My Heart in San Francisco"
ReleasedFebruary 2, 1962
Format7-inch single
RecordedJanuary 23, 1962
GenreTraditional pop
George Cory, Douglass Cross
Ernie Altschuler
Tony Bennett singles chronology
"I Left My Heart in San Francisco"
"I Wanna Be Around"

"I Left My Heart in San Francisco" is a popular song, written in the fall of 1953 in Brooklyn, New York, with music by George Cory and lyrics by Douglass Cross (1920-1975) and best known as the signature song of Tony Bennett.

In 1962, the song was released as a single by Bennett on Columbia Records as the b-side to "Once Upon a Time," peaked at #19 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and was also included on the album I Left My Heart in San Francisco. It also reached number seven on the Easy Listening chart.[1] The song is one of the official anthems for the city of San Francisco. In 2018, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."[2]


The music was written by George Cory, with lyrics by Douglass Cross, about two amateur writers nostalgic for San Francisco after moving to New York.[3]

Although the song was originally written for Claramae Turner, who often used it as an encore, she never got around to recording it. The song found its way to Tony Bennett through Ralph Sharon, Bennett's longtime accompanist and friends with the composers. Sharon brought the music along when he and Bennett were on tour and on their way to San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel.[3]

Prior to Tony Bennett hearing it, the song was pitched to Tennessee Ernie Ford, whom Claramae Turner suggested Cross take it to. Ford turned the song down.

In December 1961, in the famous "Venetian Room" at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, Tony Bennett first sang "I Left My Heart in San Francisco".[4] In the audience that night were San Francisco mayor George Christopher and future mayor Joseph L. Alioto. From the 1960s through the 1980s, at San Francisco's premier supper club the "Venetian Room," Bennett sang the city song.

Recording history

Bennett first recorded the song at the CBS 30th Street Studio on January 23, 1962; CBS released it as the b-side of "Once Upon A Time."[3] The A-side received no attention, and DJs began flipping the record over and playing "San Francisco."[5] It became a hit on the pop singles chart in 1962 and spent close to a year on various other charts, achieving gold record status. It then won the top prize of Grammy Award for Record of the Year, as well as for Best Male Solo Vocal Performance.


In 2001 "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" was ranked 23rd on an RIAA/NEA list of the most historically significant Songs of the 20th Century.

It has often been performed in public by Bennett in concert as well as on special occasions. A statue of Tony Bennett was unveiled outside the Fairmont Hotel on 19 August 2016, in honor of his 90th birthday, the hotel performance, and the song's history with San Francisco.[6]

Bennett has said of the song,

That song helped make me a world citizen. It allowed me to live, work and sing in any city on the globe. It changed my whole life.[3]

The Songwriters Hall of Fame gave Bennett the "Towering Performance Award" for his vocal rendition of the song.[7]

A version by rhythm and blues singer Bobby Womack peaked at #48 on the Billboard R&B singles chart in 1969.

On May 15, 1984, the song was adopted by the City and County of San Francisco as one of its two official anthems, the other being the title song from the 1936 film San Francisco (1936 film).

The San Francisco Giants play the song after each victory at their home field, Oracle Park. Bennett has performed the song live at multiple Giants games, including the first game at Oracle (then called Pacific Bell Park) in 2000 and before games in the 2002 and 2010 World Series.


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-1993. Record Research. p. 27.
  2. ^ "National Recording Registry Reaches 500". Library of Congress. March 21, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Turner, Steve (January 4, 2010). "I left my heart in San Francisco: Touring the vibrant city that inspired a song". Daily Mail (Mail Online). Retrieved 2010.
  4. ^ "The Fairmont Hotel Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Tony Bennett's First Performance of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco"". 2011. Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ Gary Mamorstein. The Label: The Story of Columbia Records. New York": Thunder's Mouth Press, 2007. p. 375.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-20. Retrieved .CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "2003 Award and Induction Ceremony Induction Ceremonies". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved .

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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