Song Lyric Sunday: Lee Marvin, “Wand’rin’ Star”

Jim (welcome back!) said that he wanted "songs that hit the top of the charts" today, and I landed on one that, while not a chart-topper here in the US, it reached #1 for three weeks in the UK and in Ireland for two weeks in March 1970.

"Wand’rin’ Star" was written by the songwriting team of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe for the 1951 stage play Paint Your Wagon. It was made into a movie in 1969 starring Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, and Jean Seberg. Marvin played the part of Ben Rumson, and while he is by no stretch of the imagination a singer, sang all of Ben’s songs, rejecting the idea of having someone dub his voice.

Sometimes, it works. I’m convinced that he was the perfect person to sing this song. In addition to reaching #1 in the UK and Ireland, it reached #10 in Australia.

I was born under a wandering star
I was born under a wandering star

Wheels are made for rolling, mules are made to pack
I’ve never seen a sight that didn’t look better looking back

I was born under a wandering star

Mud can make you prisoner, and the plains can bake you dry
Snow can burn your eyes, but only people make you cry
Home is made for coming from, for dreams of going to
Which with any luck will never come true
I was born under a wandering star
I was born under a wandering star

Do I know where hell is? Hell is in “hello”
Heaven is goodbye forever, it’s time for me to go

I was born under a wandering star
A wandering, wandering star

(Mud can make you prisoner, and the plains can bake you dry
Snow can burn your eyes, but only people make you cry
Home is made for coming from, for dreams of going to
Which with any luck will never come true)

(I was born under a wandering star
I was born under a wandering star)

When I get to heaven tie me to a tree
Or I’ll begin to roam, and soon you’ll know where I will be

I was born under a wandering star
A wandering, wandering star

Lyrics from Genius.com

 

That’s Song Lyric Sunday (and Song of the Day) for July 17, 2022.

19 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: Lee Marvin, “Wand’rin’ Star”

  1. This is a good song, and especially as he sings it. I liked the movie a lot, too. I’ve only seen it once years ago when we were at a movie theater in Germany. The movie was captioned I think in English. 🙂

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  2. I saw this film years ago and thought Marvin’s voice was perfect for the character. You don’t want someone like Nelson Eddy or Robert Goulet suddenly singing because if the character. Actually, I was not a fan of Eastwood In this movie. I have to see it again to see if I feel the same way.

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  3. Thank you John for bringing me a great memory! I’ve seen the movie two or three times (at least) and remember singing this walking to school back in the day. It’s true too sort of. I was born under a wanderin’ star. It’s in my family tree…a lot of us have itchy feet.

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    1. My family’s the exact opposite. Nearly all of them are still in the Chicago area. On the other hand, I and my two fuill brothers (I have a half brother from Mom’s second marriage) all moved out….

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  4. I’ve heard this song before probably because my hubby watches old movies on UTube. I think he has the perfect voice for this song. The song seems to be out of character for him, which makes it even better.

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    1. That’s what I mean: Marvin sounds like an old prospector in this, which is the part he played. You don’t want someone with a well-trained voice doing this. And you’d never know from this that he wasn’t a singer.

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  5. For not being known as a singer, Lee Marvin’s singing voice is perfectly rough around the edges and as gruff as the character Ben Rumson. A “pretty” voice wouldn’t have expressed the melancholic tone of Rumson’s pragmatic-realistic philosophy.

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    1. Exactly! I can’t imagine anyone else doing it. Just like Audrey Hepburn and “Moon River” or Jimmy Durante with “September Song” or “Make Someone Happy.” It’s precisely the fact that they aren’t trained singers that makes them so perfect. Audrey Hepburn, by the way, was a very good singer; dubbing in Marni Nixon’s voice was totally unnecessary…

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