“What A Wonderful World”: Analysis of Louis Armstrong's Song

“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong depicts that one should appreciate everything that life gives you. Finding those little things that bring joy can help through times of hardship and struggle, which was most likely Armstrong’s intention. Due to the fact, that during this period there were a lot of societal problems regarding segregation, the civil rights struggle, poverty, war, and the then-recent political issues. During these times of turmoil, this song was released which we will analyze in this "Louis Armstrong's “What A Wonderful World”: World Analysis" paper.

Louis Armstrong lived a troubled childhood with poverty and his father abandoning his mother, sister, and him. He grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana during the early 1900s. Jazz was just created. At this time, Armstrong’s family did not have enough income to support one another, so he had worked very peculiar jobs to support himself. He had been sent to the Colored Waifs home in 1913. For disturbing the peace, by shooting a gun in the air. There, he found his love for music and learned music by ear. Music was his passion and his solace, most people do not have a place for relieving emotions and always need a ‘pick me up’. He created “What a Wonderful World” in 1967, which had topped the charts and sold over half a million copies.

But, why did the song speak to him? Unfortunately, Armstrong himself can not answer that question today. Although, the songs lyrics and instrumentals can give the answers that have been searched for. In Stanza 1, lines 1-4 “I see trees of green / Red roses too / I see them bloom / For me and you. Armstrong was displaying the beauty of nature, specifically plants. The beauty of the rose can mean many things, but most people in society symbolize it for love, respect, and promises. Although without nature there will be no beauty in existence. All those paintings of landscapes, animals, plants, and such will be no longer. As if it was never there. Imagine life with nature is next to impossible. Another example of why Louis Armstrong chose and created this song is in Stanza 4 lines 17-20 “I see friends shaking hands / Saying, 'How do you do?' / They're really saying / 'I love you'”. One of the main needs for survival is human connections and relationships. Whether it's to do with family, significant others, and even friends. An individual needs human touch and connection to remain sane.

It is very difficult to imagine living without these conditions. My interpretation believes that the main reason for Louis Armstrong's song of chosen is that from his past experiences, he wanted others to know that they can find happiness in the little things. Armstrong had a rough past, with him being sent off to a juvenile detention center at 12, his father abandoning his family and him, and him being shunned by his father’s new family. Those experiences bring a lot of anguish and sorrow for an adolescent. During the time he had been creating and releasing the song, a lot of issues were prominent in society for African-Americans in the 1960s. Segregation was still an outstanding issue. Civil Rights struggles eminent, especially with the assaination of Martin luther King Jr. following the release of the song. Therefore, times were really tough for colored individuals. Most likely, for his way on coping with those memories he had found solace in the little things. As he had depicted in his hit-song. But, Louis Armstrong and many other African-American were beaming with their talent and skills for jazz music.

In conclusion, “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong depicts and portrays that one should appreciate everything that life gives you. Finding those little things that spark joy can greatly help through times of hardship and struggle.


31 October 2020
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