Mona Lisa

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  • The Song
  • Back Stories
composition date
1950
genre
Pop
songwriter(s)
Jay Livingston
Ray Evans
related performer(s)
Nat King Cole

What kind of a song is that?

Veteran songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evans wrote a song titled “Prima Donna” and sent the music to Cole. He rejected the song, as had Frank Sinatra before him. The songwriters asked if they could come to his house and perform the song for him and he agreed out of respect for the writers’ reputation. They arrived to sing the song, now titled “Mona Lisa,” with a few changes in the music and lyrics. Cole asked, “What kind of a song is that?” but when he heard it he changed his mind. Cole’s wife was convinced the song was all wrong for him and asked, “Why are you doing an Italian song?” “Mona Lisa” ended up winning an Academy Award and became the best-selling song of Cole’s career.

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