The Windmills of Your Mind

This article is about the song. For the album by Paul Motian, see The Windmills of Your Mind (album). For the album by Bud Shank, see Windmills of Your Mind (album).

"The Windmills of Your Mind" is a song with music by French composer Michel Legrand and English lyrics written by Americans Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman. The French lyrics, under the title "Les moulins de mon cœur", were written by Eddy Marnay. The song (with the English lyrics) was introduced in the film, The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).[1] Winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1968,[1] "Windmills of Your Mind " was in 2004 ranked at no. 57 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema. A remake by Sting was utilized in the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair.

Composition/ original recording

In the original 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair, the song is heard – sung by Noel Harrison – during a scene in which the character Thomas Crown flies a glider at the glider airport in Salem, New Hampshire: having edited the rough cut for this scene utilizing the Beatles track "Strawberry Fields Forever" producer/ director Norman Jewison commissioned an original song be written for the glider scene which would reference the ambivalent feelings of Thomas Crown as he engages in a favorite pastime while experiencing the tension of preparing to commit a major robbery. Alan Bergman: "Michel [Legrand] played us [ie. Alan and Marilyn Bergman] seven or eight melodies. We listened to all of them and decided to wait until the next day to choose one. We three decided on the same one, a long baroque melody...The lyric we wrote was stream-of-consciousness. We felt that the song had to be a mind trip of some kind" – "The [eventual] title was [originally] a line at the end of a section...When we finished we said: "What do we call this? It's got to have a title. That line is kind of interesting.' So we restructured the song so that the line appeared again at the end. It came out of the body of the song. I think we were thinking, you know when you try to fall asleep at night and you can't turn your brain off and thoughts and memories tumble." [2]

Noel Harrison recorded the song after Andy Williams passed on it: according to Harrison: "It was recorded live on a huge sound stage at Paramount, with the accompanying film clips running on a giant screen and Michel blowing kisses to the orchestra." [3] Harrison took issue with the couplet "Like a tunnel that you follow to a tunnel of its own/ Down a hollow to a cavern where the sun has never shone", singing the word "shone" British-style with a short vowel sound making the rhyme with "own" imperfect. Marilyn Bergman: "We said 'No, it's shone [long vowel sound].' And he said 'No, it's our language!' And we said: 'Yes, but it's our song.' So reluctantly, he sang shone [long vowel sound] and our rhyme was intact." [2] However, Harrison evidently had the last laugh; in the finally released version he sings "shone" with a short vowel! Harrison's version had a US single in the US in July 1968 soon after the premiere of its parent film, and similarly was issued in the British Isles at the time of the film's 7 February 1969 premiere in the UK and Ireland, and as a result was a current UK release when "The Windmills of Your Mind" was afforded the cachet of being nominated for an Academy Award in a 24 February 1969 announcement: Harrison's single debuted in the UK Top 50 dated 4 March 1969 at #36 and had risen to #15 – abetted by performances by Harrison on the 27 March 1969 broadcast of TOTP and also on variety shows hosted by Rolf Harris and Scott Walker – when the song was announced as the Academy Award winner on 14 April 1969, an endorsement which facilitated the Top Ten entry of Harrison's single on the UK chart dated 22 April 1969 with its chart peak of #8 effected two weeks later.[4]

"The Windmills of Your Mind" was performed on the Academy Awards ceremony broadcast of 14 April 1969 by José Feliciano; Noel Harrison would recall: "I was invited to sing it at the Academy Awards... but I was making a movie in England at the time, and the producer (who didn’t like me) refused to let me go." The film which caused the scheduling conflict has been identified as Take a Girl Like You directed by Jonathan Miller.[3]

Dusty Springfield version

Jerry Wexler, president of Atlantic Records, heard "The Windmills of Your Mind" on the soundtrack of The Thomas Crown Affair and championed having Dusty Springfield record the song for her debut Atlantic album Dusty in Memphis, overcoming the singer's strong resistance; Springfield's friend and subsequent manager Vicki Wickham would allege: "Dusty always said she hated it because she couldn't identify with the words." [5] During the first sessions for the track at American Sound Studio in Memphis, problems with getting the proper chords down arose, and at Springfield's suggestion the song was arranged so the first three verses were sung in a slower tempo than the original film version.

In April 1969 the third A-side release from Dusty in Memphis was announced as "I Don't Want to Hear It Anymore" with "The Windmills of Your Mind" as B-side: however Wexler was prepared to promote "The Windmills..." as the A-side if it won the Oscar for Best Song, reportedly instructing mail-room clerks at Atlantic Records' NYC headquarters to listen to the Academy Awards broadcast the night of 14 April 1969; hearing "The Windmills..." announced as the Best Song winner was these clerks' cue to drive a station wagon loaded with 2500 copies of a double-sided promo single of Springfield's version – identified on the label as "Academy Award Winner" – to the NYC general post office, where the copies of the single were mailed out to key radio stations across the US.[6] Although its Hot 100 debut was not effected until the 5 May 1969 issue of Billboard and then with a #99 ranking, Springfield's "The Windmills..." made a rapid ascent to the Top 40 being ranked at #40 on the Hot 100 dated 24 May 1969 only to stall over the subsequent three weeks peaking at #31 on the Hot 100 dated 14 June 1969 with only one additional week of Hot 100 tenure, being ranked at #45 on the 21 June 1969 chart. Local hit parades indicate that Springfield's "The Windmills..." had Top Ten impact in only select larger markets: Boston, SoCal, and Miami. The track did reach #3 on the Easy Listening chart in Billboard a feat matched by Springfield's third subsequent single "Brand New Me" which therefore ties with "The Windmills..." as having afforded Springfield her best-ever solo showing on a Billboard chart.[7][8]

José Feliciano version

"The Windmills of Your Mind" was recorded by José Feliciano for his 1969 album 10 to 23,[9] and Feliciano performed the song on the Academy Awards ceremony broadcast of 14 April 1969; the song's original singer Noel Harrison would later opine of Feliciano's performance: "A wonderful musician and compelling singer, he made much too free with the beautiful melody in my humble opinion. But that's jazz." [3] It was Feliciano's version of "The Windmills..." which became a hit in the Netherlands, reaching #11 on the Dutch chart in November 1969.[10] and Nr.4 in Turkish hit parade in April 1970 [11]

Other versions

In English

All Angels on their self-titled album (2006) [12]
Ed Ames on his album The Windmills of Your Mind (1969) [13]
Tina Arena on her album Songs Of Love & Loss (2007) [14]
The Arbors on their album The Arbors (1977)
Jeri Brown on her album April in Paris (1996) [15]
Anne Clark on her maxi-single The Haunted Road (1993) [16]
Featuring Eyeless in Gaza: track included Clark's 1996 compilation album The Nineties A Fine Collection
Petula Clark on her album Portrait of Petula (1969) [17]
Featured on the soundtrack of the 2012 film Killing Them Softly
The Colourfield B-side of their 1984 single "Take" [18]
Bonus track on Japanese release of the group's album Virgins and Philistines
Ray Conniff Singers on their 1969 album Jean [19]
Featured in the 2015 film Focus
Randy Crawford with David Sanborn on Sanborn's album Time and the River (2015) [20]
Vic Damone on his album Over the Rainbow (1982) [21]
John Davidson on his album My Cherie Amour (1969) [22]
Skeeter Davis on her album Mary Frances (1969) [23]
Elaine Delmar on her concert album Recital At the Festival The Golden Orpheus '71 (1971) [24]
Neil Diamond on his album The Movie Album: As Time Goes By (1998) [25]
Val Doonican on his album Rocking Chair Favourites (1972) [26]
Connie Evingson on her album Stockholm Sweetnin' (2006) [27]
Laura Fygi on her album Watch What Happens When Laura Fygi Meets Michel Legrand (1997) [28]
John Gary on his album Love of a Gentle Woman (1969) [29]
Peter Grant on his album New Vintage (2006) [30]
Rigmor Gustafsson on her album On My Way to You (2006) [31]
Jacintha on her album Jacintha Goes to Hollywood (2007) [32]
Peter Jöback on his album Storybook (2004) [33]
Jack Jones on his album Jack Jones sings Michel Legrand (1971) [34]
Eliza Keil on her album Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head (1970) [35]
Anita Kerr Singers on their album Velvet Voices & Bold Brass (1969) [36]
Kiki & Herb on their concert album ...Will Die for You: Live at Carnegie Hall (2004) [37]
mistitled "The Windmills of My Mind"
Jason Kouchak on his album Midnight Classics (2008) [38]
mistitled "The Windmills of My Mind"
The King's Singers on their 1972 self-titled album [39]
Kim Kuzma on her album Acustico II (2015) [40]
Judith Lefeber on her album In My Dreams (2003) [41]
The Lettermen on their album Greatest Movie Hits (2000) [42]
Barbara Lewis on her album The Many Grooves of Barbara Lewis (1969) [43]
Abbey Lincoln on her album Over the Years (2000) [44]
Gloria Loring on her album ...And Now We Come to Distances (1969) [45]
Carmen Lundy on her album Something to Believe In (2003) [46]
The Manhattans single (c. 1970) [47]
bonus track on the 2015 CD release of the group's 1971 album With These Hands
Johnny Mathis   Version #1: on his album Love Theme from 'Romeo & Juliet' (1969) [48]
  Version #2: with Toots Thielemans on Thielemans' album Chez Toots (1998) [49]
Chez Toots track listing reads "Les Moulins de mon coeur (The Windmills of Your Mind)": Mathis sings only the English-language lyrics
Natalia Mateo (de) on her album Heart of Darkness (2015) [50]
Jane McDonald on her album Love at the Movies (2001) [51]
Maureen McGovern   Version #1: on her album Academy Award Performance – And the Envelope, Please (1975) [52]
  Version #2: on her album The Music Never Ends (1997) [53]
Eva Mendes recorded for commercial (starring Mendes) for Angel perfume [54]
Nana Mouskouri on her album Falling in Love Again: Great Songs from the Movies (1993) [55]
Alison Moyet on her album Voice (2004) [56]
Jim Nabors on his album Everything is Beautiful (1970) [57]
Judy Page (af) on her album Time and Love (1969) [58]
Elaine Paige on her album Cinema (1984) [59]
Parenthetical Girls on their album Entanglements (2008) [60]
Billy Paul on his album Ebony Woman (1970) [61]
Pepe & Paradise on their compilation album 70s Radio Hits (2000) [62]
Dianne Reeves on her album When You Know (2008) [63]
Ginette Reno on her English-language album Ginette Reno (1969) [64]
Rita Reys on her album Rita Reys Sings Michel LeGrand (1972) [65]
Jimmie Rodgers on his album The Windmills of Your Mind (1969) [66]
Released as a single: bubbled under Hot 100 with a #123 peak
John Rowles on his album Saying Goodbyes (1971) [67]
medley: "Where Do I Begin (Love Story)"/ "Windmills Of Your Mind"
Sandler and Young on their album Once More With Feeling (c. 1970) [68]
The Sandpipers on their album The Wonder of You (1969) [69]
Mathilde Santing on her compilation album Matilde Matilde (1997) [70]
Janet Seidel on her album Comme ci comme ça (2004) [71]
Dinah Shore on her album Once Upon a Summertime (1975) [72]
Sharleen Spiteri on her album The Movie Songbook (2010) [73]
Sting on the soundtrack album for The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) [74]
Barbra Streisand on her album What Matters Most (2011) [75]
Swing Out Sister on their compilation album The Best of Swing Out Sister (1996) [76]
Taped performance from The Jeff Graham Show on Radio Luxembourg, made in 1989: the track was included on some editions of the 1989 single release "When in the World", and is also included on the 2014 compilation The Essential Swing Out Sister
Take 6 on their album The Standard (2008) [77]
Becky Taylor on her album Shine (2003) [78]
Kiri Te Kanawa on her album Magic: Kiri sings Michel Legrand (1992)[79]
Mel Tormé on his album A Time For Us (Love Theme From 'Romeo & Juliet') (1969) [80]
Grady Tate on his album Windmills of My Mind (1968) [81]
Leslie Uggams on her album On My Way to You: Songs of Alan & Marilyn Bergman (2003) [82]
Nina van Pallandt on her album Nina Alone (1970) [83]
Vanilla Fudge on their album Rock & Roll (1969) [84]
B-side of single release "Lord in the Country"
Vassilikos on his album Vintage (2009) [85]
Helena Vondráčková on her album Isle of Helena (1972) [86]
Kim Weston on her album Big Brass Four Poster (1970) [87]
Susan Wong on her album 511 (2009) [88]
mistitled "The Windmills of My Mind"
Edward Woodward on his album The Edward Woodward Album (1972) [89]

In French: Les Moulins de mon Cœur

The lyrics for the French-language rendering of "The Windmills of Your Mind" were written by Eddy Marnay and this version, entitled "Les Moulins de mon Cœur", was first recorded in 1968 by Marcel Amont who was resultantly afforded a minor French chart hit (peak #49).[90]

"Les Moulins de mon Coeur" has subsequently been recorded by:

Richard Anthony on his album Señora la Dueña (1970) [91]
Dany Brillant on his album Histoire d'un amour (2007) [92]
Frida Boccara on her album Un jour, un enfant (1969) [93]
Noëlle Cordier single (1969) [94]
Anne Marie David on her concert album Live In Charleroi (2004) [95]
Natalie Dessay with Michel LeGrand on their collaborative album Entre Elle et Lui (2013) [96]
Celine Dion on her concert album Céline Dion en concert (1985)
In medley "Hommage à Michel Legrand: Quand On S'aime/ Brûle Pas Tes Doigts/ La Valse Des Lilas/ Quand Ça Balance/ Les Moulins de mon coeur" [97]
Miss Dominique on her album Une femme battante (2006) [98]
Claude François on his album Un Monde de Musique (1969) [99]
Jason Kouchak on his album Comme d'Habitude (2011) [100]
Patricia Kaas on her album "Piano Bar" (2002) [101]
Vicky Leandros single, included on her album Zoom sur Vicky (1969) [102]
Julia Migenes on her concert album Live at the Olympia (1989) [103]
Jessye Norman on her album Michel Legrand: I Was Born in Love with You (2000) [104]
Marie-Denise Pelletier on her album Lesmots de Marnay (2003) [105]
Ginette Reno on her French-language album Ginette Reno (1969) [106]
Demis Roussos on his album Immortel (1995) [107]
Janet Seidel on her album Comme ci comme ça (2004) [71]
Caterina Valente on her concert album Caterina Valente Live [London Palladium] (1975) [108]
Sylvie Vartan on her album La Reine de Saba (1974) [109]
Amaury Vassili on his album Canterò (2010) [110]
Vigon Bamy Jay on their album Les Soul Men (2013) [111]
Carol Welsman on her album Hold Me (2001) [112]

In other languages

In 1970 Helena Vondráčková, prior to recording "The Windmills of Your Mind" with its original English lyrics for her album Isle of Helena (1972), recorded the song as rendered in Czech: "Můžeš zůstat, můžeš jít",[113] and also Japanese: "Kaze no sasayaki".[114] Introduced on the album "Ostrov Heleny Vondráčkové",[113] "Můžeš zůstat, můžeš jít" has become a signature song for Vondráčková: in 2012 when her three CD retrospective (Nejen) o lásce was issued, Vondráčková cited "Můžeš zůstat, můžeš jít" as "the song on the [anthology] dearest to [her] heart".[115] An alternate Czech rendering of "The Windmills of Your Mind": "Mlýnské kolo v srdci mém", was recorded by Hana Hegerová to serve as title cut for her 2010 album of renderings of famous French-language songs.[116]

"The Windmills of Your Mind" has also been rendered as:


  1. 1 2 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 135. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. 1 2 "Marrying The Image: Alan and Marilyn Bergman". Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 "The Windmills of Your Mind". Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  5. Wickham, Vicki; Valentine, Penny (2000). Dancing with Demons: the authorized biography. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 978-0312282028.
  6. Howes, Paul (2012). The Complete Dusty Springfield. London: Titan Books. ISBN 9780857681409.
  7. Billboard
  8. Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), p. 592.
  18. Binnie, Steve (2014). The Sound Of The Crowd - a discography of the '80s. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-326-07358-9.
  25. Jackson, Laura (2005). Neil Diamond: his life, his music, his passion. Toronto: ECW Press. ISBN 978-1550227079.
  29. The Pittsburgh Press 30 March 1969
  32. Jazz TimesVol 38 #1-5 (2008) p.106
  33. '
  34. Billboard vol 83 #8 (20 February 1971) p.54
  46. Jazz Journal International (2004) p.25
  48. Billboard vol 81 #36 (6 September 1969) p.20
  71. 1 2
  72. Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third series vol 30 parts 12-13 #1 January – June 1976
  83. Wendt Jensen, Jacob (2012). Nina van Pallandt: Hellere tro på det gode en gang for meget. Copenhagen: People's Press. ISBN 9788771377415.
  89. Gramophone vol 50 (1973) p.1946
  94. Billboard vol 81 #15 (12 April 1969) p.70
  113. 1 2
  118. Chrispijn, Rob (2010). Nooit zongen vogels harder. Amsterdam: Nijgh & Van Ditmar. ISBN 978-90-388-9328-0.
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