Nat King Cole's 1948 hit made an unlikely celebrity of its back-to-nature songwriter, and established Cole's solo career - but, says Mike Hobart, it also lived through racial bigotry and legal action before covers by Sinatra, Bowie and Lady Gaga. Credits: The Restoration Project, Columbia Records, Interscope Records
Each week we bring you the story of a song, from its origins and early recordings through cover versions good and bad. Each episode is written and presented by an FT music critic or contributor. Formerly called FT Arts.