“You Belong to Me” is a romantic popular music ballad from the 1950s.
You Belong to Me” is credited to Pee Wee King, Chilton Price and Redd Stewart.
Price, a songwriting librarian at WAVE Radio Louisville, had written the song in its virtual entirety as “Hurry Home to Me” envisioning the song as an American woman’s plea to a sweetheart serving overseas in World War II. Afforded songwriting credit on the song mostly in exchange for their work in promoting it, King and Stewart did slightly adjust Price’s composition musically and lyrically, shifting the focus from a wartime background “into a kind of universal song about separated lovers” and changing the title to “You Belong to Me”. Price had previously had success with another hit which she had written, “Slow Poke”, under a similar arrangement with the two men.
The first 1952 recording of the song was by Joni James. She had seen the sheet music in the Woods Building in Chicago and the lyrics attracted her. She recorded the song in February, 1952, in Chicago and it was released in March on the local Sharp Records label. After she signed to MGM, it was reissued as her second single on that label on August 5, 1952, after Jo Stafford, Patti Page and Dean Martin had covered it. James’ version also was issued on M-G-M Records for national distribution. The best-known early 1952 version of the song was recorded after James’ recording by Sue Thompson on Mercury’s country label as catalog number 6407. It was soon covered by Patti Page, whose version was issued by Mercury as catalog number 5899, with “I Went to Your Wedding” (a bigger Patti Page hit, reaching No 1) on the flip side. It entered the Billboard chart on August 22, 1952, and lasted 12 weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 4.
A cover version by Jo Stafford became the most popular version. Issued by Columbia Records as catalog number 39811, it was Stafford’s biggest hit, topping the charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom (the first song by a female singer to top the UK Singles Chart). It first entered the US chart on August 1, 1952 and remained there for 24 weeks. In the UK, it appeared in the first ever UK chart of 14 November 1952 (then a top 12) and reached number 1 on 16 January 1953, being only the second record to top such chart, remaining in the chart for a total of 19 weeks. Another cover version, by Dean Martin, released by Capitol Records as catalog number 2165, was also in play at that time. This version first entered the chart on August 29, 1952, and remained on the chart for 10 weeks, reaching No. 12. All the versions were combined in the rankings on the Cash Boxcharts, and the song reached No. 1 on those charts as well, lasting on the chart for more than half a year.
In 1958, the song crossed over into rock for the first time on the Capitol album Gene Vincent Rocks and the Blue Caps Roll. A later version of the song, by the Duprees, also made the Billboard Top 10, reaching No. 7 in 1962. It was recorded by many other pop vocalists, including Patsy Cline and Bing Crosby. A solo acoustic version was recorded by Bob Dylan for the 1992 album Good as I Been to You but was eventually left off as an out-take; the recording surfaced two years later in the soundtrack for the 1994 film Natural Born Killers.
A loop of Jo Stafford’s introduction was used by Caviar in “The Good Times Are Over” repeatedly throughout the song.
The song has also appeared on many soundtracks. Vonda Shepard’s cover was used frequently on the TV series Ally McBeal alongside romantic scenes of Ally McBeal and Billy Thomas. A version by Jason Wade was part of the soundtrack to the 2001 animated film Shrek. Singer Tori Amos also recorded the classic for the Julia Roberts film Mona Lisa Smilein 2003. Actress Rose McGowan sang it on the soundtrack for the Planet Terror segment of the 2007 film Grindhouse.
Mary Higgins Clark referenced the song throughout her novel of the same name, which was published by Pocket Books on April 1, 1999.
In the British film The Deep Blue Sea (released 2011), directed by Terence Davies, the drinkers in a London pub perform the song which later modulates into Jo Stafford’s version.
The song was also featured in the 2013 video game BioShock Infinite as part of its Burial at Sea story add-on. In the game the song is performed by the lead character Elizabeth and sung by her voice actress, Courtnee Draper (with fellow actor Troy Baker, who had previously portrayed Booker DeWitt, in said game) providing accompanying Acoustic guitar; footage of Draper performing the song in the recording studio is shown during the game’s end credits.