|Single by Etta James|
|from the album At Last!|
|B-side||"I Just Want to Make Love to You"|
|Released||November 15, 1960|
|Genre||Soul blues, traditional pop|
|Writer(s)||Mack Gordon, Harry Warren|
|Producer||Phil Chess, Leonard Chess|
|Etta James singles chronology|
"At Last" is a 1941 song written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the musical film Orchestra Wives, starring George Montgomery and Ann Rutherford. It was performed in the film and on record by Glenn Miller and his orchestra, with vocals by Ray Eberle and Pat Friday. Unreleased recordings of the song, however, had been made in 1941 by Glenn Miller for possible inclusion in the film Sun Valley Serenade. An orchestral version of the song without lyrics first appeared in that movie in 1941. A new version was recorded by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra in Chicago on May 20, 1942, and released by RCA Victor Records as a 78 single, catalogue number 27934-B, backed with the A side "(I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo". The song reached number 9 on the Billboard pop charts in 1942, staying on the charts for 9 weeks, and later became a standard. In 1960, it was covered by blues singer Etta James in an arrangement by Riley Hampton that improvised on Warren's melody. James' version was the title track in the same-named album At Last! and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
Original and cover versions 
The song was a favorite of Harry Warren's and he would occasionally draw the melody of the first two bars of the song when signing an autograph.
Former Glenn Miller Orchestra trumpeter Ray Anthony had the highest charting recording of the song in the U.S. on the pop charts in 1952, peaking at no. 2 on the Billboard pop singles chart and no. 20 on the Cashbox chart.
The song became Etta James' signature song and was the third in a string of successful songs from her Chess Records debut album At Last!. In April 1961, it became her second number 2 R&B hit and crossed over to pop radio, reaching number 47 on the Billboard Hot 100. Despite its modest pop chart standing, the song is well-known and is still played regularly on oldies radio stations. The James version reached the top 40 in Cashbox and Music Vendor.
In the decades since its release it has been covered by many artists. The Etta James version, with its passionate vocal and sweeping orchestration, is often chosen for weddings and wedding receptions.
An unusual "cover" was released under the title: "Theme From 'The Last Time I Saw Archie'" (from the movie starring Robert Mitchum). Percy Faith charted the medley of "At Last" and "Angel Face", which reached #91 in 1961 in the US Music Vendor Top 100.
During her audition in Dallas for the first season of American Idol, Kelly Clarkson sang "At Last." On August 13, 2009, Connecticut contestant Katie Stevens covered this song in her American Idol audition.
Singer Christina Aguilera, who has been influenced by James since she started singing, performed the song at James's funeral in January 2012. Her performance received a standing ovation.
Ledisi covered the song at the 2012 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame during the "In Memoriam" montage in response to Etta James' death in January of that year.
Additional cover versions include:
Cultural references 
In the final scene of the May 10, 2004 series finale of the UPN sitcom The Parkers, Kim Parker (Countess Vaughn) sings the song following the wedding of her mother Nikki Parker (Mo'Nique) and the longtime object of Nikki's affection, Professor Stanley Oglevee (Dorien Wilson). Appropriately, the episode is entitled "At Last."
The Etta James version is used in several movies and television series. Her version of "At Last" is in the 1998 film Pleasantville, appearing in the score behind the decisive scene when the pink 1950s-era Buick convertible carries the newly enlightened kids down to the park by the lake in a gentle shower of pink blossoms. It was also used in American Pie in one of the early scenes of the film where lovestruck Jim approaches foreign exchange student Nadia at a party. In addition, the song was used in the 1988 film Rain Man in the scene where Charlie is teaching his brother Raymond how to slow dance. The Etta James version was featured in an almost silent episode of Two Guys and a Girl. A brief clip of the song (Etta James) is heard on Strong Arms of the Ma of the TV series, The Simpsons, when Marge rips the jukebox out of the wall at Moe's Tavern. Additionally, it was played in The Simpsons episode The Wife Aquatic, when Homer clubs the haul of Yum Yum Fish that has just been caught. The Etta James version is also used in the Chuck episode Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner. The movie Little Manhattan also features this song in the wedding scene.
The song is covered by R&B/jazz artist Felicia Loud in the 2007 feature documentary "Inlaws & Outlaws", directed by Drew Emery.
In the 2008 film, My Mother's New Boyfriend, a romantic comedy directed by George Gallo, Eva Cassidy's version is played at the very end of the film.
It was used in the trailer for the 2008 film Wall-E (Etta James Version).
In the 2009 series of The X Factor, Stacey Solomon performed this song on Diva Week. The performance received mixed reviews from judges, Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole both enjoyed it but Simon Cowell said she was out of her comfort zone. In the 2011 series it was performed by Johnny Robinson.
At the first of many inaugural balls for President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009, Beyoncé Knowles performed At Last live for the President's and First Lady's first dance, reprising her Grammy-winning performance of the song in the 2008 film Cadillac Records.
The Etta James version was played in its entirety during the opening scenes of the CSI: NY episode, "Blood Actually" (Season 9, Episode 16, 15 February 2013).
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||47|
|U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Sides||1|
|UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)||69|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||39|
Céline Dion version 
|Single by Céline Dion|
|from the album A New Day Has Come|
|Released||December 9, 2002|
|Recorded||Studio Piccolo, Bananaboat Studios|
|Writer(s)||Mack Gordon, Harry Warren|
|Producer||Humberto Gatica, Guy Roche|
|Céline Dion singles chronology|
"At Last" was covered by Céline Dion and included on her sixth English-language album A New Day Has Come (2002). Her version was produced by Humberto Gatica and Guy Roche, and released as a promotional single in the United States on December 9, 2002. However, there was no music video made for the song. It was also the last single released from the album. "At Last" peaked at number 16 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks. A live version of this song was included on the A New Day... Live in Las Vegas album in 2004, as Dion performed it for four years during her A New Day... show in Las Vegas.
Background and composition 
While commenting about the song, Celine revealed, "I can see beginning my show and looking into everyone's eyes and singing this song. This is my hello."
The version of the song, written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, was produced by Humberto Gatica and Guy Roche and it is featured on Dion's sixth English-language album A New Day Has Come (2002). The song is a soul soliloquy where Dion, accompanied by the delicate chords of a violin, sings about the joy of love found "at last".
Critical reception 
The song was critically acclaimed. Frédéric Garat of RFI wrote that the song is "a lovely exercise which reveals the layer of blues hiding underneath the slightly prim and proper petticoats of the 'international star'." Barnes & Noble's Editorial review commented, "Her solid rendition of Etta James's 'At Last' should satisfy her lovelorn fans." Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine called it "a soulful rendition." Chuck Taylor of Billboard said that this "standard" serves her grown-up fans. However, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone commented that "she doesn't have the pipes for material defined by Etta James." Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly agreed, calling it a "pallid cover."
|US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks||16|
Beyoncé Knowles version 
|Single by Beyoncé|
|from the album Cadillac Records|
|Released||December 9, 2008|
|Beyoncé singles chronology|
"At Last" was also covered by Beyoncé Knowles and included on the soundtrack album of the film, Cadillac Records. It was released on the soundtrack album on December 2, 2008 through Columbia Records. In the film, Knowles portrays Etta James. Beyoncé won critical acclaim for portraying James in "Cadillac Records," and has performed "At Last" several times since the movie was released, including in front of James. She told MTV News: "[Etta James is] one of my heroes, and I always loved her voice, but now knowing what she's been through, she's one of my heroes. I'm not sure if she thought [I would be good] as her. I'm very, very nervous. [...] I actually spoke with her and she told me, 'I loved you from the first time you sung.'" Knowles later told Billboard: "I realized that Etta James was so unapologetic, bold and strong that playing her was a big risk for me. It gave me the confidence and the push to challenge myself a little more with my music."
Critical reception 
John Kehe of The Christian Science Monitor wrote: "No one can channel Etta – she's a singular talent – but Beyoncé does it her own way and conjurs enough emotion and grit to make it work in the context of the movie." A. O. Scott of The New York Times added that Knowles' interpretation of "At Last" was "downright revelatory" and described Knowles as "a real soul diva of the old school." By contrast, Thom Jurek of Allmusic wrote that on "At Last", "Knowles possesses little of the legendary singer's power or edgy finesse. She's entirely too polished and restrained. Her phrasing doesn't come close in terms of inventiveness or inspiration, and her emotional conviction is lacking, to say the least."
This was somehow echoed by Robert Fontenot of About.com who thought that Knowles "sings Etta like a diva -- technically proficient, but overemoted and lacking every bit of Etta's sly subtext and hard-won earthiness. Beyoncé knows how to sing the blues, in other words; she just doesn't know how to have them." Knowles' version of "At Last" won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance at the 52nd Grammy Awards. On The Village Voice' 2008 year-end Pazz & Jop singles list, Knowles' version of "At Last" was ranked at number 443.
Live performances 
Knowles performed the song live at Barack Obama's first dance with his wife Michelle during the Neighborhood Ball on the night of his inauguration as President of the United States. She told Entertainment Tonight: "To sing 'At Last' while they have their first dance is a dream come true. I could not be more honored and excited that they have asked me to be part of this moment in history." Etta James, who was not happy at all, remarked to the audience at a concert a week later: "You guys know your president, right? You know the one with the big ears?" James asked from the stage of Seattle's Paramount Theatre. "Wait a minute, he ain't my president. He might be yours; he ain't my president. But I tell you that woman he had singing for him, singing my song — she's going to get her ass whupped."
A week later, she continued savaging Knowles' performance by adding: "The great Beyoncé. Like I said, she ain't mine. [...] I can't stand Beyoncé. She has no business up there, singing up there on a big ol' president day, gonna be singing my song that I've been singing forever." However, she later told the New York Daily News she meant no harm when poked fun at the President and she ripped Knowles for her performance of "At Last" during the inauguration. She said: "I didn't really mean anything. Even as a little child, I've always had that comedian kind of attitude. [...] That's probably what went into it." Still, James acknowledged being miffed she was not invited to perform her signature song for Obama's first dance with his wife on inauguration night. The event was telecast live on multiple broadcast and cable television networks. At each of the balls, the Obamas' dance song remained "At Last". Knowles also performed "At Last" live at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival on June 26, 2011.
Format and track listing 
- Digital download
- "At Last (Live from Fashion Rocks)" – 2:53
Weekly charts 
Year-end charts 
Release history 
|United States||November 3, 2008||Smooth jazz radio||Music World, Columbia|
|October 27, 2009||Urban contemporary radio|
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