All of Me (jazz standard)
|"All of Me"|
|Published||1931 by Irving Berlin, Inc.|
|Songwriter(s)||Gerald Marks, Seymour Simons|
Composition and characteristics
Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons wrote the words and music of "All of Me" in 1931. It has an ABAC structure, and is written in the key of B-flat major. There is a 20-bar introductory verse, but this is routinely omitted.
"The melody [...] combines the contradictory possibilities of the song. The downward thrusts of the opening phrases hint at emotional despair while the closing line, with its repeated high notes, seems almost jubilant." It is usually performed at a medium tempo. The harmony is relatively straightforward, and has served as the basis for Lennie Tristano's "Line Up", Warne Marsh's "Background Music", and Bill Dobbins's "Lo Flame".
"All of Me" first came to public awareness when a performance by Belle Baker was broadcast over the radio in 1931. Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra recorded the song on December 1 that year, with vocalist Mildred Bailey; this went to the top of the US pop charts. Within weeks, another two versions were in the charts, with a Louis Armstrong rendition also reaching No. 1, and Ben Selvin and His Orchestra peaking at No. 19. The song was used in the 1932 film Careless Lady. In the view of critic Ted Gioia, the definitive version was sung by Billie Holiday in 1941: "she staked a claim of ownership that no one has managed to dislodge in subsequent years". Two years later, Lynne Sherman's recording with Count Basie and His Orchestra reached No. 14 in the charts.
Frank Sinatra recorded several versions of "All of Me". His 1948 release peaked at No. 21. He also sang it in the film Meet Danny Wilson, which may have helped Johnnie Ray's rendition up to No. 12 in the charts that year. Sinatra's use of "All of Me" brought a non-jazz audience to the song, and so too did Willie Nelson, whose version was included in his Stardust album and reached No. 3 on the Hot Country Songs chart in 1978. In 2000, "All of Me" was given the Towering Song Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
- "All of Me (1931)". jazzstandards.com. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
- "All of Me (1931): Music and Lyrics Analysis". jazzstandards.com. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
- Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. Oxford University Press. pp. 12–13. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
- "Willie Nelson: Chart History". billboard.com. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
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