At Last

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"At Last"
File:Etta James At La.jpg
Song by Etta James
from the album At Last!
B-side"I Just Want to Make Love to You"
Released1961
Format45 rpm
Recorded1960
GenreSoul blues
Length2:57
LabelArgo
Songwriter(s)Mack Gordon, Harry Warren
Producer(s)Phil Chess, Leonard Chess
"At Last"
Celine Dion - At Last promo.jpg
Song by Céline Dion
from the album A New Day Has Come
ReleasedDecember 9, 2002 (2002-12-09)
FormatPromotional recording
RecordedStudio Piccolo, Bananaboat Studios
GenrePop
Length4:16
LabelColumbia, Epic
Songwriter(s)Mack Gordon, Harry Warren
Producer(s)Humberto Gatica, Guy Roche
"At Last"
File:Beyonceatlast.jpg
Song by Beyoncé
from the album Cadillac Records: Music From the Motion Picture
ReleasedDecember 9, 2008 (2008-12-09)
FormatMusic download
GenreSoul blues
Length2:58
LabelColumbia

"At Last" is a 1941 song performed by legendary R&B singer Etta James and written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the musical film Orchestra Wives, starring George Montgomery and Ann Rutherford. It was first performed in the film and on record by Glenn Miller and his orchestra, vocal by Ray Eberle and Pat Friday, although unreleased recordings of the song were made in 1941 for possible inclusion in the film Sun Valley Serenade. It was recorded in Chicago on May 20, 1942 and released by RCA Victor Records as catalogue number 27934. According to the tsort.info website (http://tsort.info/music/jkgsu0.htm), the song was a major hit for Miller, reaching number 9 on the Billboard pop charts in 1942, staying on the charts for 9 weeks, and it soon became a standard. In 1960, it was covered by blues singer Etta James in a performance that improvised on Warren's melody. James' version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.[1]

Original and cover versions

The song was a favorite of Warren's and he would occasionally draw the melody of the first two bars of the song when signing an autograph.

The song became James's 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 rather low pop chart standing, the song is well-known and is still played regularly on oldies radio stations.

In the decades since its release it has been covered by a number of artists. The Etta James version is perhaps the most famous, and is known to be performed at weddings and wedding receptions because of its romantic lyrics and sweeping orchestration.

On January 20, 2009, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama danced to various renditions of the song at each of the 10 official balls honoring his inauguration.

On August 13, 2009, Connecticut contestant Katie Stevens covered this song in her audition for American idol.

Céline Dion version

"At Last" was covered by Céline Dion and included on her 2002 album A New Day Has Come.[2] 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 A New Day Has Come 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.

Beyoncé version

"At Last" was also covered by Beyoncé Knowles and included on the Cadillac Records: Music From the Motion Picture. In the film, Knowles portrays Etta James. Knowles also sang the song 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, much to the chagrin of Etta James, who remarked to the audience at a concert a week later "that woman...singing my song, she gonna get her ass whupped," and "I can't stand Beyoncé,"[3][4] though she later told the New York Daily News she "didn't really mean anything" by her comments.[5] The event was telecast live on multiple broadcast and cable television networks. At each of the balls, the Obamas' dance song remained "At Last". Beyoncé version won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance at the 52nd Grammy Awards.

Cover versions

Charts

Artist Chart (1961) Peak
position
Etta James U.S. Billboard Hot 100[6] 47
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Sides[7] 1
UK (in 2010) [8] 69
Artist Chart (2002) Peak
position
Céline Dion US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[9] 16
Artist Chart (2008) Peak
position
Beyoncé U.S. Billboard Hot 100[10] 67
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[11] 79
U.S. Billboard Jazz songs[12] 9

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."

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.

The Etta James version 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.

The song was used in FOX's post-game coverage of Game 4 of the 2004 World Series when the Boston Red Sox ended an 86-year championship drought.

At the many inaugural balls for President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009, the featured number for the President's and First Lady's first dance was "At Last", performed live by Beyoncé Knowles.

The Etta James version of the song was featured in an almost silent episode of Two Guys and a Girl/

Kevin Michael performed a cover of the song during the wedding scene in the 2009 film (500) Days of Summer.

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 2010 Alice Tan Ridley performed this song for her audition on America's Got Talent. The judges praised her for her performance and she moved on to the next round.

It was used in the trailer for the 2008 film Wall-E (Etta James Version).

References