“All of Me“ is a popular song and jazz standard written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons in 1931….. which has an ABAC structure….and is written in the key of B-flat major…..with a 20-bar introductory verse, but this is routinely omitted…..and it has often been said that the melody combines the contradictory possibilities of the song….with the downward thrusts of the opening phrases which hints at emotional despair….while the closing line, with its repeated high notes, seems almost jubilant…..while 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….then Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra recorded the song in December of that year with vocalist Mildred Bailey….which went to the top of the US pop charts….and within weeks, another two versions were in the charts….with a Louis Armstrong rendition also reaching # 1….and Ben Selvin and His Orchestra peaking at # 19. The song was used in the 1932 film Careless Lady…..while in the view of critic Ted Gioia, the definitive version was sung by Billie Holiday in 1941….after saying that “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 # 14 in the charts.
Frank Sinatra recorded several versions of “All of Me”…..as his 1948 release peaked at # 21…..whereas he also sang it in the film Meet Danny Wilson….which may have helped Johnnie Ray’s rendition up to # 12 in the charts that year…..as Sinatra’s use of “All of Me” brought a non-jazz audience to the song…..and so too did Willie Nelson’s version that was included in his Stardust album….while reaching # 3 on the Hot Country Songs chart in 1978…..and seen in this video herewith….as Willie Nelson & The Family Band perform “All Of Me” live on stage at Austin City Limits in 1981.
In 2000, “All of Me” was given the Towering Song Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame.