Saturday, January 27, 1990

50 years ago: Tommy Dorsey landed at #1 with “All the Things You Are”

All the Things You Are

Tommy Dorsey with Jack Leonard

Writer(s):Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II (see lyrics here)

First Charted: December 16, 1939

Peak: 12 US, 12 HP, 1 GA (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.11 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“All the Things You Are” was introduced in the Broadway musical comedy Very Warm for May in November 1939. SB It was sung by Hirma Sherman, Frances Mercer, Hollace Shaw, and Ralph Stuart. DJ The show was the last hurrah for famed composer Jerome Kern. Despite delivering what some considered his finest score, script rewrites demanded from producer Max Gordon destroyed the play’s plot. It was a commercial failure, closing shortly after New Year’s Day after only 59 performances. By the second night, there were only 20 people in the audience. SB

The song is “a ballad of exquisite beauty, but also such melodic complexity” SS along with its unconventional structure and twelve-note range that Kern didn’t have high hopes for “All the Things” being popular. MM He even considered removing it from the show because it was too “musically sophisticated” SS and “the public wouldn’t get it.” SS However, it has been regarded by some as his masterpiece. SS Composer Arthur Schwartz considered it the greatest song ever written. SS

Three versions of the song charted in 1940. It became the twelfth of Tommy Dorsey’s seventeen trips to the summit. It featured vocalist Jack Leonard, who would also sing on the chart-topping “Indian Summer,” which hit the charts a week before “All the Things You Are,” but reached #1 after “Things.” This was the last big hit for Leonard with Dorsey’s orchestra. He left in November 1939, succeeded by Frank Sinatra. SS

Artie Shaw (#8) and Frankie Masters (#14) also found success with the song in 1940. Four years later, the show was adapted for the film Broadway Rhythm DJ and in 1945 it was used in the romantic comedy A Letter for Evie. WK Tony Martin sang it in Kern’s 1946 biopic Till the Clouds Roll By and it was crooned by Mario Lanza in the 1952 film Because You’re Young. DJ

It became a standard covered by Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Placido Domingo, Ella Fitzgerald, Erroll Garner, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, Wes Montgomery, Willie Nelson, Oscar Peterson, Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand. A survey done by identified “Things”as second only to “Body and Soul” for appearances on jazz albums. SB Parker said the song contained his favorite lyrics. WK In a 1964 Saturday Review poll, more composers named “All the Things” as their favorite than any other. TY1


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Last updated 4/10/2023.

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