“All the things you are”

November 14, 2022 • 2:00 pm

Here’s a song that I found among the 1700-odd draft posts that are now in alphabetical order (notice the quotation marks, which counts before “A”).  It was in draft because I like it and it was written by a pair of master tunesmiths. Further, it has unusual modulations which makes it really attractive. The weird opening gives nothing away. There are many versions; another I like is Charlie Parker’s (here). And if you want to hear Stephen Sondheim’s deconstruction of the song, go here.

All the Things You Are” is a song composed by Jerome Kern with lyrics written by Oscar Hammerstein II.

The song was written for the musical Very Warm for May (1939) and was introduced by Hiram Sherman, Frances Mercer, Hollace Shaw, and Ralph Stuart. It appeared in the film Broadway Rhythm (1944) when it was sung by Ginny Simms, and again in the Kern biopic Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), sung by Tony Martin.

This version is by clarinetist Artie Shaw and his band, with Helen Forrest as the “canary”. Shaw begins by playing some sweet licorice stick (note him going from high to low 25 seconds in), and Forrest comes in at 1:29.

More information about Shaw:

Arthur Jacob Arshawsky was born on May 23, 1910, in New York City, United States; he was the son of Sarah (née Strauss) and Harold “Harry” Arshawsky, a dressmaker and photographer. The family was Jewish; his father was from Russia, his mother from Austria.

He was also married eight times, including to Lana Turner and to Ava Gardner, the world’s most beautiful woman.

Ava and another of her husbands.

17 thoughts on ““All the things you are”

  1. Beautiful. I’ve heard this piece before and probably have more than one rendition of it in my collection (on vinyl or CD). This version by Artie Shaw is spectacular. The syncopation makes each phrase a unique surprise. This band swings!

  2. I really need to set about listening to Jerome Kern. I find myself discovering songs by him that I really like. “All the Things You Are” is one of them. I’d certainly heard it before, but heard it again in July and was really taken with it. I love Helen Forrest–I think she is one of the, if not THE, best female Big Band vocalists–but her voice sounds thin here. Here is Tony Martin singing it from “Till the Clouds Roll By.”

  3. When I was a teenager in the 70’s I usually hated this kind of music. It was corny and boring, old- people’s- music. I say “usually” because I nevertheless adored old black and white musicals from the 30’s and 40’s. That’s where swing “belonged.”

    Now that this style has gone from out-of-date to Classic Vintage — and I’m no longer 15 years old and trying to establish my hip modern identity — I love it. Not all the time, no. But it’s great music and learning to appreciate it is easy, so easy to love.

    1. I scoffed at Nirvana when they were new.

      As it turns out , decades later – Cobain was a genius. I think that’s how it goes with music – the stuff _now_, we despise. Needs to simmer a while.

  4. Thanks for the Sondheim link. The YouTube channel for Adam Neely has some excellent analysis for the music theory geeks. Search out his videos on Celine Dion’s cover of All by Myself, and the one deconstructing Lady Gaga’s Star Spangled Banner at the Biden inauguration.

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