Apr 4, 2014

Like Someone in Love - Part 1 (What key?)

"Like Someone in Love" is one of the great standards, basic to the jazz repertoire. The tune was written by Jimmy Van Heusen, with lyrics by Johnny Burke, and was first introduced in the 1944 movie "Belle of the Yukon," sung by Dinah Shore. In March 1945, Bing Crosby's version reached #15 on the Billboard chart. It's been recorded by a host of jazz luminaries.

It's a "must-know" tune, but fakebooks and recordings show different takes on the harmony, and present the tune in different keys (in fakebooks, either C or Eb). If you call this tune at a session, you should make sure that everyone is on the same page.

First, about the key - The original sheet music was in the key of C. I'll have more to say about printed versions, and chord changes, in the next post. For now, here is a list of performers, with the dates and keys of their recordings:

As you can see, the keys are all over the place. Dinah Shore's key of F# seems unlikely - perhaps the result of imperfect recording equipment. Sinatra's key of Ab appears to have been picked up in subsequent recordings by a number of jazz artists (Coltrane, Blakey, Dolphy, Gordon, Jamal). Others like the key of C (the original sheet music key). Vocalists probably chose keys that worked well for their range.

The New Real Book shows "Like Someone in Love" in the key of C. Both the old bootleg Real Book and the Hal Leonard "6th Edition" version show the tune in Eb, as does the iRealBook, though no jazz artist that I listened to recorded it in that key. I would guess that Hal Leonard just copied the key from the old RB, but it's a mystery to me why the old RB would have chosen Eb. I could see a good case for C or Ab, but not Eb.

Update: Stan Getz did record it in Eb, on his 1991 album "People Time," with Kenny Barron (thanks, Larry!).

Most of the recordings cited here can be found on Youtube. Here's Coltrane in 1959, with Cecil Taylor, Kenny Dorham, Chuck Israels, and Louis Hayes. The album is from a Cecil Taylor recording session, originally issued under Taylor's name with the title "Stereo Drive," later reissued as "Coltrane Time." They play "Like Someone in Love" in Ab.

In the next post, I'll look at some different versions of the chord changes.

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