All The Way

Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn, and their pal Oscar.

Ace lyricist Sammy Cahn is back this time with his favorite collaborator, Chester Babcock DBA Jimmy Van Heusen. He took his stage name from the shirt on his back: Van Heusen. His cronies still called him Chet.

Van Heusen and Cahn were a perfect fit for Frank Sinatra. They wrote 3 Oscar winning songs for the Chairman of the Board; one of which was this week’s selection.

All The Way was written in 1957 for the Sinatra flick The Joker Is Wild. Frank loved Chet and Sammy and the feeling was mutual.

With the exception of Lena Horne, the best and most interesting versions of All The Way were recorded by male singers. I guess it’s a manly man tune.

We begin at the beginning with the patron saint of the Friday Cocktail Hour:

Most of the subsequent recordings of All The Way followed the Sinatra model of a string heavy arrangement. Who wants to mess with Frank? Lena Horne did not.

Here’s the great Sam Cooke’s take on the Van Heusen-Cahn standard.

James Brown did the most stripped-down version. Good gawd, y’all.

One of my favorite blue-eyed soul singers Paul Carrack tackled All The Way with a full symphony orchestra. He squeezed every ounce of emotion out of the song. Pun intended, he was in Squeeze off and on for many moons.

What would the Friday Cocktail Hour be without a Jazz instrumental version of this week’s song? This time, sax man King Curtis who was best known as an R&B player, but he dabbled quite successfully in Jazz. His take on Van Heusen’s melody is sublime.

That’s it for this week. Put on your fedora, pull out the cocktail shaker, and have one on me. It’s what Bogie, Frank, and Betty would want. Never argue with them.