Carmen explained: "The song started with the solo. It started 4 bars at a time. Eventually, over a period of 2 months, that entire interlude had been written. Then my quest was to put this in the middle of an actual song. Then it was a matter of trying to figure out what kind of song and how could I do it. I was listening to Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto (written in 1901) and I heard the melody which I used for the verse. Then I needed a chorus. I went back and listened to a song that I had written in 1973 called 'Let's Pretend' for the Raspberries. I just took those notes and took it from there. I thought, ''Let's Pretend' was a nice melody.' The song didn't go quite as far as I thought it should have. I'll go back and steal from myself for this."
Carmen used the same notes from "Let's Pretend" to open his song "The Way We Used To Be."
Carmen: "There's not nearly as much fuel in being happy as there is in being miserable. Being miserable is a great catalyst for songwriting, for me anyway. I'm constantly amazed at the amount of wonderful work that Mozart did during periods when he was fairly happy. His music during those periods reflects the happiness. On the other hand, I can't imagine that Rachmaninoff was happy when he was writing the second symphony and second piano concerto. I don't think the anguish and angst of those melodies comes out of being peachy keen."
When he wrote this, Carmen thought the Rachmaninoff music was in the public domain, meaning he could use it free of charge. After this song came out, he found out it wasn't and agreed to a settlement with the Rachmaninoff estate.
Carmen: "If you walked in a record store and saw 'All By Myself' on the record label, you'd know what the song was about, and it's an emotion that everyone has felt at some point in their life. Therefore, it's a song that goes immediately to your heart. The lyrics are as simple as I could possibly make them. Sometimes my melodies are so dramatic that if the lyric is that dramatic, it's overkill."
Carmen: "The edited version was still about 4:22 so I know the song probably had to be edited. The only problem was that there really was no place to edit because it changed keys 4 different times within that piano interlude. Jimmy Ienner, the producer, and I had struggled trying to figure out how we could possibly do an edit.
Celine Dion covered this in 1996. Her version hit #4 in the US and #6 in the UK.
This has been used in the movies Clueless
(a version by Jewel plays as Cher (Alicia Silverstone) wanders Beverly Hills and contemplates her love life), Dawn of the Dead
(2004 version), and Shrek 2
. It was also used in Bridget Jones's Diary
when Bridget (Renee Zellweger) was alone and drunk on New Year's. The latter version was performed by Country artist Jamie O'Neal
, who told Songfacts: "Boy, that is a real challenge to sing a song like that. It's just one of those songs that has such a range to it that you've got to dig deep just to get the notes out."
O'Neal's version was used again in the third film of the series, Bridget Jones's Baby
, in 2016.
Elanor - Liverpool, United Kingdom
The song was performed by Charice in the April 19, 2011 episode of Glee. The actress and singer has an occasional part as talented rival glee club member, Sunshine Corazon. The comment was made that it was a tad inappropriate to hear the teenager singing the song's opening lines, "When I was young/ I never needed anyone / And making love was just for fun / Those days are gone"?
This was used in a 2019 commercial for T-Mobile
that ran during the 2019 Super Bowl. In the spot, a guy pours his heart out before realizing he's texting his Lyft driver.
This was used on two episodes of Friends in relation to Chandler and Joey's friendship. First, it appeared in season two's "The One Where Eddie Moves In," when the former roommates miss living together, then in season six's "The One With Mac And C.H.E.E.S.E," when they contemplate making up after a fight. The song was also included on Friends: The Ultimate Soundtrack (2005).
It also shows up on these TV shows:
Doom Patrol ("Penultimate Control" – 2019)
Psych ("Neil Simon's Lover's Retreat" – 2011)
30 Rock ("Argus" – 2010)
Scrubs ("My Old Friend's New Friend" – 2004)
That '70s Show ("Eric's Depression" – 2001)
Barry Williams and Florence Henderson, aka Greg and Carol Brady, performed this on The Brady Bunch Variety Hour in 1977.