It's All In The Game

Album: Tommy Edwards Greatest Hits (1951)
Charted: 1 1


  • This is the only #1 hit ever written by a US Vice President. It was composed in 1911 by then-banker Charles Gates Dawes, who became VP under Calvin Coolidge in 1925. The lyrics were added in 1951 by the Brill Building songwriter Carl Sigman, who also changed the song's name to 'It's All in the Game.' In The Carl Sigman Songbook, Sigman's son Michael writes:

    "The most interesting story-behind-a-song saga in Carl's career began with a phone call from a publisher. For years Carl had thought about writing a lyric for a tune he remembered from his classical training. 'The Dawes Melody,' or 'Melody in A Major,' was a classical violin and orchestra piece composed in 1911 by none other than Charles G. Dawes, later Vice President of the United States under Calvin Coolidge. Dawes composed the piece in a single piano sitting. 'It's just a tune that I got in my head, so I set it down,' he told an interviewer.

    He played it for a friend, the violinist Francis MacMillan, who liked it enough to show it to a publisher, and Dawes was officially a composer. The tune garnered some popularity when Jascha Heifetz used it for a time as a light concert encore. Early in 1951, Carl decided to try and write a lyric to the theme, believing that it was in the public domain, as free of complications as an old Mozart melody. He knew the two-octave range would be a problem, but figured he could fool around with the melody, take out the high notes and make it more singable. By sheer coincidence, Warner Brothers publishing executive Mac Goldman called one day to ask Carl to consider writing a lyric to 'The Dawes Melody,' the copyright for which, it turned out, was owned by Warners.

    Once Carl recovered from the news that the song was in fact already copyrighted, he rejiggered the tune and realized that a phrase from another song he was working on, a conversational phrase he'd plucked from the vernacular, was perfect for this tune. Once he plugged that title into its proper place, the lyrics to 'It's All In the Game,' to quote Carl, 'wrote themselves.'

    Many a tear has to fall but it's all in the game
    All in the wonderful game that we know as love
    You have words with him and your future's looking dim
    But these things your hearts can rise above

    Once in a while he won't call but it's all in the game
    Soon he'll be there at your side with a sweet bouquet
    And he'll kiss your lips and caress your waiting fingertips
    And your hearts will fly away

    Carl also wrote this never-recorded intro, to be sung prior to 'Many a Tear...'

    Where love's concerned
    At times you'll think your world has overturned
    But if he's yours, and if you're his
    Remember this...

    Unfortunately, the vice president never got to hear the lyric. On the day Carl handed in the finished assignment, Dawes died of a heart attack, prompting Mac Goldman to quip, 'Your lyric must have killed him.'"
  • Edwards version was in Waltz time, and it made the #18 in late 1951 as his followup to another 1951 hit, "Morning Side of the Mountain." The song was quickly covered by Louis Armstrong, Dinah Shore, Carmen Cavallaro and Sammy Kaye.
  • After "It's All in the Game" hit, Edwards' fortunes declined to the point of MGM Records getting ready to drop him in 1958. As a last-ditch effort to save his career, he agreed to re-record this as one of the first stereo singles ever released. He kept the vocal style of the 1951 hit, but used a doo-wop arrangement. The single quickly took the top position on the charts and became one of the biggest hits of the '50s.

    As a followup, Edwards re-recorded "Morning Side of the Mountain" and his minor 1952 hit "Please Mr. Sun" in the same stereo/doo-wop vein and released them as a single. "Please Mr. Sun" (the A-side) hit #11 and "Morning Side of the Mountain" (the B-side) reached #27.
  • "It's All in the Game" was also a #25 hit for Cliff Richard in 1964 and a #24 hit for the Four Tops in 1970, six months after Edwards' death. Other popular covers include two Country chart entries, by Tom T. Hall and Merle Haggard in the 1970s and '80s respectively; as well as versions by Van Morrison, Bobby Vee, Isaac Hayes, Jackie DeShannon, Cass Elliot, Elton John, Nick Lowe, Bobby Blue Bland, Art Garfunkel, Keith Jarrett, and Freddy Fender.
  • The song is often used to evoke the '50 in movies, including Diner and She's Having a Baby, and on TV shows, including October Sky and Columbo.

Comments: 6

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 14th 1958, Tommy Edwards performed "It's All in the Game" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    At the time the song was at #11 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on September 29th it peaked at #1 {for 6 weeks} and spent a total of 22 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on the same day that it peaked at #1 on the Top 100 it also reached #1 {for 3 non-consecutive weeks} on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Between 1951 and 1960 he had twenty-one Top 100 records, with "It's All in the Game" being his only Top 10 record...
    But he just missed having a second Top 10 record when "Please, Mr. Sun" peaked at #11 {for 1 week} in 1959...
    Sadly, Mr. Edwards passed away on October 22nd, 1969 at the young age of 47 {a brain aneurysm}...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 19th 1970, "It's All In The Game" by the Four Tops entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #99; and on June 28th it peaked at #24 (for 1 week) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #6 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart and #5 in the United Kingdom.
  • Martin from Fresno, CaA great song. His other songs were bigger hits for artists who covered those songs like "Mr.Sun," but this song will be a song no other artist can do as well.
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlI LOVE the FOUR TOPS version from 1970 - a much different arrangement than the 1958 version-
  • John from Appleton, WiAlso the oly song written by a Nobel Prize winner.
  • Mickey from Ocala, FlThis song was # 1 for Tommy Edwards in 1958.
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