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After You've Gone (1918)

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Origin and Chart Information
“Loosely based on the chords of ‘After You’ve Gone,’ Art Pepper’s signature tune ‘Straight Life’ is the title he would eventually use for his autobiography.”

- JW

Rank 34
Words and Music Henry Creamer
Turner Layton

Creamer and Layton’s “After You’ve Gone,” joins “St. Louis Blues” (1914) and “Indiana” (1917) as the top three pre-1920s jazz standards. Few compositions of the early 20th century endured the transition to the smooth swing sound of the 1930s and beyond.


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Al Jolson introduced “After You’ve Gone” to the vaudeville audience at the Wintergarden Theater in 1918. Within a year several other artists had recorded the song, but it was Marion Harris’s rendition that became the most popular, rising to number one for three weeks in 1919.


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“After You’ve Gone” appeared on the charts:


Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

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Alec Wilder
American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950
Oxford University Press; Reprint edition
Hardcover: 576 pages

(In his definitive book on American popular song, Wilder devotes a page to his musical analysis of “After You’ve Gone.”)

- Jeremy Wilson

Recommendations for This Tune
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Bessie Smith
The Essential Bessie Smith
Date Sony 64922
Original recording 1927
Smith offers a classic early interpretation of this song. The sound, not surprisingly, is deep and bluesy, with accompaniment by some of her most sensitive collaborators, including clarinetist Buster Bailey, trombonist Jimmy Harrison, cornetist Joe Smith and pianist Fletcher Henderson.
Benny Goodman
Original Benny Goodman Trio and Quartet Sessions, Vol. 1: After You've Gone
Original recording 1936
Clarinetist Goodman shines on this spirited performance, as do pianist Teddy Wilson and drummer Gene Krupa, his cohorts in this historic trio.
Roy Eldridge, Anita O'Day with Gene Krupa's Orchestra
Sony 45448
Original recording 1941
Drummer Krupa is the bandleader here, but the focus is on the trumpet of Roy Eldridge. The arrangement revolves around the powerful playing that made “Little Jazz” such a dominant influence on subsequent players like Dizzy Gillespie.
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong Collection, Vol. 5: Louis in New York
1990 Sony 46148
Original recording 1929
This album includes three takes of Armstrong’s classic rendition of “After You’ve Gone,” featuring his own New York-based larger ensemble of the late 1920s. For added contrast, one take features his singing in addition to his trumpet playing, while the other two takes are instrumental.
Charlie Parker
Ultimate Charlie Parker
1999 Polygram 559708
Original recording 1946
This up-tempo live recording from 1946 features Charlie Parker flanked by an all-star cast and doing what he does best, playing endlessly creative and nimble lines at a bright tempo.

- Noah Baerman

Mark Elf
A Minor Scramble
1997, Jen Bay Jazz #3

Guitarist Elf is featured here in a variety of settings with several fine jazz musicians. The clarity of his playing is showcased on “After You’ve Gone”’ against the backdrop provided by Peter Washington (b) and Louis Nash (d).
Nicholas Payton
Gumbo Nouveau
Polygram Records
Original recording 1996
Trumpeter Payton has taken some of the chestnuts associated with New Orleans and updated them. “After You’ve Gone” is refreshed with modern harmonies by his young and forward-looking sextet.
Shirley Horn
Loads of Love & Shirley With Horns
Polygram Records
Original Recording 1963
Horn was famous for slowing things down. Here, in contrast to the bluesy or uptempo interpretations of most singers, she takes “After You’ve Gone” sweetly as a slow ballad--probably the only singer who could do so and make it convincing.

- Sandra Burlingame

Dinah Washington
Sings Bessie Smith
1999, Polygram Records
Original recording, 1958
A supremely bluesy interpretation by jazz singer Dinah Washington. When she threatens with “You’ll miss the dearest pal you ever had,”’ you can’t help but believe it.
Sonny Criss
Complete Imperial Sessions
2000, Blue Note 24564
Original recording, 1956
The pace is dizzying as alto saxophonist Sonny Criss chews up the scenery on this bebop version of the song.
Wynton Marsalis
Standard Time Vol.5: The Midnight Blues
1998 Columbia 68921
Original recording 1998
Backed by strings on this track, Marsalis’ lyrical trumpet is hauntingly beautiful. He once again proves what a tactician he is without losing an ounce of emotion.

- Ben Maycock

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