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I Should Care (1944)

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Origin and Chart Information
“Prior to pianist Bud Powell’s 1947 trio recording, this pretty ballad was the property of big band vocalists.”

- -Chris Tyle

Rank 47
Words and Music Sammy Cahn
Axel Stordahl
Paul Weston

Bob Allen introduced “I Should Care” with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in MGM’s Thrill of a Romance in 1945. Soon after the release of the film Martha Tilton had a hit with the song, the first of four appearances it would make on the pop charts that year. (Bob Allen’s rendition is included on Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey: Swingin’ In Hollywood.)

 

More on Bob Allen at JazzBiographies.com
 

The hit recordings of “I Should Care” include:

  • Martha Tilton (1945, with Eddie Miller and His Orchestra, #10)
  • Jimmy Dorsey and His orchestra (1945, Teddy Walters, vocal, #13)
  • Tommy Dorsey and His orchestra (1945, Bonnie Lou Williams and the Sentimentalists, vocals, #11)
  • Frank Sinatra (1945, with Axel Stordahl and His Orchestra, #8)
  • Ralph Flanagan and His Orchestra (1952, Harry Prime, vocal, #4)
  • Jeff Chandler (1954, with Victor Young and His Orchestra, #21)
 

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

The glossy musical, Thrill of a Romance starring Esther Williams and Van Johnson, appealed to war-weary audiences perhaps, in part, because of its lack of substance. Johnson is an air-force pilot who falls in love with a honeymooning swim instructor (Williams) while her husband is away on an emergency business trip. Adding spice to an otherwise bland production were Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra and Wagnerian tenor Lauritz Melchior in his film debut. Critical appraisals are generally unfavorable and run the gamut from “Delightful! A film well worth seeing...” to “Cloying ...a waste of time and money.” Other songs included in the soundtrack were “Please Don’t Say No, Say Maybe,” “Lovely Night,” “Vive L’Amour,” “Thrill of a Romance,” and “Schubert’s Serenade.”

 

More on Axel Stordahl at JazzBiographies.com
 
 

More on Paul Weston at JazzBiographies.com
 
 

More on Sammy Cahn at JazzBiographies.com
 

It is curious that Sammy Cahn, Axel Stordahl, and Paul Weston chose to share the credit for both the words and the music of “I Should Care.” As a rule, Cahn was the lyricist of the three. It is also perplexing that Cahn decided to use the song’s title for his 1974 autobiography I Should Care as he did not receive full credit for it in the first place.

More information on this tune...

Randy Halberstadt (Author)
Metaphors for the Musician: Perspectives from a Jazz Pianist
Sheer Music Co
Spiral-bound


(Pianist/educator Halberstadt devotes five pages to a musical analysis of the song and includes the sheet music.)
See the Reading and Research panel below for more references.

- Jeremy Wilson

Music and Lyrics Analysis

Musical analysis of “I Should Care”

Original Key C major
Form A- B1 - A - B2
Tonality Unsettled; the chord progression spends little time in the tonic key of C, using a number of half-diminished 7th chord substitutions to keep wandering from one tonal place to another before finally resolving to I in mm. 4, 20 and 31-32 at the very end.
Movement Primarily step-wise, with some skips no larger than a downward fifth.

Comments     (assumed background)

This is a gorgeous ballad with a rich, but challenging, harmonic progression that contains several deceptive resolutions. Strong chromatic, descending, guide-tone lines are evident throughout the piece, however. A careful linear analysis of the harmonic progression is necessary. Most of these lines begin on the 7th of a half-diminished (flatted fifth of a minor) chord. Piano skills are helpful in preparing this tune for effective performance.

Play through the progression, attempting to move the voices step-wise, and chromatic lines will become apparent. If the performer is unfamiliar with the piano keyboard, it is imperative to learn the melody “as-is” before attempting improvisation. Initial attempts at soloing over the changes should focus on melodic embellishment; don’t stray too far from the melody, at first. After some experience with the tune, the ear should be able to start picking out the guide-tone lines, which are valuable in expanding improvisational ideas for this tune.

K. J. McElrath - Musicologist for JazzStandards.com

Check out K. J. McElrath’s book of Jazz Standards Guide Tone Lines at his web site (www.bardicle.com).
Musicians' Comments

Like all well-crafted standards, Sammy Cahn’s gem, “I Should Care,” marries a beautiful melody with some predictable diatonic cadences. And like all great tunes from this golden era of American song, there are some little twists and unpredictable turns to the harmony that make this song an interesting challenge for the jazz soloist.

John Stowell, jazz guitarist
www.johnstowell.com


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Soundtrack information
“I Should Care” was included in these films:
  • Thrill of a Romance (1945, Bob Allen, Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra)
  • Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (1989, Thelonious Monk)
Reading and Research
Additional information for "I Should Care" may be found in:

David Ewen
American Songwriters: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary
H. W. Wilson
Hardcover: 489 pages


(1 paragraph including the following types of information: film productions, history and performers.)

Thomas S. Hischak
The American Musical Film Song Encyclopedia
Greenwood Press
Hardcover: 536 pages


(1 paragraph including the following types of information: summary.)

Robert Gottlieb, Robert Kimball
Reading Lyrics
Pantheon
Hardcover: 736 pages


(Includes the following types of information: song lyrics.)

Henry Martin
Enjoying Jazz
Schirmer Books
Paperback: 302 pages


(5 paragraphs including the following types of information: music analysis and performers.)

Randy Halberstadt (Author)
Metaphors for the Musician: Perspectives from a Jazz Pianist
Sheer Music Co
Spiral-bound


(5 pages including the following types of information: music analysis and sheet music.)
Also on This Page...

Music & Lyrics Analysis
Musician's Comments
Soundtracks
Reading & Research

Jazz History Notes
Getting Started
CD Recommendations
Listen and Compare
By the Same Writers...

Jazz History Notes

“I Should Care” has enjoyed popularity with the public from the day it was written. In 1947 jazz pianist Bud Powell introduced it as a jazz vehicle where it has found favor ever since.

-JW

Prior to Bud Powell’s 1947 trio recording, this pretty ballad was the property of big band vocalists. By the mid-1950s, however, it was increasingly played as an instrumental. Tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon recorded a beautiful rendition of it in 1955, and the next year tenor player Hank Mobley, along with trumpeter Donald Byrd, would cut yet another marvelous rendition.

A session in 1956, Presenting Ernie Henry, featured the alto saxophonist with a band which included the excellent trumpet playing of Kenny Dorham, and their version of “I Should Care” is a classic. Sadly, Henry’s career would be cut short by his untimely death at age 31, fourteen months after this session.

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian


Bud Powell
Bud's Bubble: 1944/1947
2000 Epm Musique 159742
Original recordings, 1946-47
Dexter Gordon
Blows Hot and Cool
Boplicity Records 6

iTunes
Hank Mobley
Messages
Prestige
Original recording 1956
iTunes
Ernie Henry
Presenting Ernie Henry
Original Jazz Classics 1920

Getting Started
This section suggests definitive or otherwise significant recordings that will help jazz students get acquainted with “I Should Care.” These recordings have been selected from the Jazz History and CD Recommendations sections.

“I Should Care” received its first definitive modern jazz treatment in 1947, courtesy of pianist Bud Powell, who gave it a lush trio performance (Bud’s Bubble: 1944/1947) with hints of Art Tatum. Thelonious Monk would also become a definitive interpreter of the song, though his approach, predictably, was far sparser. His 1957 recording (Thelonious Himself) is particularly lyrical and focused. Meanwhile, in 1962, Bill Evans gave a classic performance of the tune (How My Heart Sings!) which fully displayed its compatibility with swing-feel interpretations, a way of interpreting the tune that has become fairly commonplace.

Noah Baerman - Jazz Pianist and Educator

CD Recommendations for This Tune
Click on any CD for more details at Amazon.com
Abbey Lincoln/Hank Jones
When There Is Love
1994 Verve 314519697
Original recording 1994
Abbey Lincoln’s singing is always striking, soulful and adventurous, but it is a relatively rare occurrence to hear her focus on standards. This duo album with the great Hank Jones on piano is an exception, and their reading of “I Should Care”’ is intimate and haunting.
iTunes
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Himself
1991 Original Jazz Classics 254
Original recording 1957
Monk recorded this song on multiple occasions, and his angular but lyrical performance here gets right to the heart of the tune’s mixture of brightness and pathos.
iTunes
Bill Evans
How My Heart Sings!
1991 Original Jazz Classics 369
Original recording 1962
”I Should Care”’ is most often interpreted as a ballad, but it works quite well in a medium swing context. A great example of this is Bill Evans’ flowing performance here with Chuck Israels and Paul Motian.
iTunes

- Noah Baerman

John Lewis
The Wonderful World of Jazz
1990, Atlantic 90979
Original recording, 1960
Lewis, the pianist and often composer for the Modern Jazz Quartet, has assembled an all-star cast for this session. His quiet reading of “I Should Care”’ is just one of the jewels in this classic jazz album.
iTunes
Jay Thomas
Rapture
1996, Jazz Focus 13

The trumpet of multi-instrumentalist Thomas is smooth and languid on “I Should Care.” He’s ably accompanied by Travis Shook (p), Jon Wikon (d), and Phil Sparks (b).
iTunes

- Sandra Burlingame

Hampton Hawes
Bird Song
2004, Water
Original recording, 1958, Orig. Jazz Classics 1035
Pianist Hawes delivers a passionate reading of “I Should Care”’ which flows along with plenty of embellishments.
Mel Tormé
Tormé
2003, Verve
Original recording, 1958
Torme’s superb, melancholy vocals suit this Marty Paich arrangement to a tee. It is poignant without being overly sentimental.
iTunes

- Ben Maycock

Written by the Same Composer(s)...
This section shows the jazz standards written by the same writing team.

Sammy Cahn, Axel Stordahl and Paul Weston

Year Rank Title
1944 47 I Should Care
1945 695 Day By Day

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