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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

(Pianist/educator Halberstadt devotes five pages to a musical analysis of the song and includes the sheet music.)
See the Reading and Research links on this page for additional references.

- Jeremy Wilson

Recommendations for This Tune
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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.
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.
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.

- 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.
Jay Thomas
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).

- 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
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.

- Ben Maycock

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