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Like Someone in Love (1944)

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Origin and Chart Information
“...[Jimmy Van Heusen] was the house Mozart for America’s two princes of relaxation, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.”

- William Zinsser

Rank 147
Music Jimmy Van Heusen
Lyrics Johnny Burke

“Like Someone in Love” was introduced in the movie Belle of the Yukon by Dinah Shore who played a dance hall singer in one of her early films. The musical comedy/Western, set during the days of the Canadian Gold Rush, also starred Randolph Scott and Gypsy Rose Lee as his girlfriend (the belle of the title). The film did not do well at the box office, but one of the other Van Heusen and Burke songs, “Sleighride in July,” was nominated for an Oscar. It was Bing Crosby who took “Like Someone in Love” to the charts in 1945 where it reached #15 during its one-week stay.


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

Crosby was instrumental in getting the team of composer Jimmy Van Heusen and lyricist Johnny Burke assigned to his motion pictures, requesting them for Road to Zanzibar in 1941 which led to other “Road” pictures and dozens of hit songs.


More on Johnny Burke at JazzBiographies.com

More on Jimmy Van Heusen at JazzBiographies.com

“Like Someone in Love” is another one of Van Heusen’s easy-going melodies. As William Zinsser says in his book Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs, “...He was the house Mozart for America’s two princes of relaxation, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.” And Burke’s lyrics also invite a relaxed mood: “Lately I find myself out gazing at stars, Hearing guitars like someone in love.” Well, that’s love for you, as Burke suggests. It can provoke conduct that will “astound” you.

The song has had a broad range of interpreters. John Coltrane recorded a memorable version in 1957, and both Ella Fitzgerald and Art Blakey used it as the title cut of their respective albums in 1957 and 1960. Bassist Charles Mingus, vocalist Blossom Dearie, pianist Ahmad Jamal, saxophonist Bud Shank, guitarist Herb Ellis, and the vocal group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross recorded it. New versions have been released by pianist Jessica Williams, vocalist Rebecca Kilgore, trumpeter Ryan Kisor, guitarist Martin Taylor, and saxophonists Eric Alexander and Joe Lovano.

More information on this tune...

William Zinsser
Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs
David R. Godine Publisher
Hardcover: 279 pages

(Zinsser offers an analysis of the lyric in his book.)

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

(Wilder analyzes the musical content of the song in his book.)

- Sandra Burlingame

Music and Lyrics Analysis

Musical analysis of “Like Someone in Love”

Original KeyEb major
FormA1 - B1 - A2 - B2
TonalityMajor throughout
MovementGenerally, upward leaping motion followed by stepwise descent; two descending fifths in “B1.”

Comments     (assumed background)

Some very nice counterpoint between the melodic line and the bass line, which initially descends by step. Although Van Heusen uses ii7-V7 embellishments, the continued linear movement of the bass is strongly implied by the overall harmonic structure. For example, in mm. 3-5 of “A,” he uses F7/A - Bb7/Ab- Gm7 - C7(b9) | Fm7 - Am7 - D7| Gm7 -Bbm7 - Eb7. However, he could have chosen to repeat the linear bass pattern in mm. 4-5: Fm7 - Ab/Eb - D7| Gm7 - Bb/F - Eb7. In either case, a nice sequence is set up; the former is harmonically more interesting, whereas a “classical” composer might have chosen the latter. Both versions have the same voice-leading tendencies, however.

“B” starts on the subdominant, then drops a half step (using a tri-tone ii7 embellishment) to G7, resolving to C major. By turning to C minor, it requires only a simple vi - ii7 - V7 sequence to return to the original key.

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

This song has fabulous chord progressions throughout which lend themselves to a descending bass line in many places, including in the beginning of each 16-bar phrase. There is a great substitution in bar 6 (and then again in bar 22, of course), which would be, in the key of C, F#m11 (2 beats) to a B7-5 (1 beat) to a B9 (1 beat), instead just of a plain G13 (2 beats) to perhaps a G7+5 (2 beats) leading back to the C9/6 - the latter would be very boring. Most advanced “jazzers,” even if purists, seem to play the former progression - most are aware of and “into” it.

I don’t know the theoretical analysis of that subsitution, I only know that I do it in my vocal key which is also the Real Book key, Eb. In that key, the changes would be Am11 (2 beats) to D7-5 and D9 (1 beat each, as in C) as opposed to a plain Bb13 to a Bb7+5 leading back to the Eb9/6 tonic for bar 7.

It just flows so well for me - like warm syrup! I love to sing it as well as play it - it just “lays” well.

Nina Beck, Jazz Pianist & Vocalist


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Reading and Research
Additional information for "Like Someone in Love" may be found in:

William Zinsser
Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs
David R. Godine Publisher
Hardcover: 279 pages

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

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

(2 paragraphs including the following types of information: music analysis.)

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
Hardcover: 736 pages

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

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

(1 page including the following types of information: music analysis.)
Free Chord Changes for this Tune
Chord changes and downloadable tracks at PlayJazzNow.com
Also on This Page...

Music & Lyrics Analysis
Musician's Comments
Reading & Research
Free Chord Changes

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

Jazz History Notes

A fine session from 1956 by tenor saxophonist Stan Getz’ swinging quartet finds him playing “Like Someone in Love” at a medium bounce tempo; a tad unusual, but he pulls it off with aplomb.

At the same time another tenor saxophonist, John Coltrane, was creating a stir in the jazz community. His 1957 trio recording of “Like Someone in Love” (accompanied by just bass and drums) garnered him critical accolades. Later that year, the father of the tenor sax, Coleman Hawkins, turned in a mellow version of the tune.

Trumpeter Art Farmer’s 1958 date spotlights yet another tenor saxophonist, Benny Golson, who was a friend of John Coltrane. Golson is featured on “Like Someone in Love,” playing in a manner reminiscent of Don Byas. Pianist Bill Evans provides a sensitive accompaniment and solo, and Farmer turns in a marvelous muted solo.

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian

Stan Getz
The Steamer
Polygram Records 547771
Original recording, 1956
John Coltrane
Lush Life
Original Jazz Classics 131
Original recording, 1958, Prestige Records
Coleman Hawkins
Genius of Coleman Hawkins
Polygram Records
Original recording 1957
Art Farmer
Modern Art
Blue Note Records
Original recording 1958
Getting Started
This section suggests definitive or otherwise significant recordings that will help jazz students get acquainted with “Like Someone in Love.” These recordings have been selected from the Jazz History and CD Recommendations sections.

Chet Baker’s live 1956 recording of “Like Someone in Love” (Chet Baker Sings) is a classic example of Baker’s vocals and a fabulous place to begin learning the song. John Coltrane’s lyrical 1957 recording with a piano-less trio (Lush Life) is perhaps the best-loved modern instrumental interpretation. Among the numerous hard-swinging versions of the song, Art Blakey’s 1960 version with Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter (Like Someone In Love) is a standout.

Noah Baerman - Jazz Pianist and Educator

CD Recommendations for This Tune
Click on any CD for more details at Amazon.com
Chet Baker
Chet Baker Sings
Blue Note Records

Recorded live in Los Angeles, Baker offers a tender, straightforward vocal ballad interpretation of “Like Someone in Love.” Russ Freeman’s elegant piano accompaniment offers the perfect backdrop.

Sarah Vaughan
After Hours at the London House (Dig)
Original Recording 1958

Vaughan is assertively swinging and sly in singing “Like Someone in Love” on this live recording. The melodic tenor saxophone of Frank Wess is prominent as well.

Eric Dolphy Quintet with Booker Little
Eric Dolphy at the Five Spot, Vol. 2
Original recording 1961

This nearly twenty-minute tour de force begins as a melancholy ballad featuring Dolphy on flute and Booker Little on trumpet. Over time, it builds up steam, eventually reaching a hard-swinging groove, as pianist Mal Waldron and bassist Richard Davis are also featured.

Dexter Gordon
Our Man in Paris
Blue Note Records
Original recording 1963

While this track comes from a classic Dexter Gordon album, it is a trio feature for his rhythm section. Pianist Bud Powell recorded numerous versions of this song and this one is among the best of them as well as being a highlight of his later years.

Ben Webster & Joe Zawinul
Original recording 1963

This classic cross-generational collaboration puts tenor saxophone elder statesman Webster together with pianist Joe Zawinul, who would later become best known for his jazz-rock innovations. The groove is particularly hard-swinging, thanks in large part to bassist Richard Davis and drummer “Philly” Joe Jones.


- Noah Baerman

Etta Jones
Love Shout
1997 Original Jazz Classics 941
Original recording 1963
A great arrangement and the unobtrusive support of a small group allow Jones to bring her powerful vocals down a notch and deliver a quiet romantic reading.
Hilario Duran
Habana Nocturne
1999 Justin Time Records 125
Original recording 1999
Duran’s fingers (does he have more than ten?) fly across the piano keys at an inconceivable pace, injecting the standard with a heavy Latin influence and leaving the listener’s head spinning.
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
Like Someone in Love
2005 Blue Note 64470
Original recording 1960
Blakey and Co. swing into the title track with sophistication and poise. Trumpeter Lee Morgan and saxophonist Wayne Shorter exercise just the right amount of restraint, and the result is as poignant a reading as can be found, yet it swings mightily.
Jessica Williams
The Next Step
1994 Hep Records 2054

“Like Someone in Love” gets the full Williams treatment in this lively solo romp where the pianist takes the tune through rhythmic changes and adds some Monk-like punctuation and several playful quotes. This will bring a smile to your face.

- Ben Maycock

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

Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen

Year Rank Title
1944 60 It Could Happen to You
1940 79 Polka Dots and Moonbeams
1953 100 Here's That Rainy Day
1947 133 But Beautiful
1944 147 Like Someone in Love
1939 178 Imagination
1939 783 Oh You Crazy Moon
1942 907 Moonlight Becomes You

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