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I'm Confessin' That I Love You (1930)

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Origin and Chart Information
Tenor saxophonist Lester Young was a fan of the tune, recording it several times over the span of his career.

- Chris Tyle

AKAI'm Confessin' (That I Love You)
Rank 258
Music Ellis Reynolds
Doc Daugherty
Lyrics Al J Neiburg

“I’m Confessin’ That I Love You” (also known as “Confessin’ (That I Love You),” “I’m Confessin’,” and “Confessin’”) was a collaboration in 1930 between composers Doc Daugherty (sometimes spelled Dougherty) and Ellis Reynolds and lyricist Al J. Neiburg. Daugherty was a bandleader and owner of the Club Hangover in San Francisco. Reynolds was the pianist in the band of George “Doc” Hyder based out of Philadelphia and New York. Neiburg contributed lyrics to two other popular standards: “It’s the Talk of the Town” and “Under a Blanket of Blue.”

Louis Armstrong helped to popularize “I’m Confessin’.” Although his rendition didn’t make the top twenty, several other versions charted:

  • Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians (1930, six weeks, peaking at #2 for one week)
  • Rudy Vallee and His Connecticut Yankees (1930, #4)
  • Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra (1937, #14, one of Hamp’s early hits)
  • Perry Como (1946, #12)
  • Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952, 11 weeks, peaking at #13 and featuring Paul’s multi-tracked guitar)

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

And in 1963 country singer Frank Ifield topped the charts in the United Kingdom for two weeks with his version called simply “Confessin’.”

While this is a gentle love song--“I’m confessin’ that I love you, Tell me, do you love me too?”--the singer expresses suspicion regarding the reciprocation of that love: “In your eyes I read such strange things, But your lips deny they’re true.” Obviously the supplicant is fearful of losing his (or her) loved one and ends by admitting that “All in life on you depends.”

Thelonious Monk put his peculiar stamp on the song in a mid-sixties solo version and Herb Ellis and Red Mitchell played it as a duet on their 1988 album. “I’m Confessin’” appeared on the soundtrack of The Josephine Baker Story in 1991 and was recorded throughout the ‘90s by pianists Bobby Enriquez, Kenny Barron, Bill Mays, and Nino Tempo; clarinetist Kenny Davern; vocalist Wesla Whitfield; guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli and John Pizzarelli, who also performed it on the soundtrack of the 2000 film Two Family House. Trumpeter Byron Stripling featured the song on his 2000 CD, pianist Jessica Williams recorded it as a solo in 1992 and with her trio in 2004, Tony Bennett and K.D. Lang sang it as a duet on their 2002 tribute to Louis Armstrong, and vocalist Lizz Wright recorded it in 2005.

- Sandra Burlingame

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Jazz History Notes

Louis Armstrong’s 1930s recording of this (with the Los Angeles-based band of Les Hite) is a prime example of Armstrong at his early best, on both trumpet and vocal. Young Lionel Hampton is on drums; six years later he would record the tune again, on vibes, as an esteemed member of Benny Goodman’s sextet.

Cornetist William “Wild Bill” Davison fell under the sway of Armstrong yet developed a unique, growling sound. Firmly entrenched in the Chicago style promulgated by guitarist Eddie Condon, his acerbic style graced many a record date. Paired with clarinetist Edmond Hall and a Condon contingent on a 1945 date, Bill alternately caresses and fiercely attacks “Confessin’.”

Tenor saxophonist Lester Young was a fan of the tune, recording it several times over the span of his career. Two are standouts: his first, for the indie label Aladdin in 1947, and for Verve in 1952, backed by the Oscar Peterson Trio.

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian

Louis Armstrong
The Essential Louis Armstrong

Benny Goodman
The Benny Goodman Sextet Featuring Charlie Christian: 1939-1941
Original recording 1940
Wild Bill Davison
Commodore Master Takes
Grp Records
Original recording 1944
Lester Young
Complete Aladdin Recordings
Blue Note Records
Original Recording 1946
Oscar Peterson
Complete 1952 Verve Studio Sessions With Lester Young
Definitive 11235

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

Doc Daugherty, Al J Neiburg and Ellis Reynolds

Year Rank Title
1930 258 I'm Confessin' That I Love You

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