“That’s All” was written in 1952 by Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes. In addition to writing song lyrics, Brandt was a noted publicist who went on to write his first play at the age of 75. Haymes, the younger brother of singer/actor Dick Haymes, was also a singer and actor who became a radio and TV host. He often used the stage name of Robert Stanton.
Nat “King” Cole introduced the song in 1953, and although his was a popular version it did not make the top 20 songs that year. It was Bobby Darin’s 1959 album That’s All that put the song on the musical map. This was Darin’s first attempt to reach an adult audience, and he succeeded, winning Grammys for “Record of the Year” and “Best New Singer.” The album remained on the Billboard chart for 52 weeks where it rose to number seven. Dick Haymes, whose career peaked in the ‘40s, did not record the song until 1976, four years before his death.
Alec Wilder includes the song for special reasons in American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950even though it is outside the scope of his book. “First, it is one of the last free-flowing, native, and natural melodies in the grand pop style. Second, it has had a curious career insofar as it went through no initial hit phase but became an immediate standard.” Wilder first heard it sung by its composer Bob Haymes.
“It is verseless and of conventional A-A1-B-A form. The use of octave jumps in the release should produce monotony, there are so many of them. But, due to the mysteries of creation, they don’t. ...It’s one of the warmest, most natural, and least ‘studied’ songs I know.”
The appealing lyric is a favorite of singers for its expression of love offered on humble terms and in colorful imagery: “country walks in springtime” and “a hand to hold when leaves begin to fall.” The singer realizes that the loved one may have received proposals that promise more monetarily (“There are those, I am sure, who have told you, They would give you the world for a toy”) and that his/her offer may seem slight by comparison:
I can only give you love that lasts forever,
And the promise to be near each time you call,
And the only heart I own for you and you alone
That’s all, that’s all.
Vocalists who have recorded “That’s All” include Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Freddy Cole, Dee Dee Bridgewater (2000), both Steve Tyrell and Michael Buble in 2003, and pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias in 2004. Mel Torme used the song as the title cut of his 1964 album, and pop singer Rod Stewart included it in his 2002 tribute to the Great American Songbook.
Instrumentalists who recorded “That’s All” in the fifties include saxophonists Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, and Benny Webster; pianists Ahmad Jamal and Billy Taylor; guitarist Barney Kessel; trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and trombonist Bennie Green. In the nineties it was recorded by saxophonist Eric Alexander, organist Joey DeFrancesco, and pianist Kevin Hays.