Tommy Edwards had a #18 hit with a pre-rock version of “It’s All in the Game” seven years before this rerecording topped the charts. The 1958 version makes a few concessions to rock ‘n’ roll, adding a thudding drumbeat and ”duh doo, duh doo” backing vocals. Still, these are minor enhancements, far from The Elegants‘ embrace of rock as a method of updating an old sound. Edwards acts as omniscient narrator, advising a young lady that while her lover may be casually (or callously) inconsiderate, she should be patient and a wedding ring would be her reward. It’s not that Edwards’s voice is without emotion, exactly, but it’s so smooth as to lack any texture to allow the listener a way in. It doesn’t help that the song was originally an instrumental called “Melody in A Major,” with the tacked-on lyrics at times scanning awkwardly (“ALL in the WON-der-FUL GAME”) or making no sense (“caress your waiting fingertips”). Given the proliferation of covers this song produced by artists I admire (Van Morrison, Jackie DeShannon, The Four Tops), I want to think that one more listen will reveal the hidden delights hiding in “It’s All in the Game.” But then I listen again, and it doesn’t. 4
- I don’t think I can write about this song and avoid mentioning its music trivia status as the only #1 pop single to be (co)written by a U.S. vice president. The aforementioned “Melody in A Major” was composed in 1911 by Charles Dawes, who served under Calvin Coolidge from 1925 to 1929. Which makes me wonder: are there any other charting pop songs (co)written by U.S. vice presidents? Heck, I’ll even expand it to U.S. presidents, speakers of the house, secretaries of state and justices on the Supreme Court.
Hit #1 on September 29, 1958; total of 6 weeks at #1
4 of 963 #1′s reviewed; 0.42% through the Hot 100