Definitive Collection (1997)
When I was young
I never needed anyone
And making love was just for fun
Those days are gone
I think of all the friends I’ve known
But when I dial the telephone
All by myself
Don’t wanna be
All by myself
Hard to be sure
Sometimes I feel so insecure
And love’s so distant and obscure
Remains the cure
Carmen: „The song started with the solo. It started 4 bars at a time. Eventually, over a period of 2 months, that entire interlude had been written. Then my quest was to put this in the middle of an actual song. Then it was a matter of trying to figure out what kind of song and how could I do it. I was listening to Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto (written in 1901) and I heard the melody which I used for the verse. Then I needed a chorus. I went back and listened to a song that I had written in 1973 called ‚Let’s Pretend‘ for the Raspberries. I just took those notes and took it from there. I thought, “Let’s Pretend‘ was a nice melody.‘ The song didn’t go quite as far as I thought it should have. I’ll go back and steal from myself for this.“
Carmen used the same notes from „Let’s Pretend“ to open his song „The Way We Used To Be.“
Carmen: „There’s not nearly as much fuel in being happy as there is in being miserable. Being miserable is a great catalyst for songwriting, for me anyway. I’m constantly amazed at the amount of wonderful work that Mozart did during periods when he was fairly happy. His music during those periods reflects the happiness. On the other hand, I can’t imagine that Rachmaninoff was happy when he was writing the 2nd symphony and 2nd piano concerto. I don’t think the anguish and angst of those melodies comes out of being peachy keen.“
When he wrote this, Carmen thought the Rachmaninoff music was in the public domain, meaning he could use it free of charge. After this song came out, he found out it wasn’t and agreed to a settlement with the Rachmaninoff estate.
Carmen: „If you walked in a record store and saw „All By Myself“ on the record label, you’d know what the song was about, and it’s an emotion that everyone has felt at some point in their life. Therefore, it’s a song that goes immediately to your heart. The lyrics are as simple as I could possibly make them. Sometimes my melodies are so dramatic that if the lyric is that dramatic, it’s overkill.“
Carmen: „The edited version was still about 4:22 so I know the song probably had to be edited. The only problem was that there really was no place to edit because it changed keys 4 different times within that piano interlude. Jimmy Ienner, the producer, and I had struggled trying to figure out how we could possibly do an edit.
Celine Dion covered this in 1996. Her version hit #4 in the US and #6 in the UK.
„There are roughly three New York’s. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.“
— E.B. White (Here is New York)
My last visit to New York „all by myself“, when I stood at night on top of the WTC-Tower, was long before 9/11 in 1976. One hour later in a yellow-cab, on the street, there I listen to the car radio, and heard the Song and Eric Carmen, for the first time. Carmen hit my feelings on the spot. Years went by, I never forgot that song. So 2001, I felt I had to see New York again, but urgent work kept me home and so I had to cancell the flight one week before that tragic day. I have been struggling to make a page for this city. The memories for me, that should be so wonderful, are so tangled up with emotions (I lived at 36th Street with an funny olderly man) that I am not finding the right words. Maybe writing those down one day, will help. I loved New York. Having had two visits there, 1976 and 77 I saw many of the usual attractions. I also was determined to do a sort of „pilgrimage“ to places that had special meaning to me. And I did just that.
|I am not going to even attempt to write any history. Everyone on the planet knows about New York. It has been written about, sung about, filmed. It has become home to millions of immigrants seeking a better life. MembersOf my family to. They all became wealthy peoples. Not my branch of the family back in Hamburg.
It has given opportunity to those of my family who worked hard- and so many have succeeded. Take one look at the Guggenheim Museum. There is just one example of an immigrant family who „made it“ in New York. And the Guggenheim family made it BIG TIME. They were just one of the many families who proved that it could be done. New York also has those that fell through the cracks. So many people have dreams that stay just that- dreams.
New York is more than a city. It really is a feeling. The first time I stood on a corner of 5th Avenue I was totally overwhelmed. Despite all the familiar (from movies and docus) buildings and landmarks, it felt like I was on another planet. It was fantastic. Yellow cabs at rush hour. The masses of people trudging along the pavements, the sirens. That is the most „New York sound“ that I recall. That and the sound of steam hissing from the manholes in the streets. And still – yes, that special feeling, to be „all by myself“.