Doing a song called ‘All of Me’ last week just means that we have to do the ‘real’ All of Me this week. This is from 1931 and has been performed by all the jazz greats over the years.
On the uke, it’ll give your fingers a work out, and your jazz chords a stretch. I’ve done an easy chord chart and a ‘proper’ one. The easy chords follow our emergency chord rule: If you’re faced with a ‘jazz’ chord (i.e. with numbers) that you don’t recognise, just strip away the numbers until you get to a chord you do know. e.g. C6 -> C, A9 -> A7 -> A, Dm7 -> Dm, Fm6 -> Fm, Bbmaj13#5b9 -> Bb. The only rule is, you can’t change the fundamental major/minor nature of the chord (don’t let me catch you playing Am instead of A9!)
Following this rule will allow you to play otherwise pretty daunting songs – of course it won’t sound quite as authentic / cool / fancy but it can get you through a song that would otherwise be impossible…
The ‘proper’ chords are played using voicings designed to allow you to play with all strings fretted, giving a much better control over the length that the strings ring on for, and allowing us to do a nice tight staccato quarter note rhythm without too much effort – they’re also meant to be easyish to move between – I use my thumb around the back of the neck and on to the g-string when doing these chords.
One of the latest songs to be called ‘All of Me’ (there are many) I think happens to be an unusually well-written sentimental ballad written by John Legend for his wife-to-be, which took the charts by storm in 2014. Unusually for top-ten hits, it’s a very sparse arrangement consisting solely of Mr Legend’s (nice stage name) voice and piano, and some lyrics broadcasting his love for his fiancee. I didn’t really want to like it, but its simplicity, strong melody, and unusually faithful / monogamous lyrics sucked me in in the end, so here it is for the ukulele.
It starts off with a chord progression that forms the backbone of at least 40+ massive super hits, good start – (vi, IV, I V) in this key Em, C, G, D but then actually does change chord sequence and pattern twice more. The pre-chorus uses Am, G, D then the chorus uses G, Em, Am, C, D – it’s a pleasant run around the chords of G major (in the original it’s actually a semi-tone higher in Ab major) without once straying to any borrowed chords from another key – proof that you don’t have to be a master of music theory, or even ‘know all the chords’, to write or play a hit.
I’ve tried to borrow as much as I can from the piano part for this arrangement, although of course you can get by simply playing the chords. The interlude finger-picking pattern has some difficult rhythms in, to try to match the tasteful sparse piano notes in the original – not sure if I’ve quite succeeded…