76. ‘It’s All in the Game’, by Tommy Edwards

If the previous two chart toppers have been ‘clickety-clacking’ and ‘rollicking’ respectively, then this next one is… not. Sorry. ‘It’s All in the Game’, by Tommy Edwards, is merely ‘sedate’ and ‘swaying’.


It’s All in the Game, by Tommy Edwards (his 1st and only #1)

3 weeks, from 7th – 28th November 1958

Many a tear has to fall, But it’s all, In the game… All in the wonderful game, That we know, As love… This is a song about arguments, and how having them is part of being in love. About how a guy not calling you back is just a tactical move, a rook to bishop four. A song about not sweating it – ’cause it’ll all turn out right in the end. And you believe Tommy, you really do. He’s got a voice you’d trust.

You have words, With him, And your future’s looking dim… But these things, Your hearts can rise above… Pretty soon, according to Tommy, you’ll be back kissing and a-cuddling. In a way, it’s a very old fashioned song – counselling a woman to put up with a man’s vagaries and inconsistencies. Especially given that it’s a man singing it. You might get away with it in 2018 if it was a woman dishing out sage advice to her girlfriends; a sort of ‘Independent Woman’ type of song. (Though that was nearly twenty years ago and I think the underlying message of that song was that Beyoncé and co. weren’t taking no more shit).

Tommy Edwards, though, manages not to come across as patronising. He simply comes across as very, very smooth: a sort of omniscient father figure looking down at the trials and tribulations of couples in love. And it is, at least, an interesting angle to come from. We’ve had a few super-basic love songs topping the chart recently – ‘Diana’, ‘All I Have to Do Is Dream’, ‘When’ – and it’s good to get a little cerebral every once in a while.

Then he’ll kiss, Your lips… And caress your waiting finger tips… And your hearts, Will fly, Away… If pressed, I’d have to add one more adjective to those that I used at the start of this post: ‘classy’. This is a classy song; the sort of song that George Clooney puts on as he pours a glass of wine for his date. I’m not sure if it’s a rock ‘n’ roll record, or a swing record, or just a plain old easy-listening disc. Edwards certainly croons the arse off it. Maybe it’s another of those new, hybrid songs – the fusion of rock and pre-rock that I mentioned back in my post on the Everly Brothers.


‘It’s All in the Game’ is one of the (slowly dwindling) number of #1 hits that I’d never heard before. Though perhaps I should have as alongside this there have been Top 5 charting version by Cliff and by The Four Tops, as well as a highly respected version by Van Morrison. But somehow these had all passed me by.

What also almost passed me by is the fact that Tommy Edwards was black. Which makes him *drum roll please* only the second black male soloist to top the UK Singles Chart. Edwards would only go on to have one more, minor hit on these shores before dying in 1979, aged but fifty-seven.

One other fascinating little tit-bit before I go… The lyrics to ‘It’s All in the Game’ were written in 1951 but the melody was composed way back in 1911 by a Mr. Charles G. Dawes, who would go on to serve as Vice-President of the United States of America. Thus, when you press play on the video link below, you will be listening to the only #1 single to have been co-written by a US Vice-President. That is some Grade A trivia right there, people. Over, and out.


10 thoughts on “76. ‘It’s All in the Game’, by Tommy Edwards

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  5. If you thought this record was a little old-fashioned, you would be right as Tommy Edwards recorded It’s All In The Game with the same backing orchestra of Leroy Holmes in 1951. Like all Tommy Edwards hits, it was not a major success, peaking at no.18 (in the USA) and because he had released 30 singles, all big-band orchestral style songs only 7 of which even reached the top 100, MGM Records were about to cancel his contract, but with one session remaining, they had the idea of re-recording It’s All In The Game in a late 1950s style with a touch of doo-wop swing but maintaining Edwards honeyed voice. This time it worked.

    • Interesting to hear the difference between the versions, and how much rock and roll had changed popular music in seven years or so…

      Contender for the ‘oldest’ number one, considering the words were written in 51 and the melody back in the Edwardian era?

  6. A contender for one of the oldest, but certainly not the winner. Putting On The Style dates back to 1870 and Cumberland Gap was an Appalachian folk song from the 18th century.

    I don’t know if you want to count Lily Of Laguna from 1898 and Nellie Dean from 1905 (parts of Let’s Have Another Party by Winifred Atwell.

    • Good shout. There’s also Elvis’s two Italian operetta inspired number ones, both of which are 1800s I’m sure.

      And I remember writing about one #1 whose lyrics originated in the 1700s. I think it might have been I See the Moon…

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