The Story of... 'All By Myself' by Eric Carmen

12 March 2024, 10:57

Eric Carmen in 1975
Eric Carmen in 1975. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

If there's one song that captures the essence of solitude and longing, it's Eric Carmen's 'All By Myself'.

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Eric Carmen’s 'All By Myself' is an emotional voyage that resonates with hearts across generations.

Released in December 1975 as the lead single from Carmen’s debut self-titled album, this ballad weaves together vulnerability and strength.

'All By Myself' has etched itself into cultural memory. It graced an iconic scene of Bridget Jones’s Diary, and later Celine Dion would lend her voice to a stunning cover version.

But who wrote it and what inspired the heartbreaking love song?

  1. Who wrote All By Myself?

    Eric Carmen - All By MySelf (HQ)

    'All By Myself' was written by Eric Carmen.

    Released in December 1975 as the first single from Carmen’s debut album, its opening notes were borrowed from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s 'Piano Concerto No. 2'.

    Interestingly, the chorus of 'All By Myself' was taken from another song - 'Let’s Pretend', which Carmen wrote and recorded with the Raspberries in 1972.

  2. What inspired the song?

    Sergei Rachmaninoff, who died in 1943, 32 years before 'All By Myself'
    Sergei Rachmaninoff, who died in 1943, 32 years before 'All By Myself'. Picture: Getty

    When he wrote the song, Carmen thought the Rachmaninoff piece was in the public domain, meaning he could use it free of charge.

    After the song came out, he found out it wasn't and agreed to a settlement with the Rachmaninoff estate.

    He later said: "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," he told Songfacts. "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.

    Let's Pretend - The Raspberries | The Midnight Special

    "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."

    In terms of any real-life moments that inspired the song, he said: "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 second symphony and second piano concerto.

    "I don't think the anguish and angst of those melodies comes out of being peachy keen."

  3. How did it perform in the charts?

    In the UK, Eric Carmen’s 'All By Myself' achieved a respectable position on the charts. It peaked at number 12.

    While it didn’t reach the same heights as in the United States, where it secured the #2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, the song still left its mark.

  4. Who covered it?

    Céline Dion - All By Myself (Official Remastered HD Video)

    'All By Myself' has been covered by a multitude of artists across different genres. Here are some notable cover versions:

    • Lyn Paul: Released her rendition on June 4, 1976.
    • Carmen McRae: Covered the song in July 1976.
    • Ray Conniff: Presented his version in 1976.
    • Shirley Bassey: Delivered her take on the song in 1982.
    • Céline Dion: Her powerful rendition, released on March 8, 1996, became a hit around the world.
  5. Where has the song appeared in film and TV?

    Bridget Jones's Diary | "All By Myself"

    The song has been used in the movie Clueless, where a version by Jewel plays as Cher (Alicia Silverstone) wanders around Beverly Hills and contemplates her love life.

    It was famously used in Bridget Jones's Diary when Bridget (Renee Zellweger) was alone and drunk on New Year's. This version was performed by country artist Jamie O'Neal.

    It also popped up in Friends, Glee, Scrubs, Dawn of the Dead and Shrek 2.