In 1911, thirteen years before he became Calvin Coolidge’s vice president, Charles G. Dawes wrote a catchy tune on his piano and named it “Melody in A Major.” Over 40 years later, Tommy Edwards would use Dawes’s composition for his #1 hit song “It’s All in the Game.”
Charles Dawes has an impressive resume, not the least of which was teaching himself to play the piano. One day in 1911, he couldn’t shake a melody that was stuck in his head, so he wrote it down and named it “Melody in A Major.” It became quite popular, which surprised Dawes, who was a banker at the time.
Forty years after Dawes set down “Melody in A Major,” songwriter Carl Sigman discovered it and matched it with new, emotional lyrics he’d written. The song “It’s All in the Game” was born, and Sigman recorded it with crooner Tommy Edwards. It reached No. 18 on the Billboard charts, but it was just the beginning of a legendary pop song.
Tommy Edwards’s second version, which featured a rock and roll arrangement and a soulful mood, hit big in 1958. Beginning in September, Edwards’s “It’s All in the Game” spent six weeks atop Billboard’s R&B Best Seller List. In November, it went to No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart. It was all over the radio.
Dawes, who died in 1951, wouldn’t live to hear his song go to number one, but he had plenty of other accomplishments to feel good about (aside from being Vice President). He served in World War I and brokered the Dawes Plan, which was meant to help restore Germany’s post-war economy. It was replaced by another, harsher plan years later, but Dawes shared a Nobel Peace Prize in 1925 for his efforts.
Thanks to “It’s All in the Game,” Dawes’s musical legacy lived on through covers by many legendary artists, including Louis Armstrong, Shirley Bassey, Art Garfunkel, Van Morrison, Barry Manilow, Nat King Cole, Merle Haggard and Elton John.