I (Who have nothing)

For today’s Video Showcase two of the greatest live versions of I (Who Have Nothing) from the 1980 Amsterdam concert and the 1987 Berlin concert. Also some newspaper articles (from the George Webb collection) plus the sheet music.

I (Who Have Nothing)
Music written by Carlo Donida. English lyrics by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller

recorded: September 6, 1963
UK: September, 1963 on Columbia single DB 7113
US: March 10, 1964 on United Artists single UA 699
charted: single UK: #6, September 26, 1963

Released on a single in 1963. With this song Shirley Bassey reached position number six in the UK single charts and stayed in the charts for 20 weeks.

Originally this was the Italian song “Uno Dei Tanti” by Donida / Mogul and J. Leiber and M. Stoller then wrote the English lyric to it. Since the 1960s to this day Shirley Bassey sings this song on almost every live concert and therefore it is available on many collections and live recordings and videos.

It has also been recorded together with the London Symphony Orchestra on the album I Am What I Am. This recording has the wonderful long finale with the solo trumpet that you’ll hear at the live concerts too, but this is not on the original recording.

Another orchestral arrangement that I like very much is that from the 1989 album La Mujer where Shirley Bassey sings this song in Spanish: Hoy No Tengo Nada.

In 1972 a new English studio recording was released on an extremely scarce DJ-only promo record, but this recording has never been officially released.

Other artists that have performed this song and have reached US Billboard chart positions have been Ben E. King who has reached position number 29 1963. And Tom Jones climbed to No. 14 in the charts 1970. And 1979 Sylvester (James) reached No. 40 in the charts with this song. In a concert in The Netherlands in 1980 Shirley Bassey said before singing “I (Who Have Nothing)”: “This is an ideal moment to sing a song Tom Jones stole from me. Well, I gave it to him… I couldn’t resist.”

For a decade, from the mid-’50s to the mid-’60s, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were the most successful song writing team in popular music, writing hits for groups like the Coasters and the Drifters and giving Elvis Presley some of his best material. The songs included for example “Love Potion #9,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Spanish Harlem,” and “Stand By Me.” A Broadway musical revue called “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” opened 1995 and it contains 38 of the songs of Leiber / Stoller, including “I (Who Have Nothing)”. Premiere of the musical has been on Thursday, March 2nd, 1995 at the Virginia Theatre in New York.

Below you can listen to an alternative recording of I (Who Have Nothing) from 1966. It was issued on an LP that was never released and for DJ’s use only. It would have been released on a CD 10 years ago when a CD box was to be released for Dame Shirley’s 75th. birthday. A box containing superb, unreleased and remastered recordings plus a concert from 1973 at the Royal Albert Hall.