the song
title : All or nothing
written by : Eddi Reader
song copyright : © 1991 MCA Music Ltd

the performance
musicians
Eddi Reader vocal, backing vocals, concertina
Neill MacColl guitar
Phil Steriopulos double bass
Roy Dodds drums, percussion
with :
Jools Holland Hammond organ
Calum MacColl penny whistle
music
key : F major
time-signature : 6/8
tempo : MM 77
form : i v VR VR M ½v VR N
lyrics

provided for research and private study only (see above for copyright details):

All or nothing

– penny whistle solo
aye-yah

I whistled a tune called ‘lazy’ and I tiptoed a very tight line
all of the time walking backwards, all of the time I was blind
and the only voice I was hearing was yours inside my head
saying “Get yourself back to the kitchen, girl, one true move and you’re dead”

but, I, I, I found out it’s all or nothing

and all of the time he fiddled, I danced to the dark of his breath
too lazy to crumble and jumble there, over and over he played
and the only sound I was hearing was the one inside my own mind
saying “Get yourself back to the kitchen sink, girl, you’ve blown it one more time”

ah, I, I, I found out it’s all or nothing at all

{yes it’s over, nothing lasted}
nothing’s changed, yes it’s over, still you breathe

– penny whistle solo
mm hi-yah, hi-yah
hi-yah, hah

I whistled a tune called ‘crazy’ and I tiptoed a very tight line
I faltered ever so slightly, all of the time I was blind
and the only voice I was hearing was the one inside my head
saying “Get yourself out of the kitchen, girl – fly to the moon instead”

? {hi-yah, hi-yah etc.}
I-ah, hi-yah… I found out, it’s all or nothing
I-ah, hi-yah… I found out, it’s all or nothing
yes, it’s all or nothing at all
hi-yah-ooh

fly me to the moon, let me roll among

nn-nn-nnn
all or… ah-la, ah-ha
hi-yah, hi-yah
fly me to the moon, let me roll among the stars
hi-yah, hi-yah     [now = higher, higher?]
hi-yah, hi-yah
oo-ee-oo

explanations
Thanks to the publication of this lyric in the booklet accompanying the Japanese compilation album Seventeen stories my doubts about the exact words in the second verse have now been resolved. However they have been replaced by a quibble about line four (in my layout) in verse one, where the printed version has ‘once you move’ where it sounds as if Eddi sings ‘one true move’. I have retained my transcribed version because, as well as making slightly more sense grammatically, the inversion of the usual ‘one false move’ fits in with the many cases of Eddi’s, and friends’, lyrics playing with such common phrases.

the recording
personnel
produced by : Eddi Reader and the Patron Saints of Imperfection
recorded by : Terry Medhurst at Helicon Mountain Studio, London
mixed by : Terry Medhurst? at Helicon Mountain Studio?
mastered by : ? at Townhouse?
technical
track timing : 4:52
song timing : m:ss
released on
single : All or nothing track 1
album : Mirmama track 3
album : Seventeen stories: the best of Eddi Reader   (comp.) track 3

commentary
Together with ‘That’s fair’ on the same album this song paints a bleak picture of the domestic aspects of a relationship. In expressing this here, Eddi has come up with some very clever twists of stock phrases (“one true move and you’re dead”, if that is indeed what she sings – see the lyric’s explanation above) and counterpoised views (your voice vs my voice).

The inclusion of the phrase “fly to the moon” in verse three, prompting reference to “fly me to the moon” in the playout, provides an opportunity to include the song “Fly me to the moon” (Howard) in live performances. This has led Eddi to include other songs similarly from time to time; for example the “hands that do dishes” advertising jingle in London, August 1997!

A super-subtle link between the music and the lyric is the inclusion of a tin-whistle solo before verse mentioning “I whistled a tune called ‘Crazy’ ”
Adrian Dover