Song of the Day #4,508: ‘If I Ain’t Got You’ – Alicia Keys

I never really got into Alicia Keys when she was making a big splash in the 2000’s. While I appreciated her singer-songwriter chops and her use of classical piano in an modern soul setting, ultimately she just wasn’t making the kind of music I like. R&B has always been one of my blind spots.

I’ve come to appreciate Keys more in recent years thanks to her charming work as host of the Grammys. She is so earnest, positive and full of love that it’s hard to remain cynical in the face of her infectious brightness.

That appreciation for the woman hasn’t translated to her music, however. I still haven’t listened to any of her seven studio albums apart from a little time spent with her first two releases when they came out.

It’s her sophomore effort, The Diary of Alicia Keys, that’s earned a spot in my look at the albums of 2003.

This follow-up to her 2001 smash Songs in A Minor, became a massive hit in its own right, selling more than 8 million copies worldwide and going 5X Platinum in the U.S.

If I were into this kind of music, I’d probably love The Diary of Alicia Keys. This is a well-crafted batch of songs. I can’t say it any better than a Slant Magazine article which praised the album for its “deft mix of modernism and classicism, not to mention street and class.”

Hip hop and R&B textures bumping up against classical piano runs is indeed a unique and attention-grabbing alchemy.

‘If I Ain’t Got You,’ one of Keys’ biggest hits, remains the standout track. Keys says she was inspired to write the track by the death of Aaliyah in 2001.

[Verse 1]
Some people live for the fortune
Some people live just for the fame
Some people live for the power, yeah
Some people live just to play the game
Some people think
That the physical things
Define what’s within
And I’ve been there before
And that life’s a bore
So full of the superficial

[Chorus]
Some people want it all
But I don’t want nothing at all
If it ain’t you, baby
If I ain’t got you, baby
Some people want diamond rings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain’t got you, yeah

[Verse 2]
Some people search for a fountain
That promises forever young
Some people need three dozen roses
And that’s the only way to prove you love them
Hand me the world on a silver platter
And what good would it be
With no one to share
With no one who truly cares for me

[Chorus]
Some people want it all
But I don’t want nothing at all
If it ain’t you, baby
If I ain’t got you, baby
Some people want diamond rings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain’t got you, you, you
Some people want it all
But I don’t want nothing at all
If it ain’t you, baby
If I ain’t got you, baby
Some people want diamond rings
Some just want everything
But everything means nothing
If I ain’t got you, yeah

[Outro]
If I ain’t got you with me, baby, oh, ooh
Said nothing in this whole wide world don’t mean a thing
If I ain’t got you with me, baby

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,508: ‘If I Ain’t Got You’ – Alicia Keys

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I have similar feelings about Alicia Keys. I appreciate her considerable talent and her personality, but have never gotten into her music all that much. It could be a general ambivalence to R&B or perhaps it just goes back to what I have so often said in the past – I tend to gravitate toward less smooth, more gritty singers and songwriters.

  2. andrea katz says:

    Her CD’s were on constant repetition in my car. Love her voice, piano, soulfulness. Well, to each his own. (Not everyone can have good taste. Lol!) I kid, I kid…

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