Etta James passed away today at the age of 73 from complications in her battle with leukemia. The legendary soul singer will probably be best remembered for her timeless classic “At Last.” The song is easily one of the top three most popular wedding songs, and holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts. But what most people will remember James for is her contribution to a myriad of movie soundtracks. The use of “At Last” in film over the past few decades has made the song transcend into something much more than a tune played at wedding receptions.
Its most memorable use, in my personal opinion, was in the 1988 Best Picture winner, “Rain Man.” While “At Last” is nearly always used in a romantic dance scene, director Barry Levinson makes it a symbol of brotherly love. Tom Cruise teaches his severely autistic adult brother Dustin Hoffman to dance in a Las Vegas suite overlooking the strip while Etta James’ classic rings out from the radio. It’s a touching scene, for a moving song.
Rest in peace Ms. James.