If the narrator in Isham Jones and Gus Kahn's enduring ballad was looking for the perfect woman, he may never have found "the one." He acknowledges that his lover can be mean and bossy at times, but he loves her despite her faults.
Jones and Kahn wrote the tune in 1924, shortly after Jones' wife bought him a baby grand piano for his 30th birthday and he stayed up all night noodling around until he came up with a few melodies, one of them being "It Had To Be You." Kahn added the lyrics, and the song quickly became a hot number that year with covers from Marion Harris, Paul Whiteman, and Jones' own orchestra. In the coming decades, Ruth Etting, Dick Haymes & Helen Forrest, Betty Hutton, Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and Barbra Streisand, among others, recorded memorable renditions.
Jones and Kahn also wrote the popular songs "Swingin' Down The Lane," "I'll See You In My Dreams," and "The One I Love (Belongs To Somebody Else)."
Sinatra performed this with Tommy Dorsey's orchestra in the early 1940s before embarking on a solo career, but didn't include it on any of his albums until Trilogy: Past Present Future in 1980. This version, arranged by Billy May, was used in a pivotal scene near the end of the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally… when Harry is wandering New York City on New Year's Eve. Harry Connick Jr. covered the tune on the accompanying soundtrack, which earned him a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Male Vocal Performance.
Trilogy was made up of three different records that represented three different eras. Past was a collection of signature Sinatra standards arranged by Billy May; Present contained modern pop interpretations arranged by Don Costa, including "MacArthur Park," "Just The Way You Are," and a re-recording of the hit "New York, New York"; and Future, written and arranged by Gordon Jenkins, offered an experimental suite described as "A Musical Fantasy in Three Tenses for Frank Sinatra, Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, and Mixed Chorus." The latter section was widely panned, but Trilogy still landed a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year in 1981 (Christopher Cross' self-titled album won).
Harry Nilsson, of "Everybody's Talkin'" fame, included this on his 1973 album of standards, A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night. He added a quirky lyric about his mate being seven foot two.
This was featured in several other movies, including The Roaring Twenties (1939), Casablanca (1942), and the 1947 romantic comedy It Had to Be You (sung by the film's stars, Ginger Rogers and Cornel Wilde). Diane Keaton sang it in the 1977 Woody Allen film Annie Hall. Megan Cavanagh, who portrayed the homely ball player Marla Hooch in 1992's A League of their Own, drunkenly performed the song during a scene when the girls sneaked out to a bar.
Rod Stewart covered this for his 2002 album It Had To Be You: The Great American Songbook. Fans embraced the "Hot Legs" singer's foray into the vintage catalog, helmed by powerhouse producer Clive Davis, who launched the careers of Whitney Houston and Kelly Clarkson. Stewart went on to record three more albums of pop standards, all peaking in the Top 10.
Tony Bennett recorded this with Carrie Underwood for the 2011 album Duets II. This version was used on the CBS crime drama Blue Bloods in the 2011 episode "Mercy."
This was used on several TV shows, including Gilligan's Island (sung by Tina Louise), Who's the Boss? (sung by Alyssa Milano), Melrose Place (sung by Ray Charles), Caroline In The City (sung by Amy Pietz), Arrested Development (sung by Bobby Darin), Doctor Who (sung by Kate Harvey), and Grey's Anatomy.