... a chance to record Isham Jones' and Gus Kahn's iconic "It Had To Be You" (1924). It took a while, all the way into his sixties, but it was worth the wait.
But first we'll go back to the time when Sinatra's career was in pits. This terrific, tossed-off performance aired on The Frank Sinatra Show (a.k.a. Bulova Watch Time) around 1950. That was pre-Nelson Riddle, but the smooth balladeer was beginning to swing. I love this jazzy arrangement by (I think) George Siravo, and so does Frank, who breaks into a little soft shoe at the end:
But Sinatra only made one record of "It Had To Be You," and, as Mark Steyn writes, "he cut it mighty fine," waiting until 1979 to do so. Bob Belvedere comments that "The voice is burnt and sometimes it breaks roughly, but that ends up creating an added poignancy to this lovely performance." I agree:
Do not miss Mark's wonderful piece on this über-standard. He'd prefer Frank had skipped the verse, but not me. I've grown fond of it. I think it's sweet. And it gives a nice build-up to the song's gorgeous opening line. The Billy May arrangement comes close to perfection. Despite Sinatra's immense studio output, there are
songs he never got to. I'm grateful this isn't one of them.