So many love songs — particularly those penned during the Tin Pan Alley days — put love, and lovers, on a pedestal: all sweetness, light and perfection. But ain’t nobody perfect. And if we’re lucky, we find somebody who loves us and can’t live without us, in spite of our faults.
That’s what makes Gus Khan’s words so refreshing in the 1924 song “It Had to Be You.” Here is someone who is absolutely smitten in spite of the significant other’s bossy and cranky nature. Married to Isham Jones’ tune, with its surprising and sultry half-tone shift on the second mention of “you,” the lyrics have been crooned by everyone from Marion Harris to Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall. By the time Betty Hutton recorded “It Had to Be You” for the 1944 film Incendiary Blonde, it was fully entrenched as a standard, a romantic — and realistic — addition to the Great American Songbook.