Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Today is the 15th of the month and that means another Battle of the Bands.  Other blogs featuring battles are Far Away Series, FERRET-FACED FASCIST FRIENDS, Tossing It Out, and DiscConnected.  I encourage you to visit their blog and cast your vote for your favorite.  You have a week to get over there and make your voice heard.

The song up for today is It Had To Be You.  I learned a lot about this song when I decided to bring it forth (thank you Wikipedia).  It was originally written in 1924 by Isham Jones, with lyrics by Gus Kahn.  That year nine different people recorded it.  The song was sung in the following films: Melody In May (1936), The Roaring Twenties (1939), Casablanca (1942), Incendiary Blonde (1945), I'll See You In My Dreams (1951), Annie Hall (1977), and A League of Their Own (1992).  Harry Connick, Jr. recorded it for the film When Harry Met Sally (1989).  However, it has been recorded by dozens of people including, but not limited to,  Doris Day, Ray Charles, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Don McLean, Kenny G, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, and, most recently, Michael Buble.

In other words, there is not a shortage of choice for this song.  I asked my mother who she remembered FIRST singing it and she said "Frank Sinatra."  I predicted that, but wasn't certain.  I suspect that the Sinatra version is what most of you are accustomed to hearing, even though it wasn't the first or last recording.  So, I am not putting it in the battle.  Let's listen instead to two very different recordings of this song.  You will note that one of them begins completely differently than the other.  For the record, I found several recordings that include this introduction.

First up for your consideration... Tony Bennett:

Next up for your consideration... Harry Connick, Jr.:

Cast your vote below in the comments along with all of the reasons why you chose who you did.  Due to a guest post appearing on the 22nd of this month, I will post the winner here on the 20th (one day early).  So, you have until Oct. 20 to get those votes in!!!


  1. Harry Connick's version is certainly well done, but for my tastes it's over-produced and to bouncy jazzy. I could picture someone like Steve Martin doing a SNL parody to this arrangement. I don't really like the intro on the Bennett version, but I think he does it more like it seems like it should be done--simple instrumentation and wistful vocal.

    Tony Bennett has my vote.

    Tossing It Out

  2. Tough choice, but I'm going with Tony Bennett, too.

  3. They are so close it's hard to decide. I'll go with Connick's version.

  4. I vote for Tony Bennett. There's more power to his voice.


  5. From the tinkling piano to the big band back up it's Harry Conick Jr, for me. IMO, Tony has slowed it down a tad too much.

  6. Well, bummer. I didn't really like either of them. The tempo on Bennent's version was way too slow but the vocals on Connick were just plain thin. I guess I'll abstain.

  7. I gotta go with the paisano....(that's Tony for youse wit no Italian blood)


  8. Hi Robin,

    I almost like Ruth Etting's version from the film "Melody in May" circa 1936. However, based on your two choices, must go with Tony Bennett who evidently misplaced his heart in San Francisco.

    Gary :)

  9. I had no idea that song was so old. I vote for Tony .

  10. I vote for H.C. Jr. I guess I'm just being nostalgic.

  11. Usually I like Tony Bennett, but the pace was just too slow on this song. Harry Connick Jr. has my vote. It's such a classic song that never goes out of style.


  12. ROBIN ~
    I was here yesterday and listened to both versions then. Did not have time to type out a comment then though, so I've returned now to cast my vote and say a few words.

    Here's the odd situation for me when it comes to this one: I like A LOT of what are considered to be the old "Standards" - how could I not when so many of them were covered by the Jazz greats? And I LOVE JAZZ above all other musical genres.

    However, 'It Had To Be You' is not one of my favorites amongst the "Standards". I suppose my favorite rendition of it would be Billie Holiday's.

    Also, I am not a big fan of "the crooners". The only two I really like consistently are Johnny Mathis and Bobby Darin. Otherwise, it's just certain songs here and there by Sinatra and the rest. And with "Ol' Blue Eyes", the ones I dig are usually not the ones that immediately come to the minds of most people when someone says "Frank Sinatra" (e.g., #1 is 'We'll Be Together Again' [for sentimental reasons], and then stuffs like 'Winchester Cathedral', 'It Was A Very Good Year', 'It Happened In Monterey' and 'One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)' - although Sinatra crooning 'Witchcraft' as a "singing sword" in the movie 'Roger Rabbit' is utterly CLASSIC!)

    I've always felt that Harry Connick Jr. was just a poor man's Sinatra and never understood how he managed to have a career while Sinatra's records were still available for purchasing.

    Tony Bennett I like even less. I have NEVER been able to "get" the appeal of Bennett. For one thing, he has often sounded "flat" to me. Maybe that's not the best word to describe it but, he's like monotone and just puts me to sleep. I've never even felt he had a particularly good voice as far as "tone" goes. Yep. I'm truly mystified by Tony Bennett's success.

    Between these two choices, put my vote down for Harry Connick Jr. please. At least there's some life to the number, even if he's just a Sinatra-wannabe.

    Speaking just for me, 'It Had To Be You': Frank Sinatra Vs. Billie Holiday (White Crooning Man Vs. Black Blues Woman) is probably a match-up I could have gotten more intrigued by. But the Connick version here is pretty decent, considering it's a song that doesn't do a whole lot for me to begin with.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. What made this battle so hard was so many people recording the same song. It was VERY DIFFICULT deciding who to pair against whom. I didn't want to use Frank because I really felt like it would be a landslide victory. However, maybe you are right... perhaps I should have matched him up with Billie Holiday. So hard to know what to do....

  13. ROBIN ~
    I was probably out of line even suggesting Frank Vs. Billie. I mean, it's YOUR 'BOTB' match-up, and you should go with whichever competition tickles your fancy or intrigues you most.

    My opinion is suspect right from the get-go anyway simply because it's not one of the Standards that really appeals to me.

    However, for me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the 'BOTB' concept is in frequently matching up very divergent styles (i.e., drastically different arrangements) and wildly different performers against each other. Another is in seeing how it all shakes out, which is very often quite different from what I am expecting at that moment when I push "Publish" on my post.

    For example, right now, Warren Zevon's original recording is beating Linda Ronstadt's Billboard 'Top 40' hit version by a safe margin on my current 'BOTB' match-up. I am genuinely surprised! I knew Zevon would not get skunked, but I expected Ronstadt to win by about the same margin Zevon is now beating her. ("Beating her"... Ha! Pun not intended, but it made me laugh when I realized my inadvertent funny.)

    There have been other big surprises for me... like, I thought The Rockets would easily beat Fleetwood Mac; I thought the Cheryl Barnes version of 'Easy To Be Hard' was going to ABSOLUTELY WIPE OUT - maybe even SHUT OUT - the Lynn Kellogg version from the Broadway soundtrack of 'Hair'. Barnes did win, but only because my own vote was the tie-breaker.

    So, for me, sometimes it's interesting just to go with an improbable match-up to see how right or wrong my expectations turn out to be.

    With 'It Had To Be You', maybe Frank wouldn't have won (or won nearly as convincingly as you thought he would). And since Harry Connick Jr. modeled himself and his career as sort of "the modern-day Frank Sinatra", maybe even a match-up between Frank's and Harry's versions would have been interesting.

    Anyway, the main thing is just to have fun with it. It seems the voter participation has dropped off a little bit for all of us, but I'm enjoying the 'BOTB' posts just as much as before.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Yeah, the votes always surprise me, too. I didn't like the Zevon version at all on your most recent bout (and I believe I said that pretty clearly in my comment), but he was winning when I posted my vote for Ronstadt.

      It's funny that you say that about Sinatra vs Connick, Jr... because that was the original pairing I had written down for this BOTB. Then after Arlee posed the question on his blog about the version we hear most tainting our view (and winning because we like it simply because we heard it first), it got me rethinking it. So, I ended up listening to MANY versions of the song. That only confused me more than I was when I started. ::sigh:: The one thing I knew I didn't want to do was post more than two songs for people to decide on. So, this one may have just spun away from me.

      All that said, I am still having fun with it and I don't regret posting the two recordings that I did. And this comment section invites your opinion so it wasn't "out of line" for you to suggest what you did. This is one of those songs that has been recorded many times. So many that someone else could do an entirely different bout with the same song if they so desire. However, given the fact that you aren't in love with it, I daresay that It Won't Be You. Hahahaha.

      Next bout I have a song in mind that I hope you will like better;) But not one from Your list. I don't want to hear about that in my comment section. Just kidding! Have you noticed that everyone has picked very different songs for these match-ups? I thought in the beginning that there might be TONS of crossover into the lists of others. Now I am not so sure about that....

  14. ROBIN ~
    >>... after Arlee posed the question on his blog about the version we hear most tainting our view (and winning because we like it simply because we heard it first), it got me rethinking it.

    Well, I think there is some truth to that, but it doesn't always hold true. For instance, in FAE's 'BOTB' this round, I voted for IZ over Judy Garland, and I'd never even heard of that dude before, let alone his version of Judy's 'Over The Rainbow'.

    And I'll never forget the time I bought a compact disc by a band I really like, and found them covering a 'Top Ten' Billboard hit by another band I also really like. I thought they were crazy to cover such a classic song - a song I totally loved. To my utter shock, the cover version appealed to me even more than the GREAT original version I had been hearing on Top 40 radio my entire life! (And I could tell of some other instances where a later cover seemed even better to me than the original that I had been hearing for decades and really liked a lot. So, we just don't know until we put 'em out there for people to vote on.)

    I'd say, follow your instincts and don't let my friend Arlee Bird influence ya.

    I'm looking forward to 'BOTB #8', when I will use a song very special to me, pitting two good versions of it against each other (I like 'em both). One by a Black 'Jazz' singer and the other by a White 'Country' singer. I'm thinking that the 'Country' singer might win, but it wouldn't surprise me if I am wrong by a huge margin. And that's what makes FAE's 'BOTB' concept so much fun for me.

    >>... The one thing I knew I didn't want to do was post more than two songs for people to decide on.

    I may do that again, but I wouldn't include more than 3 songs, and they would all have to be as dramatically different as my 3 versions of 'ROUTE 66' were for me to even consider it.

    >>... Have you noticed that everyone has picked very different songs for these match-ups? I thought in the beginning that there might be TONS of crossover into the lists of others. Now I am not so sure about that....

    YES! When Arlee Bird first Emailed me about joining FAE and I in our 'BOTB' contest, I told him he was welcome as far as I was concerned, "...but just don't steal my song!" He replied: "But how do we know?" I told him: "We don't."

    Then I assured him that the odds were astronomical that any of us would use the same song by any of the same artists on the same date. FAE did use my potential, future match-up of 'DESPERADO: The Eagles Vs. The Carpenters', but I have so many match-ups already written down that I will never get to all of them anyway.

    Heck, I'll even tell you right now that I am planning to use Christmas songs on December 1st and 15th, but even knowing that, should you decide to do the same, it's almost impossible that you and I would utilize the same songs/artists during that month.

    I like your 'BOTB' match-ups and am glad that you joined us. I'd say, just follow your initial instinct and it will always turn out well. How?,,, "I don't know. It's a mystery." (Tonight, I saw the movie 'Shakespeare In Love' for the first time. Good one... I dug it. So immediately I am quoting from it.)

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. I think Arlee might have a point, BUT I am going to agree with you about unexpected wins. I had a very difficult time choosing the winner on FAE's blog this time around. I really liked both versions. So, ultimately it could go either way. You are right about that... definitely. I think what might happen is that the outcome only shocks the person posting the battle. For instance, I expect one version to do significantly better or worse than the other and the results don't meet MY expectations.

      Shakespeare In Love. Good movie. I haven't seen it since it came out. Funny that you are already quoting from it:)

  15. It's a rare day when Harry Connick, Jr. does something I don't like. He is easily one of my top three faves, and though I like Tony Bennett, HC, Jr., has my vote here...though I am LATE again and can't technically vote. Grr, I'm going to have to put a bookmark...check Robin's blog every day... lol :) This was a great matchup.


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