Jazz Standards.com : Jazz Standards : Songs : History : Biographies
Home Overview Songs Biographies History Theory Search Bookstore About

If I Had You (1928)

Share your comments on this tune...

Origin and Chart Information
“Benny Goodman’s Sextet grabs the honors for the first jazz recording of this tune, and it’s an excellent version...”

- Chris Tyle

Rank 65
Words and Music James Campbell
Reginald Connelly
Ted Shapiro

Originally “If I Had You” was a British ballad popularized by Al Bowlly. Within weeks of the song’s release Rudy Vallee and His Connecticut Yankees brought it across the Atlantic. Both the Bowlly and the Vallee recordings made it onto the pop charts.

  • Al Bowlly (1929, with Fred Elizalde and His Orchestra, #12)
  • Rudy Vallee and His Connecticut Yankees (1929, #7)

More on Al Bowlly at JazzBiographies.com

More on Rudy Vallee at JazzBiographies.com

Among other 1929 recordings of “If I Had You” in the U.S. were,

  • The Original Wolverines
  • Al Starita and the Piccadilly Players
  • The Colonial Club Orchestra
  • Bert Ambrose and his Embassy Club Orchestra
  • Sam Lanin and His Orchestra (Bing Crosby, vocal)

And in France,

  • Ray Ventura and His Collegians.

Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

“If I Had You” composers, Brits James Campbell and Reginald Connelly, were lyricists who usually worked with other composers. They are best known today for Campbell and Connelly & Co. Ltd., the music-publishing house they founded in London in 1925. Now part of the international publishing conglomerate Music Sales, Campbell and Connelly boasts a catalog of over 75,000 individual song copyrights and musical shows. Their sheet music collection includes, of course, “If I Had You,” which proudly declares across its front cover, “The Prince of Wales’ Favorite Fox Trot.”

In addition to “If Had You,” the Campbell and Connelly team wrote “Goodnight, Sweetheart” (1931, Ray Noble, music) and “Try a Little Tenderness” (1933, Harry M. Woods, music).


More on James Campbell at JazzBiographies.com

More on Reginald Connelly at JazzBiographies.com

Ted Shapiro (1899-1980) is best known as Sophie Tucker’s accompanist and musical director from 1921 until her last performance in 1963.


More on Ted Shapiro at JazzBiographies.com

More information on this tune...

Thomas S. Hischak
The Tin Pan Alley Song Encyclopedia
Greenwood Press
Hardcover: 552 pages

(Hischak summarizes the history of the song, discusses its style, and mentions performers and films in which it has appeared.)
See the Reading and Research links on this page for additional references.

- Jeremy Wilson

Recommendations for This Tune
Click on any CD for more details at Amazon.com
Red Norvo
Modern Red Norvo
Savoy Jazz 17113
Original recording 1950
This trio, with Norvo on vibraphone, Tal Farlow on guitar and Charles Mingus on bass, would prove to be tremendously influential. Their tight, modern sound is well represented on two takes of “If I Had You.” (Note: The CD contains the tracks but they are not listed in the Amazon samples.)
Art Blakey
A Night at Birdland, Vol. 2
Blue Note Records 46520
(Original recording, 1954)
Alto saxophonist Donaldson lays down some crisp and shiny tones over the delicate piano of Horace Silver on this live, blues-tinged version of the ballad.
Etta Jones
Don't Go to Strangers
1991 Original Jazz Classics 298
Original recording 1960
This album was a commercial breakthrough for Jones, and her tender interpretation of "If I Had You"' is a highlight. Guitarist Skeeter Best and pianist Richard Wyands, two wonderful and underrated musicians, add a layer of class to the proceedings.
Milt Jackson and Oscar Peterson
Two of the Few
1992 Pablo 689
Original recording 1983
Vibraphonist Jackson and pianist Peterson had a long history of fruitful collaboration, but this session was the only instance in which they recorded as a duo. Their lyrical and soulful take on "If I Had You"' takes full advantage of the intimacy of the duo format.

- Noah Baerman

Joe Williams, Robert Farnon Orchestra
Here's to Life

A 75-year-old Joe Williams boasts eternal youth on this sentimental interpretation of the song. Williams' vocals are as sophisticated and warm as ever on top of the lush arrangement by Robert Farnon.
Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Johnny Griffin
Battle Stations

Davis and Griffin were a formidable, high energy two-tenor team. Much of their work is up-tempo and competitive, but this swinging performance comes off more as a team effort than a "battle."'
Lennie Tristano
Lennie Tristano/The New Lennie Tristano
1994, Rhino 71595
Original recording, 1955, Atlantic
Pianist Tristano has served as guru to many musicians. This CD combines two accessible LP's featuring him solo, trio, and in a quartet with Gene Ramey (b), Art Taylor (d), and altoist Lee Konitz, who sets the pace with his opening solo on "If I Had You."'
Diana Krall
All for You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio
Grp Records

Krall leaves the piano playing to Benny Green and concentrates on a smoldering vocal delivery. Her sultry crooning amplifies the yearning within the lyric.
Charlie Ventura
2002, Melodie Jazz Classic 1215

Passionate and adventurous, saxophonist Ventura's solo is layer upon layer of rich tones on this infectious reading of "If I Had You."'

- Ben Maycock

Copyright 2005-2015 - JazzStandards.com - All Rights Reserved      Permission & contact information

Home | Overview | Songs | Biographies | History | Theory | Search | Bookstore | About