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If I Had You (1928)

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)


Al Bowlly was born in Mozambique and raised in South Africa where he began his career singing and playing (more...)


Rudy Vallee, best known as a popular crooner in the ‘30s, started his career on saxophone. He played drums in (more...)

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).


James Campbell is best known for his partnership with Reginald Connelly and their music publishing house, Campbell (more...)


Reginald Connelly is best known for his partnership with James Campbell and their music publishing house, Campbell (more...)

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


Ted Shapiro is best known as the pianist and musical director for Sophie Tucker. His association with Tucker (more...)

Music and Lyrics Analysis

“If I Had You” was written with a 32-bar A1-A2-B-A2 form and the Campbell-Connelly lyrics describe all the things “I” could do “If I had you.” All three A sections lead off with the phrase, “I could” (e.g., “I could show the world how to smile”) and end with the four-note hook, “If I had you.”

In the B section (bridge) where one would expect a change in tone, coincident with the change in key, the lyrics merely mimic the A sections, commencing with “I could” and ending with the slight variation, “If I had you by my side.” The repetition combined with an optimistic message provides a pleasant, if not routine, driving feeling.

One might wonder how much Campbell and Connelly borrowed from Irving Berlin’s “If I Had You” (1914), one of many songs that share the same name. There are a few similarities including, “All that I want is a chance to be glad” compared with the Campbell / Connelly “I could be glad all of the while.” But Berlin’s lyric takes a distinctly different approach, stating the desire for romance over wealth and providing emotional counterpoints along the way, including “I’ve grown so tired of being so sad,” and a series of negative statements in the verse, such as “I never envied those rich millionaires.” -JW

Musical analysis of “If I Had You”

Original Key Bb major; false key change to D minor in section “B”
Form A1 – A2 – B – A2
Tonality Major throughout section “A”; minor throughout section “B”
Movement “A” consists of chromatic upward runs, followed by upward leaps and short chromatic falls. “B” has neighbor-note movement with downward skips.

Comments     (assumed background)

Initial harmonic progression similar to “Cherokee” (I – v7 – I7 – IV – iv), except that this song does a I – iii – VI7 – ii (substituting a biii for VI7) turnaround on the first ending. Section “B” is simply a i – ii7(b5) – V7 in D minor (the 3rd scale degree of the initial tonic) repeated three times before returning to V7 of the tonic via a circle of fifths.
K. J. McElrath - Musicologist for JazzStandards.com

Check out K. J. McElrath's book of Jazz Standards Guide Tone Lines at his web site (www.bardicle.com).
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Soundtrack Information
If I Had You” was included in these films:
  • The Clock aka Under the Clock (1945, Judy Garland)
  • Thrill of a Romance (1945, Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra)
  • You Were Meant for Me (1948, Dan Dailey)
  • The Silencers (1966, Dean Martin)
  • Hannah and Her Sisters (1986, Roy Eldridge)
  • Everyone Says I Love You (1996, Tim Roth, Dick Hyman, The New York Studio Players)
  • Eyes Wide Shut (1999, Roy Gerson)
  • What Women Want (2000, Nnenna Freelon)
  • Two Weeks Notice (2002, Dick Hyman)
And on stage:
  • Minnelli on Minnelli (1999, Liza Minnelli) Broadway special
And on television:
  • Jeeves and Wooster (1990) Granada TV comedy series
Also on This Page...

Music & Lyrics Analysis
Musician's Comments

Jazz History Notes
Also by the Same Writers...
Reading & Research

CD Recommendations for This Tune
Click on a CD for more details at Amazon.com
Diana Krall

All For You
1996, Impulse! 182
Krall leaves the piano playing to Benny Green and concentrates on a smoldering vocal delivery. Her sultry crooning amplifies the yearning within the lyric.

Art Blakey Quintet

A Night at Birdland Vol.2
2001, Blue Note
(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.

Joe Williams

Here’s to Life
1994 Telarc 83357
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.

Charlie Ventura

2002, Melodie Jazz Classic 1215
Passionate and adventurous, saxophonist Ventura’s solo is layer upon layer of rich tones on this infectious bop reading of “If I Had You.”

Lenny Tristano

Lenny Tristano/The New Lenny Tristano
1994, Rhino 71595
Original recording, 1962, 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.”
Jazz History Notes

Benny Goodman’s Sextet grabs the honors for the first jazz recording of this tune, and it’s an excellent version, featuring clarinetist Goodman, trombonist Lou McGarity and pianist Mel Powell, recorded in 1941.

Three years later Cab Calloway’s tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec brought several of his band mates into the studio for a date at Blue Note. “If I Had You” was a feature for his Coleman Hawkins-ish style of playing, and his version is memorable. Quebec later become the artist-and-repertoire representative for Blue Note, and among his finds was another great tenor player, Dexter Gordon.

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian

Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman Small Groups, 1941-1945
Sony 44437

Ike Quebec

Ike Quebec, 1944-1945
Classics 957
Written by the Same Composer or Team...
This section shows the jazz standards written by the same writing team. Click on a name to see all of a writer's jazz standards.

James Campbell, Reginald Connelly and Ted Shapiro

192865If I Had You
Reading and Research

Additional information on “If I Had You” may be found in:

1 paragraph including the following types of information: history and performers.

1 paragraph including the following types of information: film productions, history, performers and style discussion.

Includes the following types of information: song lyrics.

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