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It Had to Be You... The Great American Songbook
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Product Description

Rod Stewart's mellowing years have neatly coincided with a commitment to smart ballad choices and a generally warmer musical persona. Rod the Mod liberated at last? Like many a pop singer, Stewart returns here to what's become generally known as the Great American Songbook, that evergreen body of mid-20th century songcraft that continues to inspire singers across oceans and generations. It's said that Stewart has been vocalizing many of these songs in private for years, and given the warm, human scale of most of the performances here, it's not hard to believe. Producer Phil Ramone's spare, unobtrusive arrangements inspire the singer to some of his most subtle and rewarding performances in years. Stewart's slightly weary vocal tack handsomely suggests the smoke, booze, and aching heart that lie at the best of these songs. Such back-to-the-future efforts can often sound like a last career gasp; here, they seem a refreshing breath of fresh air. --Jerry McCulley

Customer Reviews:

  • Wonderful update
    of all the oldies that I listened to from the time I was a wee one and still after all these years..Rod's rendition of these sentimental goodies are the bomb. I ordered all (3) albums, including #3 and it isn't even released, that's how stoked I am!!

    CAN'T WAIT TO GET THEM.......more info
  • Great American Song Book
    Well, the first disk in the set of four was a little dissapointing, not bad, just not "WOW". If I had heard that one first, I probably would not have bought the rest. BUT... I heard the third one first, and the second, third and fourth are Great........more info
  • Bye, Bye Miss American Songbook
    A long long time ago
    I can still remember how my sister
    Used to play his songs

    And in the 80s changed his style
    Songs like Love Touch were so vile
    And Forever Young was on the charts too long

    But this whole series makes me shiver
    With each new horror it delivers
    Bad and cheesy music
    It always makes me so sick

    I can't remember if I spewed when I
    Heard him sing "It Had To Be You"
    But his integrity tore in two

    The day the music died....more info
  • Stewart is clueless with the standards!
    Listening to the Standards being sung by Rod Stewart is like listening to Classical Music being played on a kazoo! If you're new to this music, try out some Sinatra CD's. He's the guy who sets the standard when it comes to singing the Standards!...more info
  • Go Back! Go Back!
    I bought this CD at a local Target Store. I took it home and listened to it. At first, I thought this CD was a joke. Then the depressing reality set in: This is the sort of garbage that baby boomers have to look forward to. After that, I went out and got drunk. After weeks of listlessness, I seriously considered killing myself to put myself out of my misery. But then, a miracle happened! I went outside and threw my copy of this CD into the gutter where it belongs... and suddenly, I felt much better!...more info
  • Rod Stewart
    As a Rod Stewart aficionado dating back to 1971, I was highly suspicious of this product, even dismissing it at one early stage as "drivel" ! However, I chanced upon a listen one evening at a dinner party and I have to say it is a recording of the highest quality. The music is immaculately played by session musicians of considerable experience and Stewart's vocal delivery is clear and appealing. Unlike many contemporary artists who have delivered a "swing album", Stewart goes back in many cases here, to the 1930s for his songs and produces something special.

    "Every Time We Say Goodbye", "It Had To Be You", "We'll Be Together Again" and "The Way You Look Tonight" are timeless classics given a really good run-out by Stewart, although whisper it quietly but "You Go To My Head" and "These Foolish Things", although done wel here, were both the beneficiaries of superior covers by Bryan Ferry in the 1970s !

    This album is a triumph, something different and very relaxing after a long, hard day. Love it. ...more info
  • The old rocker in mellow mood
    I never thought I would say this, but Rod Stewart sings brilliantly! There, I've said it.

    As a rock singer, Rod Stewart has used his gravelly voice to good use with the Faces and then as a soloist, but could anyone envisage him taking on these standards? In the past, the answer may have been a resounding "NO". Now, think again!

    This album has a bunch of very wonderful standards - all of them great songs - and Rod sings them brilliantly (there, I've said it again!). He has a fabulous orchestra behind him and a production team that has made sure the album comes out with such polish that it is gleaming - positively blinding.

    I fully appreciate, and respect, the reviewer who wondered whether it was Rod or the songs we liked, but I like both. As for others performing these songs, some of those mention are known for singing this kind of material. The beauty of this album is that Rod is NOT associated with the genre. Call it a "novelty" but it works.

    I also understand that this was a labour of love for Rod, but feel it was time well worth spent. A lot of people must have agreed, because the man decided to go and do it all again with another collection, which is just as good.

    He is looking and sounding good - and he is mellowing and ageing gracefully!

    A well-deserved success - I love it.
    ...more info
  • Through the years.........
    Times change, people change, and people change with time. There seems to be a new crop of music out their. New artists like Steve Tyrell, Norah Jones and Diana Krall. Just to name a few. Who've brought back a sound from a different part of time. Maybe songs our parents listened to when they were dating or just got out of high school. But Rod Stewart? We all remember the raspy sound of the throat busting rocker from his days of fame when we hear Maggie, Hot Legs, or a hit he released in the last decade like Forever Young. This is a different type of music though and from a different era. You have to like this kind of music to appreciate it. I find it to be a very refreshing turn in music being released compared to others today like RAP. If you like RAP, you won't like this. The other has nothing but a beat and lyrics of violence, crime and hate. This music has a soft, relaxing tone to it. A gentle guitar or saxaphone in the background. We all remember the names of that era where this music came from; Ella Fitgerald, Jo Stafford, Sinatra, Bennett, the list is endless. You could take one song from this CD and see it was done by more than a dozen differnt artists back then. This CD brings the music to a new generation that's never heard it. They probably don't know what a 12 inch vinal record is either. In fact I'll bet there's a few young folks out there that have listened to this a couple of times and told theirself, "You know, I like this music." This is a CD you'd like to put on when you invite that special someone over for dinner or just chat and sit out on the porch with each other and look at the moon and stars. I hope this trend of bringing old music back continues. We need more companionship in our life today. We certainly don't need more violence as this RAP suggests.

    Just one last thought... from all the negative reviews I've read on Rod's latest CDs, I would guess that same crowd is to busy out there having sex to take the time to listen to it. Even more so, have never made love in their precious little life yet. What's that, you didn't know there was a difference between the two??...more info

  • Rod stewart
    I also liked this one to. Play it at work every day. We sing along with rod....more info
  • Rod revives WWII-era standards with wit and panache
    On It Had To Be You: The Great American Songbook Vol. 1 by Rod "the Bod" Stewart, Rod lovingly resuscitates WWII-era standards by Gershwin, Kern, Porter, and others in a laid-back ballroom style. Opening with They Can't Take That Away From Me, the strummed guitar, reminiscent of manouche Jazz a la Django, provides a swaggering backing for Rod's playful delivery (this song has become known as "the Knife Song" in my house due to an family tradition of a glass of wine and someone waving a knife in the air during the lyric "the way you hold your knife"). The Way You Look Tonight opens with a sparse, nostalgic pianissimo piano solo and sliding into soft snare brushes as Rod croons the lyrics softly.

    Rod's delivery alternates between a wistful, lovestruck tone on softer, slower songs such as The Nearness of You, For All We Know, and The Nearness of You, or a playful, dashing sort of tossed-off delivery as the lyrics require (You Go To My Head, Moonglow, These Foolish Things). There are jazzier touches such as the blues-inspired intro on Moonglow, or the manouche guitar on For All We Know.

    Rod's band really shines on providing a retro-sounding backing suitable for candlelit dinners or soft, slow dancing, featuring numerous studio musicians on piano and synth, bass, guitar, and drums and guests Dave Koz on tenor sax and Arturo Sandoval and Chris Botti on trumpet. If I had to sum up the mood, it would be "low key." This is wonderfully relaxed and free of too-modern arrangements. Rod's voice may have a scratchier edge than true '40s-era crooners such as Sinatra, but he really inhabits the songs with a playfulness and respect that make him utterly believable in the role of crooner. Even if you're not a fan of Rod's earlier recordings, just give It Had To Be You a try; you may just fall madly in love with these songs, as I did.

    Many critics have commented that these songs don't suit Rod's whiskey voice, but I disagree. For one thing, I, too, grew up hearing Rod's rock persona from his 1970s recordings, so I'm no stranger to his more famous hits such as Maggie May. In fact, this album, which I heard for the first time in 2003, was a watershed moment on my musical tastes and started me on a journey collecting authentic 1940s recordings by Glenn Miller, Tommey Dorsey, Harry James, all of Frank Sinatra's Brunswick and Columbia material, and '40s vocal collections by Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, and Doris Day. If it hadn't have been for Rod's impassioned delivery, I wouldn't have become interested in the Great American Songbook.

    If I had to venture a guess, it would be that Rod has done for revival of the Great American Songbook and WWII standards what Sarah Brightman has done for the popularity of classical crossover, creating the first successful albums that would inspire new genres and artists to flourish. This isn't to say that he's the first to do so; Linda Ronstadt's What's New and 'Round Midnight and Natalie Cole's Unforgettable: With Love and Stardust were on the market in the early 1990s.

    My only disappointment with It Had To Be You was the fact that the subsequent albums never matched the brilliance of the original; As Time Goes By...The Great American Songbook: Volume II, Stardust... The Great American Songbook, Vol. III, and Thanks For The Memory...The Great American Songbook IV featured some lackluster duets with other music celebs and some of the best songs were already covered on this album. After the success of It Had To Be You, practically everybody cashed in on the Songbook hype, including Michael Bolton (Vintage), Cyndi Lauper (At Last), and Carly Simon (Moonlight Serenade).

    This album will appeal to several generations: the Greatest Generation that lived through WWII and remember these songs firsthand, the Baby Boomers that may have grown up hearing these, and finally, my generation (Gen X), who will probably be hearing many of these classics for the first time. Hats off to Rod for preserving and renewing interest in an important American musical legacy that threatened to be lost to fading memories and the ravages of time.
    ...more info
  • Love it, love it, love it!!!
    Finally, after years of disappointing releases, Rod Stewart has found what works well with his voice. I admit I've avoided him since his glory days of "Reason to Believe." The disco and pop he's produced since then has been pretty bad.

    But with this CD, I'm pleased to listen to Rod Stewart again. ...more info
  • A Classy Performance
    Rod Stewart adds a touch of class to these old standards that you've heard over the years. The orchestration is great. A very relaxing classic. I listen to this CD at least twice a day. It was so good I had to order volume II....more info
  • Only because I couldn't give it zero stars....
    This CD is such utter garbage! Stewart does not have the voice to pull off these songs. I recently purchased a Frank Sinatra CD and Amazon recommended this trash. What an insult to Sinatra fans everywhere!...more info
  • So so.
    I'm one of the few in the middle on this CD.

    I know most of these songs pretty well. As others have said, Rod Stewart's renditions don't come close to the definitive artists like Sinatra or Nat King Cole or even Tony Bennet. On the other hand, this CD and his later volumes are great for introducing this music and this genre to folks who didn't grow up with it.

    Finally, if you like Rod Stewart doing these songs, you will like Steve Tyrell even more. ...more info
  • A new groove and it's good.
    The music from this era is timeless and Rod, you do it well, even if it took me some getting used to (remember, many of us grew up listening to "Maggy" etc.) This music is so enjoyable and with artists like you and wonderful newcomer Michael Buble we now know that this music will last forever and forever....more info
  • Unbelievable
    First off to avoid any conflict of interest claims I admit that I an a huge Rod Stewart fan. That being said, I just wasn't interested in hearing him do the old American classics(which I also love). I just didn't see how he could do them justice, that is, until I saw his DVD "Live from Royal Albert Hall" in which he did several of the songs from his first "Great American Songbook". I was just blown away. These songs were now his. I went to the computer to order one of the CDs but my wife talked me into getting all three and I am surely not sorry. I believe that there are very few CDs available with no weak tracks(there are some) but here are three that just don't have a weak track(IMHO). He has made all of these great songs his. My all time favorite song is "Stardust" by Hoagy Carmichael. I had never heard a version that I thought could top his, until now. If you love the old standards you should really give these 3 CDs a listen. They'll melt your heart!!!!...more info
    These are my favorite CDs. As a matter of fact, I bought two copies of each [Songbooks I and II], one for my bedroom and one for the car. I listen to both of Rod's American Songbooks and can't wait for the third to arrive in the mail!

    These are stress-reducers for me. I play them all the time and know all the words by heart, and I even know which song is coming on next because I play them so often. I especially play them when I'm stressed, as they help me relax and put me in a good mood and make me happy. :-)

    I LOVE Rod's voice, and have loved it since I first heard "For the First Time" when a friend played it for me. I've been a fan ever since. These Classics are some of my favorites. Although I grew up in the sixties [I'm 54 now], I've always loved music from the forties, fifties, and sixties the best, and also music from before that time.

    I'm SOOOOOOOOOOO glad that singers are starting to bring back this type of music. It's what I listen to the most.

    I'm also a fan of [singers, writers, musicians, composers, etc.] Barry Manilow, Michael Bubl¨¦, Bill Hayes, Mac Davis, Johnny Crawford [old and new], Neil Sedaka, Michael Crawford, The Beatles, Brian Hyland, Glenn Miller, Leonard Bernstein, Vivaldi, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, The Zombies, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Connie Francis, Ricky Nelson, Bon Jovi, Peter Cetera, Alan Jackson and MANY, many more. You can see that my taste is varied, but now that these Classics have come out, I listen to Rod all the time, including his CD "If We Fall in Love Tonight", which is one of my favorites, if not THE favorite.

    I'm just sorry that Rod didn't sing a lot MORE of the Classics and also "For the First Time" at his concert. However, it was the best I've been to, even better than Barry Manilow's and Paul McCartney's concerts, and that's saying a LOT!

    I strongly disagree with those who say Rod's voice is not suited to these songs. We all have different tastes, and Rod is definitely at the TOP of MY list of singers, ESPECIALLY with these songs!

    ....more info