"I Love You" is a song written by Cole Porter in 1944 for his stage musical Mexican Hayride. The New York Times reviewed the show saying, inter alia, "Of Mr. Porter's score, the best number bears the title almost startling in its forthrightness, "I Love You," and is the property of Mr. Evans" (Wilbur Evans).
However the rather commonplace lyrics of the song and why they were perhaps sub-standard for the songwriter was due to a challenge given Porter. His friend Monty Woolley contended that Porter's talent lay in the off-beat and the esoteric, maintaining that he could never take a cliche title like "I Love You" and write lyrics that included the banal sentiment "It's spring again, and birds on the wing again" and be successful. Porter accepted the challenge with the result that the song eventually topped the hit parade. Porter remarked that the "superior melody overcame the ordinary lyric".
In 1945 Ira B. Arnstein sued Cole Porter for plagiarizing his work and filed a suit in the Federal Court. He had for twenty years been suing various songwriters and was considered to be a little eccentric. He claimed that Porter had stolen four songs ("I Love You", "Don't Fence Me In", "Begin the Beguine" and "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To"). A jury dismissed the charges and the judge, moreover, awarded Porter $2,500 in legal costs, a sum that, since Arnstein couldn't pay it, kept him from any chance of prevailing in a federal court for the rest of his life.
It was recorded by Bing Crosby on February 11, 1944 and topped the Billboard charts for five weeks during an 18-week stay. Other charted versions were by Tommy Tucker, Enric Madriguera, Jo Stafford and Perry Como.
It has become a popular jazz standard tune with recordings by Billy Eckstine, Frank Sinatra, Bill Evans, Herbie Mann, Art Pepper, John Coltrane, Jackie McLean, Don Ellis, Duke Pearson, Hampton Hawes (with Harold Land), Mike Stern, Steve Smith and Vital Information, Oscar Peterson and Keith Jarrett, amongst others.