Celebrating Johnny Mercer on his Birthday
November 18, 2013 11:27 AM   Subscribe

Today is the 104th birthday of Johnny Mercer, the great American lyricist, songwriter, and singer. We have him to thank for:

Blues in the Night (music by Harold Arlen)
One for My Baby (music by Harold Arlen)
That Old Black Magic (music by Harold Arlen)
Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home (music by Harold Arlen)
Something's Gotta Give (music by Johnny Mercer)
Fools Rush In (music by Rube Bloom)
Come Rain or Come Shine (music by Harold Arlen)
I Had Myself a True Love (music by Harold Arlen)
Days of Wine and Roses (music by Henry Mancini)
Skylark (music by Hoagy Carmichael)
Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive (music by Harold Arlen)
I Wanna Be Around (words and music by Johnny Mercer and Sadie Vimmerstedt)

and a lot of others. More listening, with less clicking here, from 4:00 to 7:00 and 10:00 to midnight eastern time.
posted by still_wears_a_hat (15 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Nice post! I just watched Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which features lots of Mercer's music, and was going to be looking for many of these. You saved me minutes of tedious clicking and therefore Win the Internets!
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:33 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

How could you overlook I'm An Old Cowhand (From The Rio Grande)?
posted by tommasz at 12:41 PM on November 18, 2013

Check out Mercer's own '70s-lounge-singer take on Moon River.
posted by BurntHombre at 12:55 PM on November 18, 2013

If you liked the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, then the original book by John Berendt is also recommended. The book has several scenes which didn't quite fit into the adaptation, some of which are fairly strange, and it also goes into more detail about Johnny Mercer.
posted by ovvl at 2:03 PM on November 18, 2013

Mercer was wonderful, but sometimes he overshadowed his partners. I'm thinking particularly of Victor Schertzinger, who wrote the beautiful lyrics to "I Remember You", but is mostly unremembered today. However, in the spirit of Dorothy Hammerstein reacting to someone speaking of Jerome Kerns's "Old Man River," it was Schertzinger who wrote "I Remember You" -- Mercer wrote "dah-de-dah-dah-dah..."
posted by ubiquity at 2:14 PM on November 18, 2013

Love it. Glad you got some Hoagy Carmichael in there. That guy is teaching me how to play piano, every day.
posted by surplus at 2:30 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

ubiquity, I think you have it reversed, at least according to that Wikipedia article.
Cookiebastard and surplus, thanks.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:52 PM on November 18, 2013

I think of him every time I visit Savannah.
posted by UseyurBrain at 3:37 PM on November 18, 2013

One of the beautiful moments of my life was being in a small room, hearing John Pizzarelli do a very quiet version of Mercer's I Thought About You. Exquisite.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:48 PM on November 18, 2013

We have him to thank (and his widow for providing the lyric to Barry) for When October Goes, one of Barry's best songs, IMO.
posted by hippybear at 7:26 PM on November 18, 2013

Ugh you're right, i don't know what i was thinking. Well, just goes to prove how wonderful Mercer really was.
posted by ubiquity at 7:40 PM on November 18, 2013

I discovered "Blues in the Night" a few years ago (via the hilarious Warner Brothers cartoon "Early to Bet" linked from here) and became briefly obsessed with learning about it and finding which version I liked best.

It turned out that Mercer and Arlen were so excited upon its completion that they crashed a Hollywood dinner party with some notable performers to play it -- where it was an instant hit. Also, its 1941 loss (along with "Chattanooga Choo Choo") of the Academy Award for Best Original Song eventually led to the rule change that songs must be specifically composed for a movie to be nominated. (Wikipedia)

So thank you to Mercer and Arlen for writing the song, Carl Stalling and the Termite Terrace gang for making such entertaining use of it, and JHarris for leading me to the cartoon.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:50 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

The first Girl Scout Headquarters in Savannah has a picture of scouts practicing their first aid skills on him.
posted by brujita at 10:49 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

DVR alert: "You Were Never Lovelier" is on TCM on Dec 11. (You can have the webpage send you an email reminder)
it has a lot of Mercer songs.
posted by surplus at 5:41 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

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