Monday, December 29, 2014

Johnny Mercer wrote 1,200 songs

Johnny Mercer (1909 to 1976) was an amazing talent. He was one of the most popular singers of the 1940s, behind Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. He was cofounder of Capital Records in 1942 and an executive there. Meanwhile he wrote the lyrics for a lot of songs; he sometimes also composed the music. The lyrics have been found for 1,200 of them. Those found are brought together with complete lyrics in a huge book that has little text beyond the lyrics.

The book: The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer

My list: As I went thorough the book I noted the songs I recall. Here is my list with the songs by year and giving the page number in the book.

Lazy Bones p 22
I’m an Old Cowhand p 44. The funny song of the “cowhand” who rides the range in his Ford V-8.
Hooray for Hollywood p 59
Jeepers Creepers p 74
You must have been a beautiful baby p 74

Fools rush in, page unknown

Blues in the Night p 117. Everyone agreed he deserved the Academy Award for song for this. The award went to the great duo Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein. They apologized to Mercer, agreeing that he deserved the award, because their song was not new and not written for the movie. The rules were soon changed, so that didn’t happen again.

I remember you, page unknown

That Old Black Magic p 136
One for my baby and One more for the Road p 138. It has the Unusual length of 43 bars
Ac-cent-tu-ate the Positive p 144
On the Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe p 152
Come Rain or Come Shine p 162

In the Cool, cool, cool of the Evening p 192
Glow Worm p 220
Something’s Gotta Give p 241
Jubilation T Cornpone from the obscure musical Lil’ Abner

Satin Doll p 272 
I Wanna be around to pick up the Pieces p 275. A little lady working the cosmetics counter in a department store in Youngstown, Ohio, Sadie Vimmerstedt, wrote only the title and first line, but was given full credit as co-composer by Mercer. When asked why he responded that the title and first line is half the work of writing a song.
Two of a Kind p 291
Moon River
Bilbao Song (Bertolt Brecht)
Days of Wine and Roses p 300

I also enjoy a recording I have of Mercer and Bobby Darin singing Paddlin’ Madeline Home, which shares our granddaughter’s name. But Mercer didn’t write it.

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