Prolific and terrific, warm or witty, Johnny Mercer was, to employ one of his song titles, just “Too Marvelous for Words.” That 1937 song had music by Richard Whiting, father of Mercer protegee and friend and another of our Hall of Fame-rs, singer Margaret Whiting, now President of the music education-focused Johnny Mercer Foundation. Most often writing just the lyrics, the Southern charm of this Georgia native found its mots justes in collaborations with such composers as Harold Arlen (“Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Blues in the Night,” Broadway scores St. Louis Woman; Saratoga), Hoagy Carmichael (“Skylark,” “Lazybones”), Gene DePaul (scores of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; L’il Abner), Henry Mancini (Oscar winners “Moon River,” “The Days of Wine and Roses”), as well as Jerome Kern, Harry Warren, Andre Previn, Fred Astaire, and—posthumously—Barry Manilow. Mercer wrote words and music for “Something’s Gotta Give” and “Dream,” a song that became the title of a Broadway show using many of his songs and featuring cabaret favorites John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey (they met working on this show) and Miss Whiting.
This is Mercer’s centennial; he died in the year of our country’s bicentennial, 1976. He was also a singer and recording artist, co-founded Capitol Records, had his own radio shows, and performed in the Lyrics & Lyricists series at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y. Expect to hear lots of Mercer during his 100th—that’s fine by us.
Category: Hall of Fame