SOME OF THE BEST
18 NOVEMBER 1998
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Photo by Dan Chapman ©2001 Stanyan
A Thought for Today
Aim for the moon. The worst that can
happen is you’ll miss it and end up tumbling through the stars.
Today’s “Some of the Best” is
a reprint of a Flight Plan I did in 1998 saluting the birthday of my
friend and one of the best friends music ever had, Johnny Mercer. In early
March I’ll be part of an all-star salute to Mercer and those of you who
missed out on getting tickets for last week’s Jerry Herman extravaganza
know how quickly the seats for these shows sell out so I’ll keep you
I hope all of you saw the once in a lifetime spectacular shower of stars
last night. Meanwhile, Happy Sunday and read on.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHNNY MERCER
Those of you familiar with
Stanyan (Thank You Very Much) know by now that I use any and every chance
to expound on Johnny Mercer and Jo Stafford [Jo’s Birthday was last week].
Some people are addicted to booze and horses, I get downright cranky
without my daily fix of Jo and Johnny.
I idolized Johnny Mercer long before I ever met him. To my mind Johnny is
the greatest songwriter America ever produced and this country has given
the world some giants, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields, Larry
Hart, The Gershwins. We used to grow 'em here like wildflowers. We've got
a few great ones still with us and some are friends of mine so I won't
mention names of the living for fear of slighting even one I know and
admire. And let's not even get into the immigrants like Irving Berlin who
came to this country and wrote more real American songs than most of the
Mercer over Kern you say and over Cole Porter and Ira Gershwin? I admit
it's a close call. Who could deny the melodic genius of Kern, the wit of
Porter and Ira Gershwin the master of words. But Mercer was unique, he
could write anything. Most of the time he wrote lyrics to other peoples
Mercer wrote the words to Laura, Moon River, You Must Have Been A
Beautiful Baby, Something’s Gotta Give, On The Atchiston, Topeka & The
Santa Fe, Come Rain or Come Shine, I’m Old Fashioned, Accentuate The
Positive, One For My Baby & One More For The Road, That Old Black Magic,
P.S. I Love You, Jeepers Creepers, The Strip Polka, Hooray For Hollywood,
The GI Jive, I’m an Old Cowhand, Anyplace I Hang My Hat Is Home,
Tangerine, I Want To Be Around, The Days of Wine & Roses, Lazy Bones,
Satin Doll, Too Marvelous For Words, Skylark, When A Woman Loves A Man,
The Summer Wind, Autumn Leaves, Fools Rush In, Day In – Day Out, I
Remember You, Bob White, Once Upon A Summertime, And The Angels Sings,
This Time The Dream’s On Me, Goody Goody, When The World Was Young . . ..
Well, you get the picture.
The hundreds of songs he wrote include collaborations with Henry Mancini,
Harold Arlen, Harry Warren, Andre Previn, Ziggy Elman, Hoagy Carmichael,
Jerome Kern, Duke Ellington, Ralph Burns, Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Van Heusen,
Victor Schertzinger, Rube Bloom, Bernie Hanighen, Victor Young, Gordon
Jenkins, Robert Emmit Dolan and on and on.
Every day his songs become more popular than they were the day before. A
cliché, perhaps, but true. In addition to his prolific output as a
wordsmith, during the 1930’s, 40’s & 50’s, Mercer had a major career as a
singer. He influenced among others, Chet Baker, Bobby Troup, Fred Astaire
and a whole group of so called "non-singers" who were every bit as
versatile and compelling as the crooners with real pipes Crosby, Sinatra &
Nat King Cole.
Johnny would have been 89 today. Stanyan has released 3 Mercer albums;
Great American Songwriters, Some of the Best & More of the Best with
another 4 mastered but as yet unreleased. Lots of noise in this world.
Mucho misunderstanding, and let's not forget that ugliest of all
contemporary phrases, in your face, that helps to contribute to it all.
Don’t get Mad, get Johnny Mercer.
RM 11/16/98 First published
in Flight Plan 11/18/98