OFAM 2019
Moonlight Serenade
Johnny Mercer
(yyyy-yyyy)
John Herndon Mercer (1909-76) was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia where he acquired a deep, self-trained knowledge of and love for popular music of all types, especially, and importantly, the blues, gospel, and jazz of his home surroundings. His southern roots were relatively unique among his contemporary songwriters, and his penchant for church gospel and early blues and jazz would serve him well throughout his career.
In 1928 Mercer moved to New York to become an actor. He also sang, composed, and wrote lyrics, and connected with others in “the business” from whom he learned, such as Yip Harburg, a singing gig on a Paul Whiteman radio broadcast, and a collaboration on a tune for Garrick Gaieties. It was generally hard-going for him until a chance encounter with Hoagy Carmichael resulted in their joint composition in 1933 of “Lazybones” which drew upon Mercer’s comfort with authentic Southern black dialect. The song became on instant hit.
In 1935, RKO Studios brought Mercer to Hollywood to write and act in films, and his career skyrocketed. His first Hollywood success was 1936’s tongue-in-cheek “I’m An Old Cowhand”, which was introduced by Bing Crosby in Rhythm On The Range and for which he wrote both words and music (although he was principally a lyrcist and entertainer, he composed as well, as he did with 1944’s “G.I. Jive”). “Cowhand” was followed later that year by “Goody Goody”, and the year after by “Too Marvelous For Words” and “Hooray For Hollyood”. In 1938 he wrote the Best Song Academy Award nominated “Jeepers Creepers” with Harry Warren, as well as “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby”. This was followed in 1939 with two Alley hits “Fools Rush In” and “Day In, Day Out”.
In the early 1940s Mercer’s sophisticated lyric-writing connected with the bluesy musical style of Harold Arlen, and together they wrote some of the best of popular song of the age—“Blues in the Night”, “That Old Black Magic”, “One For My Baby”, “My Shining Hour”, “Come Rain or Come Shine” and more. Other smash his of the early ‘40s incuded “Skylark” (with Carmichael), “You Were Never Lovelier” (with Jerome Kern), and “Tangerine”.
Elected to the ASCAP board in 1940, Mercer co-founded Capitol Records in 1942, and working with a stable of talent that included Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra and Nat “King” Cole. During these early war years, he began to entertain troops in California and to make recordings for the AFRS including Command Performance, Mail Call, Song Sheet, V-Discs, and his Johnny Mercer’s Music Shop AFRS radio show.
Mercer wrote nearly 1,500 songs, received 18 Best Song Oscar nominations, and won 4, for “On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe” (1946, with Harry Warren), “In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening” (1951, with Hoagy Carmichael), “Moon River” (1961, with Henry Mancini) and “Days Of Wine And Roses” (1962, also with Henry Mancini).
Artwork
 At The Jazz Band Ball
(1917)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Nick LaRocca, Larry Shields
 Lazybones
(1933)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Hoagy Carmichael
 Moon Country Is Home To Me
(1934)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Words & music by Hoagy Carmichael
 The Dixieland Band
(1935)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Bernie Hanighan
 I'm Building Up To An Awful Let-Down
(1935)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Fred Astaire
 Jamboree Jones
(1936)
Words & music by Johnny Mercer
 Goody-Goody
(1936)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Matty Malneck
 I'm An Old Cowhand (From The Rio Grande)
(1936) Rhythm On The Range
Words & music by Johnny Mercer
 Too Marvelous For Words
(1937) Ready, Willing, Able
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Richard Whiting
 Hooray For Hollywood
(1937) Hollywood Hotel
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Richard Whiting
 Silhouetted In The Moonlight
(1937) Hollywood Hotel
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Richard Whiting
 Bob White
(1937)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Bernie Hanighan
 Have You Got Any Castles, Baby?
(1937) Varsity Show
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Richard Whiting
 I've Hitched My Wagon To A Star
(1937) Hollywood Hotel
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Richard A. Whiting
 Let That Be A Lesson To You
(1937) Hollywood Hotel
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Richard A. Whiting
 Love Is Where You Find It
(1938) Garden Of The Moon
Words by Johnny Mercer, Al Dubin - Music by Harry Warren
 You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby
(1938) Hard To Get
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harry Warren
 Jeepers Creepers
(1938) Going Places
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harry Warren
 Say It With A Kiss
(1938) Going Places
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harry Warren
 And The Angels Sing
(1939)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Ziggy Elman
 I Thought About You
(1939)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Jimmy Van Heusen
 I Walk With Music
(1940)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Hoagy Carmichael
 Fools Rush In
(1940)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Rube Bloom
 You've Got Me This Way
(1940) You'll Find Out
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Jimmy McHugh
 Tangerine
(1941) The Fleet's In
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Victor Schertzinger
 All Through The Night
(1941)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Arthur Schwartz
 Blues In The Night
(1941) Blues In The Night
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harold Arlen
 This Time The Dream's On Me
(1941) Blues In The Night
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harold Arlen
 I Remember You
(1942)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Victor Schertzinger
 That Old Black Magic
(1942) Star Spangled Rhythm
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harold Arlen
 Hit The Road To Dreamland
(1942) Star Spangled Rhythm
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harold Arlen
 Skylark
(1942)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Hoagy Carmichael
 Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry
(1942) The Fleet's In
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Victor Schertzinger
 Strip Polka
(1942)
Words & music by Johnny Mercer
 You Were Never Lovelier
(1942) You Were Never Lovelier
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Jerome Kern
 I'm Old Fashioned
(1942) You Were Never Lovelier
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Jerome Kern
 One For My Baby
(1943) The Sky's The Limit
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harold Arlen
 My Shining Hour
(1943) The Sky's The Limit
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harold Arlen
 Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive
(1944) Here Come The Waves
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harold Arlen
 Dream
(1944)
Words & music by Johnny Mercer
 Trav'lin' Light
(1944)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Johnny Moore, Trummy Young
 G. I. Jive
(1944)
Words & music by Johnny Mercer
 June Comes Around Every Year
(1945) Out Of This World
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harold Arlen
 Autumn Leaves
(1945)
Words by Johnny Mercer (en), Jacques Prévert (fr) - Music by Joseph Kosma
translation of Les Feuilles Mortes
 The Wild, Wild West
(1945) The Harvey Girls
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harry Warren
 Swing Your Partner Round And Round
(1945) The Harvey Girls
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harry Warren
 You've Got Me Where You Want Me
(1945)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harry Warren
 Laura
(1945) Laura
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by David Raksin
 Out Of This World
(1945) Out Of This World
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harold Arlen
 On The Atchison, Topeka, And The Santa Fe
(1945) The Harvey Girls
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harry Warren
 Ridin' On The Moon
(1946)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harold Arlen
 Come Rain Or Come Shine
(1946) St. Louis Woman
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Harold Arlen
 Forever Amber
(1947) Forever Amber
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by David Raksin
 Early Autumn
(1949)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Woody Herman, Ralph Burns
 In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening
(1951) Here Comes The Groom
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Hoagy Carmichael
 The Glow-Worm
(1952)
Words by Johnny Mercer, Lilla Cayley Robinson - Music by Paul Lincke
based on The Glow-Worm
 Satin Doll
(1953)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn
 Midnight Sun
(1954)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Lionel Hampton, Sonny Burke
 Moon River
(1961) Breakfast At Tiffany's
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Henry Mancini
 Days Of Wine And Roses
(1962) Days Of Wine And Roses
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Henry Mancini
 The Sweetheart Tree
(1965) The Great Race
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Henry Mancini
 Summer Wind
(1965)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Heinz Meier
translation of Der Sommerwind
 Happy Ever After
(1971)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Dick Hyman
 Empty Tables
(1976)
Words by Johnny Mercer - Music by Jimmy Van Heusen
Johnny Mercer is featured in these OFAM 2019 Might As Well Be Swing events:

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