Now Hear This 2016-17
Chuck Redd
Gus Kahn
(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
 Dublin Bay
(1912)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Grace le Boy
 Pretty Baby
(1916) The Passing Show of 1916
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Tony Jackson, Egbert VanAlstyne
 Along The Way To Waikiki
(1917)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Richard A. Whiting
 I'll Say She Does
(1918) interpolated into Sinbad
Words & music by Gus Kahn, Al Jolson, Bud DeSylva
 'N' Everything
(1918) Sinbad
Words & music by Gus Kahn, Al Jolson, Bud DeSylva
 My Isle Of Golden Dreams
(1919) The Passing Show of 1919
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Blaufuss
 Ain't We Got Fun
(1921) Satires of 1920
Words by Gus Kahn, Raymond B. Egan - Music by Richard A. Whiting
 My Buddy
(1922)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goo'Bye)
(1922) Bombo
Words & music by Gus Kahn, Ernie Erdman, Ted Fio Rito, Dan Russo
 Carolina In The Morning
(1922) The Passing Show of 1922
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 No, No, Nora
(1923)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Ernie Erdman, Ted Fiorito
 Never Again
(1924)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Isham Jones
 When You And I Were Seventeen
(1924)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Charles Rosoff
 Eliza
(1924)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Ted Fiorito
 Charley, My Boy
(1924)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Ted Fiorito
 Dreamer Of Dreams
(1924)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Ted Fio Rito
 Nobody's Sweetheart Now
(1924)
Words by Gus Kahn, Ernie Erdman - Music by Elmer Schoebel, Billy Meyers
 It Had To Be You
(1924)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Isham Jones
 The One I Love
(1924)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Isham Jones
 I'll See You In My Dreams
(1924)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Isham Jones
 I Never Knew
(1925)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Ted Fio Rito
 Yes Sir! That's My Baby
(1925)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Ukulele Lady
(1925)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Richard Whiting
 Drifting Apart
(1925)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Ted Fio Rito
 That Certain Party
(1925)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Sometime
(1925)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Ted Fiorito
 I Wonder Where My Baby Is To-night
(1925)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 For My Sweetheart
(1926)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Blame It On The Waltz
(1926)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Alfred Solman
 Let's Talk About My Sweetie
(1926)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Barcelona
(1926)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Tolchard Evans
 Oh! If I Only Had You
(1926)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Cliff Friend
 Side By Side
(1927)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Harry Woods
 My Ohio Home
(1927)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Baby Feet Go Pitter Patter
(1927)
Words & music by Gus Kahn
 He's The Last Word
(1927)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Sing Me A Baby Song
(1927)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Last Night I Dreamed You Kissed Me
(1928)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Carmen Lombardo
 You Tell Me Your Dream
(1928)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Charles N. Daniels
 Ready For The River
(1928)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Neil Moret
 Where The Shy Little Violets Grow
(1928)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Harry Warren
 Last Night I Dreamed You Kissed Me
(1928)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Carmen Lombardo
 Love Me Or Leave Me
(1928) Whoopee
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Let's All Make Whoopee Tonight
(1928) Whoopee
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Makin' Whoopee!
(1928) Whoopee
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Song Of The Setting Sun
(1928) Whoopee
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Until You Get Somebody Else
(1928) Whoopee
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 I'm Bringing A Red, Red Rose
(1928) Whoopee
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Come West, Little Girl, Come West
(1928) Whoopee
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 The Gypsy Song
(1928) Whoopee
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Here's To The Girl Of My Heart
(1928) Whoopee
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Go Get 'Im
(1928) Whoopee
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 The One I Love
(1929)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Seymour Simons
 Here We Are
(1929)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Harry Warren
 My Baby Just Cares For Me
(1930) Whoopee
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Around The Corner
(1930)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Art Kassel
 I'm Thru With Love
(1931)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Matty Malneck, Fud Livingston
 Guilty
(1931)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Harry Akst, Richard Whiting
 Dream A Little Dream Of Me
(1931)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by F. Andree, W. Schwandt
 I'll Never Be The Same
(1932)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Frank Signorelli, Matt Malneck
 Music Makes Me
(1933) Flying Down to Rio
Words by Gus Kahn, Edward Eliscu - Music by Vincent Youmans
 Flying Down To Rio
(1933)
Words by Gus Kahn, Edward Eliscu - Music by Vincent Youmans
 Carioca
(1933) Flying Down to Rio
Words by Gus Kahn, Edward Eliscu - Music by Vincent Youmans
 Orchids In The Moonlight
(1933)
Words by Gus Kahn, Edward Eliscu - Music by Vincent Youmans
 I've Had My Moments
(1934) Hollywood Party
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Once In A Lifetime
(1934)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 Ha-Cha-Cha
(1934) Caravan
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Werner Richard Heymann
 Waitin' At The Gate For Katy
(1934)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Richard Whiting
 With All My Heart
(1935)
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Jimmy McHugh
 I'm Sittin' High On A Hill Top
(1935) Thanks a Million
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Arthur Johnston
 Gypsy Joe
(1935) Whoopee
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Walter Donaldson
 All God's Children Got Rhythm
(1937) A Day At The Races
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Bronislau Kaper, Walter Jurmann
 The Magic Of Your Love
(1939) Balalaika
Words by Gus Kahn, Clifford Grey - Music by Franz Lehár
 You Stepped Out Of A Dream
(1941) Ziegfeld Girl
Words by Gus Kahn - Music by Nacio Herb Brown
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