Can you ever really have enough Mercer?

I’ve been catching flack from from friends and strangers alike for my recent Johnny Mercer: ” The Dream’s on Me” DVD review.

It appears my plan to treat the documentary as a DVD review of JM’s life rather than a Mercer music review was utter folly … folly I say!

Well, I really wanted to review the DVD for the superb documentary that it was and shower appropriate accolades on Clint Eastwood and team for the fine work they did in the offing.

That said, I DO see how pretty much any discussion of Johnny Mercer’s life that doesn’t at least highlight favorite numbers from his prodigious 1500+ song catalog is indeed missing the point of Johnny’s life.

It’s Johnny’s fault…

Mercer’s voluminous life’s work is the problem. His catalog is so vast, and so replete with hit songs that virtually any attempt to characterize it comes up short. I know this because I’ve attempted the deed myself on a coupe of occasions (including my recent “Pineapple Pete” piece). I truly believe I could write a five or six part series on Johnny’s singer/songwriter career and still have trouble capturing him in that  7,500+ word effort! (Hmmm… a multipart “Mercer series”… hmmm)

I’m going to think some more about “the Mercer series” but today — at the risk of not even scratching the surface of the tool I would use to scratch the surface — here are ten of my favorites from Johnny Mercer ‘s miles long hit parade. “Ten songs!” I hear you scream… “Out of 1,500!!” Yup, somehow picking just ten songs out of Mercer’s catalog is so ludicrous that — in a weird way — it takes the pressure off.

Further pressure relief comes from the fact that this is NOT an attempt at a “top ten” … it’s ten Mercer numbers that are favorites of mine and are lurking around in my frontal lobe at the moment.

I’m going to write them out now and immediately hit publish without even trying to review or edit (apologies in advance for any spelling and grammar faux pas).

Picking ten songs is so nutty that if I look back over the list I will start making changes, get stuck in an iterative song selection loop and end up having some sort of seizure … best if we avoid that.

Ludicrous speed and beyond!

I don’t think you can even legally begin digging into Mercer’s catalog until to listen to Johnny himself sing “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive”. OK, that law may not actually be on the books … but it should be! Many, many artists have recorded this number but I think Johnny’s version is the gold standard … I’m not exaggerating when I say that I don’t think there exists a recording of a singer having more fun singing a song that Johnny does singing “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate…”.

From there, the remaining nine…

  • “Skylark” – the Savannah poet at his best
  • “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)” – if you look up “Torch ballad” in Webster’s…
  • “Laura” – the song Cole Porter and Irving Berlin both said they wished they’d written
  • “The Days of Wine and Roses” – My favorite of Johnny’s four Oscar winners
  • “Come Rain Or Come Shine” – Sinatra …
  • “Autumn Leaves” – French bistro conversion that Mercer made into a classic
  • “Satin Doll” – Nat King Cole …
  • “I Thought About You” – Judy Garland tryst inspired love poetry
  • “Too Marvelous For Words” – Frank and Nat…

Whew … so, that wasn’t too hard. No really, it hardly hurts at all that I left out “Moon River”, “That Old Black Magic”, “Day In Day Out” … oh my, that put’s me up to 13.

I think I’d better hit the “publish” button on this post before I start thinking about … “Something’s Gotta Give”, “I’m Old Fashioned”, “Tangerine”, “G.I. Jive”, “Charade”, “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby” …. help me, please help me … “Summer Wind”, “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home” …. I MUST …”I Want To Be Around” … PUSH … “Baby It’s Cold Outside” … THE … “Glow Worm” …BUTTON … (click) 😉