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Born in the sultry Southern city of Savannah, lyricist and composer John Herndon “Johnny” Mercer (1909–1976) grew up loving music. It was a love that didn’t let him down.
He began his career writing songs and singing for Paul Whiteman. He wrote his first hit, “Lazy Bones” with Hoagy “Stardust” Carmichael. After paying his dues in Tin Pan Alley, he took off to Hollywood in 1935 to write songs for the movies. Once there, it seemed like everything he did was covered with stardust. His claim to fame would be secure even if he had never written another song besides the Oscarwinning “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses.”
Mercer’s standards crowd the Great American Songbook. They include “Skylark,” “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening”, “Blues in the Night,” “One For My Baby,” “My Shining Hour,” “Charade,” “Whistling in the Dark,” “On the Acheson, Topeka, and the Santa Fe,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” and “I Wanna Be Around.” Tonight, American music specialist Robert Wyatt guides you through Mercer’s extraordinary life and career, with film clips and recordings highlighting his musical relationships with Benny Goodman, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, and other artists who benefited from his genius.
Come tonight and let Johnny Mercer’s music work its “Old Black Magic” on you.
Johnny Mercer is featured on a stamp in the National Postal Museum’s American Music Series: Songwriters Issue.