Indelible Lines

Before the Rifftides staff gets back to business as usual, whatever that is, we’re finding it difficult to let go of thoughts about Johnny Mercer. Lines from his songs won’t go away — ever.

There’s a dance pavillion in the rain,
All shuttered down…
I remember, too,
a distant bell
and stars that fell
like rain,
out of the blue.
Faint as a will-o-the-wisp,
crazy as a loon,
sad as a gypsy
serenading the moon.
The days of wine and roses
laugh and run away,
like a child at play…
Go out and try your luck–
you may be Donald Duck.
Hooray for Hollywood!
I know every trail in the Lone Star State,
’cause I ride the range in a Ford V-Eight…
This torch that I’ve found
must be drowned or it soon might explode.
Make it one more for my baby
and one more for the road,
that long, long road.
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  1. says

    Thanks for your Mercer columns, Doug — that PBS show was sure an eye-ear opener for me. Much as I’ve loved so many of Mercer’s songs (including the Lil Abner cast recording) since childhood, I never realized he was responsible for all of them. Such scope! Mastery of American vernacular! Wit! Who’s the likes of this now?

  2. says

    Forgive me if I repeat information offered in some earlier post, but a month ago Knopf published The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer, certainly a book to dip into for many years to come. And–echoing the words of another Mercer fan–“Skylark” for one soars up there among the Romantic poets.

  3. Phil Wood says

    I honestly didn’t know Johnny Mercer wrote “Early Autumn,” which has the most haunting melody and incredible lyrics of any song I know. I’ve loved it for a very long time, yet don’t have it anywhere in my music collection. I seem to remember a Billy Eckstein rendition, but I know it’s been recorded by many artists. Can anyone refresh my memory or make a suggestion?
    (Yes. Try Carole Sloane’s sumptuous version in her CD “The Real Thing:”
    And the definitive vocal by Woody Herman:
    Ralph Burns wrote the music in the mid-1940s for Herman’s First Herd as part of his suite “Summer Sequence” (Columbia). Mercer wrote the lyric years later and Herman recorded it for Capitol. — DR)