Other Matters: Mercer, Mercer, Mercer

Thumbnail image for Johnny Mercer.jpgToday is the 100th anniversary of Johnny Mercer’s birth. To celebrate it, Dave Frishberg and Rebecca Kilgore will be the guests on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. See your local listings for station and time, or check here. If you live somewhere other than the United States or if your town doesn’t have an NPR station, the network will archive the program here, usually late the day of the broadcast.
We may presume that, whatever Ms. Gross has up her sleeve, Becky and Dave will accentuate the positive, among other things. I couldn’t find a clip of Mercer singing that famous song of his, but that’s all right because we can enjoy him with Bing Crosby in a recently unearthed television performance. It’s not jazz, except in the sense that these guys were marinated in jazz from the 1920s on. But, hey, Mercer mentions Bix.

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  1. John Birchard says

    Having read Gene Lees’ biography of Johnny Mercer – and various “tell-alls” about Bing Crosby – neither guy was a bed of roses or a walk in the park. But that brief snippet from early TV shows just a little of the remarkable talents and the engaging public personalities of two major figures in American popular music. Knowing what we now know about their private lives, should we be honoring such men? My answer is definitely yes. I can forgive a guy a lot if he creates lasting entertainment and/or brings beauty to the world. When I hear Sinatra sing “Come Rain or Come Shine” (Don Costa’s arrangement), I don’t think of Mercer’s drinking or Sinatra’s all-around bad ass persona. I revel in the song they gave us. Nobody’s perfect.
    John Birchard

  2. Garret Gannuch says

    Thanks for the heads up on the Fresh Air Johnny Mercer radio broadcast. Dave Frishberg and Rebecca Kilgore did a great job. I hope they put out a CD of his songs.