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Born: John Herndon Mercer, Nov. 18, 1909, Savannah, Georgia, (US)
Died: June 25, 1976 (age 66) Los Angeles, Califonia
Primary songwriting role: lyricist; also a singer, composer, actor, and co-founder of Capitol Records.
Miles Kreuger opens his essay "Johnny Mercer -- Too Marvelous for Words" with the following paragraph that captures the broad outlines as well as the essence of the songwriter's fabulous career:
He received an astonishing eighteen Academy Award nominations for best song and and won four times. He has one of the largest catalogs of hits in ASCAP, for which he served as a board member. Largely a man who wrote lyrics, he also penned the music for some of his best songs, although Margaret Whiting claims that he could barely play the piano with one finger. He appeared as an actor in two movies and had bit roles in several Broadway productions. He cofounded Capitol Records and transformed the neophyte label into a competitor to RCA Victor, Columbia, and Decca. But it was as a familiar radio singer and recording star that Johnny Mercer by far became the best-loved songwriter in history (The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer, p. xv).
In an aside, Alec Wilder says of Mercer's lyrics, "I believe that one of the reasons Johnny Mercer's lyrics have an added zest, a crackle and shine to them, is that he probably sings them as he writes them. For after all, he began his career as a singer" (Wilder, p. 507, hardcover Ed.).
Johnny Mercer (This section is currently in preparation)
An Evening with Johnny Mercer
(CD of Mercer's appearance
at the 92nd Street Y, NYC, March 1971,
"Lyrics and Lyricists Series"
where he sings and talks about his songs--
a priceless performance -- Amazon only
David Ewen. American Songwriters, An H. W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary. New York: The H. W. Wilson Co., 1987 (includes 146 bios of composers and lyricists). -- a wide selection of used copies is available at abebooks.com (entry, pp. 279-282).
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Master List of Great American Songbook Songwriters
Names of songwriters who have written at least one song included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook are listed below.
Names of songwriters with two or more song credits in the catalog (with rare exceptions) are linked to their own Cafe Songbook pages, e.g. Fields, Dorothy.
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Please note: Cafe Songbook pages for songwriters are currently in various stages of development.