That old Mercer magic is back, working wonders on the soundtrack from a recent documentary film marking the composer's 100th birthday, "Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me."
Doug Levine, Washington, 12 April 2010
Lyricist Johnny Mercer was one of the world's most prolific composers, turning out more than 1,500 songs, including a classic he co-wrote with Harold Arlen, "That Old Black Magic." Over the years, it's been recorded by Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis, Jr., and, for the new Johnny Mercer documentary, by British jazz star Jamie Cullum.
With a running time of nearly two hours, the film covers Mercer's award-winning career through new and archival interviews, and performances by the some of the greatest entertainers of the past century. Among them, is crooner Bing Crosby, who appears on the soundtrack singing a previously unreleased version of "Something's Gotta Give."
Music and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, recorded in 1955 by Bing Crosby with Buddy Cole and His Trio, that's "Something's Gotta Give." It was first performed by Fred Astaire in the 1955 musical film "Daddy Long Legs."
Georgia native Johnny Mercer, who died in 1976 at the age of 66, crafted one of the most enduring chapters of the "Great American Songbook." His songs were featured on stage and screen, and, of course, on countless recordings. Tapping into the his vast collection of jazz melodies and pop standards on "Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me," are Ella Fitzgerald on "Midnight Sun," Ray Charles singing "Blues In The Night," Chet Baker with "I'm Old Fashioned," and Mercer himself alongside Bobby Darin singing "Two Of A Kind."
Several generations of stars are featured on the soundtrack, from the Tony Bennett and Bono duet "I Wanna Be Around," to a wistful remake of "This Time The Dream's On Me," sung by Clint Eastwood's 13-year-old daughter, Morgan Eastwood. Clint served as executive producer on the album.
Also included is the title track from Queen Latifah's album of jazz standards "Travelin' Light," composed by Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Mundy and Trummy Young in 1942.