18 February 2012

Johnny Mercer meets The Beatles

The Beatles included the song "I Remember You" (music by Victor Schertzinger, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, 1941) in their 1962 live performances, with Paul McCartney on vocals. The Beatles' arrangement of "I Remember You" was a duplicate of the 1962 recording issued by Frank Ifield.

"P.S. I Love You" (music by Gordon Jenkins, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, 1934) has been recorded many times. Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Kay Starr, among others.
In 1962, The Beatles recorded a Paul McCartney - John Lennon composition also titled "P.S. I Love You". McCartney was probably aware of the Mercer song. But you can't copyright a song title.
Producer Ron Richards: "I was originally a music publishing man, a plugger, so I knew someone had done a record with that title. I said to Paul [McCartney] 'You can have it as B-side, but not an A-side.'"

Mercer's biographer Gene Lees expressed annoyance at this duplicate title.

Johnny Mercer co-founded Capitol Records in 1942. The Beatles joined Capitol in 1963. Johnny was gone from Capitol by then.

Ringo Starr sang Johnny Mercer's 1944 song "Dream" (produced and arranged by George Martin) for his 1970 standards album Sentimental Journey.

Paul McCartney contacted Johnny Mercer in the 1970s in an attempt to write a song with Johnny. But Mercer was already ill and nearing the end of his life.

The 2012 Paul McCarney album Kisses On The Bottom includes "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" (music by Harold Arlen - lyrics by Johnny Mercer, 1944).