Into every singer's repertoire, a song or two by Johnny Mercer must fall. In Dr. John's case, when it rains Johnny Mercer songs it pours.
Singer and pianist Dr. John is no stranger to the Great American songbook. His 1989 collection of pop standards, In A Sentimental Mood, features classics by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, and, of course, Johnny Mercer.
It was almost by accident that Dr. John, known for his fusion of New Orleans funk, pop and soul, ever got around to making an album of Johnny Mercer tunes. Thinking it was a perfect match for her father, Dr. John's daughter suggested he record Mercer's 1946 hit "Personality." Noting similarities between himself and his fellow Southerner, including their passion for being in the spotlight, Dr. John recorded not one, but 10 Johnny Mercer compositions for his new album, Mercernary.
Johnny Mercer himself recorded a number of songs during his career, and even though he didn't write "Personality," it's one that always suited his, well … personality.
It was no easy task sorting through a body of work that spans more than 30 years. But in the end, Dr. John decided to go with Johnny Mercer's most-popular songs, including those he wrote with Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael and Henry Mancini. Dr. John's soulful arrangements, fueled by his band The Lower 911, will actually have you thinking that Mercer was born and raised in New Orleans rather than Savannah, Georgia.
Dr. John recorded Mercernary just a few months before Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on his native New Orleans. For the past year, he's been an active participant in the city's comeback. He recently returned to his hometown to perform in a benefit concert to mark the one-year anniversary of the hurricane.