Johnny Mercer: Southern Songwriter for the World

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University of Georgia Press, Nov 15, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 521 pages
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John Herndon “Johnny” Mercer (1909–76) remained in the forefront of American popular music from the 1930s through the 1960s, writing over a thousand songs, collaborating with all the great popular composers and jazz musicians of his day, working in Hollywood and on Broadway, and as cofounder of Capitol Records, helping to promote the careers of Nat “King” Cole, Margaret Whiting, Peggy Lee, and many other singers. Mercer’s songs—sung by Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, and scores of other performers—are canonical parts of the great American songbook. Four of his songs received Academy Awards: “Moon River,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe,” and “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening.” Mercer standards such as “Hooray for Hollywood” and “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” remain in the popular imagination.

Exhaustively researched, Glenn T. Eskew’s biography improves upon earlier popular treatments of the Savannah, Georgia–born songwriter to produce a sophisticated, insightful, evenhanded examination of one of America’s most popular and successful chart-toppers. Johnny Mercer: Southern Songwriter for the World provides a compelling chronological narrative that places Mercer within a larger framework of diaspora entertainers who spread a southern multiracial culture across the nation and around the world. Eskew contends that Mercer and much of his music remained rooted in his native South, being deeply influenced by the folk music of coastal Georgia and the blues and jazz recordings made by black and white musicians. At Capitol Records, Mercer helped redirect American popular music by commodifying these formerly distinctive regional sounds into popular music. When rock ’n’ roll diminished opportunities at home, Mercer looked abroad, collaborating with international composers to create transnational songs.

At heart, Eskew says, Mercer was a jazz musician rather than a Tin Pan Alley lyricist, and the interpenetration of jazz and popular song that he created expressed elements of his southern heritage that made his work distinctive and consistently kept his music before an approving audience.

 

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JOHNNY MERCER: Southern Songwriter for the World

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A painstakingly researched biography of Johnny Mercer (1909-1976), one of the great songwriters of the classic era of American popular music.Eskew (History/Georgia State; But for Birmingham: The Local ... Read full review

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"Have you seen Ann Louise, my sister? She was a movie star in "80 Days Around the World' AND SHE AND MY GRANDFATHER WROTE SONGS FOR Christmas time. She was a friend of Miss Shirley Temple and me, Mary Kate. Please have her contact me by email. Happy Holidays to You! Legal Assistant, Miss Mary Kate Ivanetich M.K.I.
I have a feeling Ann Louise needs help to protect her Intellectual Property rights, trademarks and copyrights. Her birthday is November 11, 1945 and she was born in California U.S.A.
International Copyright Ann Louise U.S.A. 1955 M.K.I. Legal Assistant
 

Contents

Introduction
1
Chapter One
21
Chapter Two
47
Chapter Three
81
Chapter Four
120
Chapter Five
158
Chapter Six
193
Chapter Seven
229
Chapter Eight
275
Chapter Nine
321
Conclusion
366
Notes
385
Permissions
473
Index
481
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

 Glenn T. Eskew is a professor of history at Georgia State University. He is the author of But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle, editor of Labor in the Modern South, and coeditor of Paternalism in a Southern City.

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