• Two exciting new Carpenters releases are now available. The new book Carpenters: The Musical Legacy can be ordered here. A big thanks to the authors and Richard Carpenter for their tremendous effort in compiling this book! Also, the new solo piano album Richard Carpenter's Piano Songbook is available for ordering here.

Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me- 8pm Nov 4, 2009

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"Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me," 8-10 p.m., Turner Classic Movies.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: "Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me," 8-10 p.m., Turner Classic Movies.
Growing up comfortably in Savannah, Ga., Johnny Mercer became a classic lyricist.

He constantly changed composers and styles; he did Broadway, TV, pop-singles and movies. Sixteen of his songs were nominated for Academy Awards and four won – “Moon River,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” and “On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.”

Previously, Clint Eastwood stuffed Mercer songs into his Savannah-based movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Now Eastwood has produced this film, which has a rich assortment of clips – including many of Mercer as a TV singer – and memories. It's a splendid Hollywood hooray for the man who wrote “Hooray for Hollywood.”

This August I read that Richard was interviewed for this and posted here.
No one responded.
Can anyone tell me if Richard will appear, what Richard talked about?
I think I saw the CD for this at Amazon.
I wonder if this will be released as DVD. (I bought Les Paul DVD and could watch Richard on it. Later it became a movie in Japan.)

Did Richard play Johnny Mercer on Sirius last March?

New York Times
Turner Classic Movies salutes the lyricist Johnny Mercer (1909-76) in the original documentary “Johnny Mercer: The Dream’s on Me” (8 p.m.). Performers like Fred Astaire, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett are seen in clips performing tunes by Mercer, who won four Oscars for best song: “On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe” with Harry Warren, “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” with Hoagy Carmichael and “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses” with Henry Mancini.

Los Angels Times
Paying tribute to Johnny Mercer
A Clint Eastwood-produced documentary on Turner Classic Movies and a film academy event mark the famed lyricist's centennial.

By Susan King

November 4, 2009

Clint Eastwood first became familiar with the work of lyricist Johnny Mercer as a kid growing up in San Francisco in the 1930s and '40s.

"We only had radio at that time," he says, adding with a laugh, "I am dating myself. You would listen to the radio a lot and Johnny Mercer would appear. He was always singing with somebody like Bing Crosby. Everybody talked about the songs. At that time in life you didn't know who wrote the songs, you just knew if you liked them or not."

Suffice it to say that millions of people liked what they heard. During his 40-plus years as a lyricist and composer, Mercer wrote the lyrics for some of the most memorable numbers in the American songbook, including Oscar winners "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," "Moon River" and "Days of Wine and Roses."

Turner Classic Movies and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this week are celebrating the centennial of the prolific lyricist of such standards as "Blues in the Night," "I'm Old Fashioned," "Charade" and "Jeepers, Creepers."

Premiering tonight on Turner Classic Movies is the new documentary "Johnny Mercer: The Dream's on Me," executive-produced by Eastwood and featuring archival footage of Mercer discussing his work and singing, as well as new and archival interviews with the likes of Julie Andrews, singer Michael Feinstein and lyricist Alan Bergman, and clips of Mercer's work sung by Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Shore, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams and Nat King Cole.

The documentary is an Eastwood family affair. Not only does the Oscar-winning actor-director also appear on the documentary, he's joined by his jazz pianist son, Kyle, and 12-year-old daughter, Morgan, who perform from the Mercer catalog.

Nominated for 19 Academy Awards, Mercer wrote with such composers as Henry Mancini, Harold Arlen, Marvin Hamlisch and Hoagy Carmichael. And on occasion, Mercer would also pen the music to his lyrics, as in the case of "Something's Gotta Give" from 1955's "Daddy Long Legs."

Born in Savannah, Ga., on Nov. 18, 1909, Mercer began composing songs at 15 and continued to his death in 1976 at age 66.

A contemporary of such lyricists and composers as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields and George and Ira Gershwin, Mercer was also a popular singer who began his career as a singer-songwriter with Paul Whiteman's orchestra. He also co-founded Capitol Records in 1942, which subsequently signed such greats as Cole, Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, Stan Kenton and Frank Sinatra.

For Eastwood, it's difficult to pick one Mercer song from his many favorites.

"I always liked 'Midnight Sun,' " he says. "I always though it was a poetic lyric -- and 'Blues in the Night,' 'My Shining Hour' and 'Autumn Leaves.' That's a wonderful old song, and we have that footage in the documentary of Nat King Cole, who was my favorite pop singer growing up, performing it. I always felt I was lucky to grow up in a generation where he and Frank Sinatra were around and so many other great singers."

On Thursday evening, Feinstein hosts a sold-out tribute at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater featuring live performances by Feinstein and Monica Mancini, daughter of composer Henry, and film clips and interviews with Bergman and actress Jane Russell among others.

Like Eastwood, Feinstein believes Mercer was a poet. "Setting music to lyrics is different than poetry in that if you separate them, the lyric doesn't always stand on its own because it was created to be a partner to something," Feinstein says.

"However, so many of his lyrics do stand on their own as poetry because he had such an exquisite command of language and an understanding of character and vernacular in a way that enabled him to write with hundreds of collaborators in every conceivable style. It's the most dazzling achievement of any lyricist."

Mercer, says Feinstein, was compelled to write lyrics. "He couldn't help himself. What I mean by that is if he was driving in a car and he heard an instrumental on the radio, he would write a lyric for it. He heard 'Song of India' and he wrote a lyric for it, and that was recorded by Mario Lanza. He heard the old chestnut 'Glow Worm,' and he wrote an updated lyric for it."

In the case of Arlen, with whom Mercer collaborated on such tunes as "Blues in the Night," "That Old Black Magic" and "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)," Feinstein says the composer "wrote long rambling tunes and depended on Johnny to make sense of them. . . .

"Arlen wrote it knowing it would be the words that would crystallize the journey of the tune. Johnny had this ability to take us on a journey."

Though the academy tribute is sold out, there will be a standby line. For information, go to www.oscars.org. For information about the documentary, go to www.tcm.com.

[email protected]

Wall Street Journal
NOVEMBER 3, 2009.
Johnny Mercer, the Cinematic Songwriter

'Johnny Mercer: The Dream's on Me," a new documentary produced by Clint Eastwood (which airs Wednesday, Nov. 4, on Turner Classic Movies, two weeks before the songwriter's centennial on the 18th), begins with archival footage of two Southerners, the songwriter Johnny Mercer and the singer and TV star Dinah Shore, dueting on what, over the past half-century, has become Mercer's most iconic song—"Moon River." Suddenly, the setting is strange, we can see water and sunlight beaming. (To paraphrase Mercer's lyrics to "And the Angels Sing.") We dissolve to a beautiful river, obviously deep in the heart of the American South. It is the Wilmington, in the opening shot from Mr. Eastwood's 1997 film "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," which flows by Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Ga., where Mercer is buried.

Mercer told historian Miles Kreuger, one of the compilers of the new book "The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer" (Knopf) that the original title for the song from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was "Blue River," and thus his remarkable characterization of the river as his "huckleberry friend" was a reference to the color of the water as well as to Mark Twain's adventure-loving, river-traveling boy and the dreams of Mercer's own youth. The river shown in the new documentary is lovely—yet the image isn't nearly as exquisite as that which Mercer's lyrics paint.

According to biographer Philip Furia, Moon River is actually the name of a tiny rivulet that runs out of the Vernon River, where Mercer's family kept a summer home during the teens and '20s. It's practically a stream compared to the Wilmington, but to a little boy playing there, it must have looked "wider than a mile." Like highways or train tracks, the river became a symbol for travel, adventure and adulthood. Mercer lets us see it through the eyes of a child.

The documentary and the book are part of the Johnny Mercer Centennial, which incorporates dozens of events in his hometown of Savannah, as well as in New York, Los Angeles, Paris and around the world. Yet even with all this activity, not one of Mercer's half-dozen or so Broadway shows is being revived anytime soon. Though Mercer wrote several shows with respectable runs, including "Top Banana" and "Li'l Abner," at least one of the talking heads in the Eastwood film observes that Mercer never wrote a classic musical in the manner of Rodgers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe.

Yet it seems entirely logical that Mercer (who died in 1976 at age 66) would be much more successful in the movies than on stage. Hollywood, he wrote, was where you were terrific if you were even good, and Mercer was the very best. He was just about the most decorated lyricist in the history of film, winning four Academy Awards. Such Mercer songs as "Lazybones" and "Skylark" were much more cinematic than theatrical—they don't convey concrete narratives or describe characters so much as paint pictures. "Lazybones" is about a guy who doesn't do anything—not much dramatic action in that—while the only thing that happens in "Skylark" is that a guy tries to get a bird to sniff out available females for him.

The production number based on Mercer's song "On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Sante Fe" in "The Harvey Girls" (1946) is almost too much—you don't need a cast of thousands and a real locomotive is redundant. Judy Garland singing it by herself would be quite enough, as the contemporary cabaret singer Mary Cleere Haran shows us with her amazingly intimate version of the song—which she makes into another "Moon River," a tale of wishing, yearning, and far-flung dreams. (This performance is not in the new documentary, but should be. New Yorkers can catch Ms. Haran live this weekend when she brings her Mercer show to Feinstein's at the Regency.) The documentary also includes a clip of Ruby Keeler tap dancing on a giant typewriter as she introduces "Too Marvelous for Words," which is as charming as it is hysterical and unnecessary. Mercer's lyrics hardly require such visual assistance—they are too fully formed to fit into a larger story. Audrey Hepburn breaks your heart with "Moon River" in "Breakfast in Tiffany's" with just a ukulele, a fire escape and a wet cat.

Mr. Eastwood's documentary touches on Mercer's dark side. He had a long-running affair with Judy Garland, 13 years his junior, to the dismay of his wife. And he was a famously mean drunk. Rosemary Clooney told me that the first time she met Mercer, they were at a party and the hostess was reprimanding him, "You better behave yourself, because I don't want any of your God-damned flowers in the morning!" Still, Mercer's alcoholism, no less than other aspects of his personality, enhanced his artistry. He not only wrote two of the greatest songs ever about the drinking life—"One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)" and "Drinking Again"—but the rich, surreal imagery of "I Remember You," "Laura," "That Old Black Magic," "I'm Old Fashioned," "Out of This World" and, especially, "The Days of Wine and Roses" seems directly informed by these experiences.

Mercer's music is so cinematic that it's not surprising that a famous movie star would produce a documentary about him. But in trying to encompass all the high points of the Mercer story, the songwriter's dozens of film scores and hundreds of well-known songs, "Johnny Mercer: The Dream's on Me" includes too many short clips (the most rewarding of which are Mercer's own appearances on various TV variety and talk shows) and too many interviewees (only one of which is one of Mercer's collaborators, André Previn—and he doesn't talk about "The Good Companions," the 1974 London musical they wrote together that turned out to be Mercer's swan song). Virtually no song is heard all the way through, except for "That Old Black Magic," which is offered over the end titles as performed this August by Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck, ages 83 and 88, respectively. The fast intercutting seems ill-suited to a songwriter who carefully cultivated the image of a slow-moving Southern lazybones.

Still, the documentary ends serenely by cutting back to Mercer and Dinah Shore finishing "Moon River," after which, Shore says to him, "Thank you—from everybody in the world—for that song." Amen to that.

—Mr. Friedwald writes about jazz for the Journal.


This was an absolutely first rate show! I thoroughly enjoyed all his classic music and am looking forward to the movies in the upcoming weeks that feature it.

Thanks, Sakura, for putting these articles here for us to read.

It was announced at the end of the documentary that there will be a CD available for purchase with 18 of the tracks from this TCM show.



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Thanks, Marilyn! :) Did Richard appear?

I found that DVD also will be released! But American Region.



Richard wasn't a part of it, Sakura. Do you know if he was supposed to be included? They may have edited him out because of time constraints.



I Know My First Name Is Stephen
On a related note, did anyone see the clips of Richard on that recent Les Paul special? It charted the history of his career, and many times there were clips of Richard being interviewed in the music room of his house. He was quite animated at times, recounting his memories of Les Paul's music and the birth of the overdubbing method of recording.

I can't recall what show it was, but I'm sure it was on the Biography Channel.


Now I DID see that one with Richard on it. It was on PBS. Since they rerun lots of shows, people who missed it have another chance. There may even be a DVD or CD of this one, too.



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That's the DVD which that I was talking about! The trailer of the movie which contained Richard's interview was No.1 seen video in Japan just after Les Paul's passing.

thestitch said:
Richard wasn't a part of it, Sakura. Do you know if he was supposed to be included? They may have edited him out because of time constraints.

Thanks, Marilyn!

In last August there were many news articles about this program and in the articles songwriter Richard Carpenter was mentioned. There is another musician called Richard Carpenter, but I thought this is our Richard.

I just googled and there were still a couple of articles on the net.
Among the many interviewees included in the special are singers Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett, Margaret Whiting and Dame Cleo Laine; songwriters Richard Carpenter....
Tons of names were written, so I was not sure if the interview with Richard would be included.



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Stephen said that Karen's picture at ABC looked to him like it was taken around 1977. When I read it, I recalled the picture of Karen & Richard with Les Paul. It sometimes looked to me like it was taken a few years earlier.

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