The Johnny Mercer Centennial Sheet Music Collection
Are song lyrics poetry? Some are poetic, some are metrically flawless, and some evoke beautiful images. To say that lyrics aren’t poetry would be the equivalent of saying “Not all poetry is poetry.” The stuff on the inside of dollar store greeting cards qualifies as poetry, unjust as that may seem, and so does anything that anyone who wants to be called a poet writes as poetry. Therefore, lyricists are poets, but not all of them are good.
Alfred Music Publishing has just released the “officially-licensed commemorative edition of” The Johnny Mercer Centennial Sheet Music Collection; it is arranged for piano, voice, and guitar, and contains 46 songs by one of the twentieth century’s greatest lyricists. The songs were written from the 1930s through the 1960s, and include such classics as “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” “Hooray for Hollywood,” “Moon River,” “Laura,” “Satin Doll,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Autumn Leaves,” and “Too Marvelous for Words” (an apt description of The Johnny Mercer Centennial Sheet Music Collection).
Mercer fans are already familiar with his signature romanticism and wit, sometimes combined as in “The Glow-Worm”: “Glow, little glowworm, fly of fire, glow like an incandescent wire, glow for the female of the specie, turn on the AC and the DC…” Has a bug ever been so eloquently memorialized in poetry?
Included with the sheet music is a section of “commentary” on each song, detailing its history and inspiration, vintage photographs of Mercer and other luminaries, and an introduction to Mercer and his work. The Johnny Mercer Centennial Sheet Music Collection is a must-have for serious students of twentieth-century popular music and Johnny Mercer fans. Artists who want to add some classic, yet kicky, songs to their repertoire will find it a goldmine of material, and poetry fans can read it for the sheer exhilaration of the writer’s art. There’s even something in it for the environmentally-conscious; it’s printed on recycled paper.