. . . On Frank Gagliano’s Web site ( www.gaglianoriff.com), Johnny Mercer (one of the best singers of his own great songs) sings demos from the score of his “FOXY” — the 1964 Broadway musical that starred the old Cowardly Lion himself, Bert Lahr (Lahr won a Tony for his performance).
Following Johnny’s demo-singing of the following two FOXY songs, “Bon Vivant” and “Money Isn’t Everything,” you’ll find live performances of the same numbers from an actual FOXY show performance, featuring Bert Lahr.
Where and how the live performances were recorded is a mystery, since there was never a commercial FOXY recording made (producer David Merrick’s unfortunate decision). But even from a stage distance (the balcony?), you can get a sampling of Lahr’s stage-comic genius that had been a Broadway legend for decades.
John Herndon "Johnny" Mercer
(November 18, 1909 – June 25, 1976):
Mercer’s stunning catalogue of songs include:
DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES, MOON RIVER, ONE FOR MY BABY (AND ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD), ON THE ATCHESON, TOPEKA AND THE SANTA FE, IN THE COOL, COOL COOL OF THE EVENING (all Academy Award winners), BLUES IN THE NIGHT, FOOLS RUSH IN, I REMEMBER YOU, LAURA, I’M OLD FASHIONED, THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC, DREAM, SKYLARK, SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE, OUT OF THIS WORLD, GI JIVE, SATIN DOLL, MIDNIGHT SUN, CHARADE, AUTUMN LEAVES, AND THE ANGELS SING, HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD, GOODY GOODY, JEEPERS CREEPERS, STRIP POLKA, —about 1500 songs in all.
Mercer also wrote the lyrics for
the classic movie musical, "SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS,"
and, in addition to FOXY, Mercer wrote lyrics for the stage musicals
SAINT LOUIS WOMAN, SARATOGA, LIL ABNER, THE GOOD COMPANIONS,
TOP BANANA (Music, too, for this one)
And while you're at it, read my essay,
Rediscovering The Genius of the American Songwriter,
Giant Of The Great American Songbook
[Up Close, Moving, And Personal]
("ON MERCER" is a piece Michael Feinstein liked)
You can access “ON MERCER” and the Mercer/FOXY/Bert Lahr tracks all at
(link mercer/american songbook ).
My past correspondence with the late Gene Lees,
Jazz/American Songbook critic, essayist,
Johnny Mercer biographer, lyricist for Jobim songs,
(and a prolific and great prose stylist). . .
including how — in the yore days –
I brought Gene to Pittsburgh (Carnegie Mellon University),
to West Virginia University,
and to The University of Nevada Las Vegas,
to consult (at UNLV) on a Mercer musical Revue at UNLV
— and why (alas), while we were in rehearsal,
Gene fell out with me – and left.