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Johnny Mercer: Mosaic Select: Johnny Mercer

Who, among American musicians, was the most influential force of the 1940s? Some, with fair justification, would argue Sinatra. Others might say Goodman or Ellington. But others might vote for Johnny Mercer. At decade’s dawn, Mercer was already established as one of the industry’s most gifted lyricists, having partnered with the likes of Richard Whiting, Jimmy Van Heusen, Harry Warren and Hoagy Carmichael to produce such wide-ranging classics as “Hooray for Hollywood,” “I Thought About You,” “Jeepers Creepers” and “Lazy Bones.” During the 1940s (and, of course, well into the ’60s), his status as a songwriter would reach iconic heights.

In 1942, Mercer teamed with music retailer Glenn Wallichs and Paramount Studios executive Buddy DeSylva to form Capitol Records, future home of Sinatra and the Beatles and, throughout the ’40s, springboard for the careers of Nat “King” Cole, Peggy Lee, Jo Stafford, Martha Tilton, June Christy and countless others. But Mercer was also a recording star, regularly landing atop the charts with such self-penned delights as “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” “Personality,” “Strip Polka” and “Glow Worm.”

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