Clint Eastwood Presents Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me
Film director Clint Eastwood's love of jazz and American popular song is far from a secret, especially following his feature-length biopic about alto saxophonist Charlie Parker (Bird, 1988), during which the ever restless Eastwood got the idea to produce a feature-length film about pianist Thelonious Monk, released somewhat later during the same year as Straight No Chaser. Hence, it should surprise few that Eastwood will introduce viewers to a month-long 100th birthday celebration of American lyricist Johnny Mercer on Turner Classic Movies (TCM), beginning with Eastwood Presents Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me, which will be telecast in the U.S. on Wednesday, November 4, 2009 with a repeat on Wednesday, November 18. Throughout the month of November, when Mercer would have been 100, Wednesdays on TCM will be devoted to classic Hollywood films with lyrics penned and, in some instances, performed by Mercer, who not only wrote but sang more hit songs than virtually any other American songwriter.
The Eastwood opener is admittedly a "teaser," a mosaic of familiar songs and faces that nevertheless succeeds in giving viewers, regardless of their degree of familiarity with Mercer, plenty of motivation to delve into his considerable body of work. (The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer, published by Knopf earlier in 2009, must surely rank among the thickest, heaviest tomes ever produced.) While Mercer's is a familiar voice and face to anyone who remembers the popular music of the 1930s and 1940s, as well as his later work with singers Bobby Darin, Andy Williams and Barry Manilow (who set his elegiac lyric "When October Goes" to music before releasing a recorded performance posthumously), it comes as a surprise to even many of his steadfast admirers to learn that it was Mercer who founded Capitol records, which would go on to become one of the several most important recording companies of the latter half of the 20th century.