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Thu Nov 30, 2017, 04:35 PM

Happy 80th birthday, Frank Ifield, known for his performance of a song co-written by Johnny Mercer

Last edited Sun Jul 5, 2020, 06:42 AM - Edit history (2)

I've been thinking about Johnny Mercer lately. If you've ever read "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," you know who I'm talking about. I was surprised to see he had written the words for Frank Ifeld's signature tune.

Speaking of Johnny Mercer, I see I managed to miss his birthday, on November 18th, so think of think of this as a double post.

Frank Ifield

Francis Edward "Frank" Ifield (born 30 November 1937) is an English-born Australian easy listening and country music singer who often incorporated yodeling into his performances. Ifield achieved considerable success in the early 1960s, especially in the UK Singles Chart, where he had four No. 1 hits in 1962 and 1963.

{snip}

1960s success

His first record in the UK was "Lucky Devil" (1960), which reached No. 22 in the UK charts. His next six records were less successful, but he finally broke through with "I Remember You", which topped the charts for seven weeks in 1962. Known for Ifield's falsetto and a slight yodel, it was the second-highest-selling single of that year in the UK and became the seventh million-selling single.

His next single was a double A-side: "Lovesick Blues" and "She Taught Me to Yodel". "Lovesick Blues" was originally sung by Hank Williams and was treated in an upbeat "Let's Twist Again" style. The other song is a virtuoso piece of yodelling with the final verse – entirely yodelling – sung at double-speed. It also reached No. 44 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. His next hit, "Wayward Wind", made him the first UK-based artist to reach No. 1 three times in the UK in succession. The only other person to have done so at that point was Elvis Presley.

{snip}

Johnny Mercer

John Herndon Mercer (November 18, 1909 – June 25, 1976) was an American lyricist, songwriter and singer. He was also a record label executive, who co-founded Capitol Records with music industry businessman Buddy DeSylva and Glenn E. Wallichs.

Early life

Mercer was born in Savannah, Georgia. His father, George Anderson Mercer, was a prominent attorney and real estate developer, and his mother, Lillian Elizabeth (née Ciucevich), George Mercer’s secretary and then second wife, was the daughter of a Croatian immigrant father and a mother with Irish ancestry. Lillian's father was a merchant seaman who ran the Union blockade during the U.S. Civil War. Mercer was George's fourth son, first by Lillian. His great-grandfather was Confederate General Hugh Weedon Mercer and he was a direct descendant of American Revolutionary War General Hugh Mercer, a Scottish soldier-physician who died at the Battle of Princeton. Mercer was also a distant cousin of General George S. Patton. The construction of Mercer House in Savannah was started by General Hugh Weedon Mercer in 1860 (although never finished by him; the next owners of the house finished it), later the home of Jim Williams, whose trial for murder was the centerpiece of John Berendt's book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Neither the General, nor Mercer himself, ever lived there.

{snip}

Personal life

In 1931, Mercer married Ginger Meehan, a chorus girl, later a seamstress; and in 1940, when he was 30, the Mercers adopted a daughter, Amanda ("Mandy" ).

In 1941, shortly after the death of his father, Mercer began an intense affair with 19-year-old Judy Garland while she was engaged to composer David Rose. Garland married Rose to stop the affair, but the effect on Mercer lingered, adding to the emotional depth of his lyrics. Their affair revived later. Mercer stated that his song "I Remember You" was the most direct expression of his feelings for Garland.

{snip}

Anyway, here's Frank Ifield's performance of "I Remember You":



This guy is remembered for the song too, but he was not the first to perform it:

Slim Whitman

Ottis Dewey "Slim" Whitman (January 20, 1923 – June 19, 2013), was an American country music and western music singer-songwriter and instrumentalist known for his yodeling abilities and his smooth, high, three-octave-range falsetto in a style christened as "countrypolitan".

Legacy

Beatle George Harrison cited Whitman as an early influence: "The first person I ever saw playing a guitar was Slim Whitman, either a photo of him in a magazine or live on television. Guitars were definitely coming in." When a young Paul McCartney purchased his first guitar, the left-handed musician was unsure how to play an instrument that was manufactured and strung for a right-handed player. It was not until McCartney saw a picture of Whitman playing left-handed that he re-strung his guitar so that he too could play left-handed. American pop singer Michael Jackson cited Whitman as one of his ten favorite vocalists.

{snip}



From the record:



There were so many great Johnny Mercer songs. Here he is, singing one you've probably heard:



Possibly you've heard this one too:



Until now, I hadn't thought it possible for one post to tie together Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington, two of the Beatles, Slim Whitman, Henry Mancini, and Frank Ifield. Well, it just goes to show you.

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