"Moon River and Me" @MarkSteynOnline '09 essay on Johnny Mercer alone worth the price of book
So, with a tip of the hat to Hugh, we dusted off part one of our Johnny Mercer centenary audio salute from five years ago. Well, we couldn't think of a better way to close out the first week of Mark's book launch than with the second part of that centenary tribute. Steyn and Hewitt spent three hours on the radio together last week, discussing the new book's content, both serious and less so, And in the course of those hours together Hugh again brought up Mark's essay on Johnny Mercer:
HUGH HEWITT: It's just a beautiful piece of writing, Mark. And I loved your little touch of the personal, which is not often in your writing, about your country club experience with "Moon River".
MARK STEYN: Yes, when I was - many, many years ago, I was 18 or 19, I took a girl I adored to a country club dance I couldn't really afford, which as you know is never a good idea.
MS: ...particularly if you're hoping the evening will work out well with the lady in question, because you're like just incredibly nervous about it. Because you're trying to be smooth - "Well, what would you care to drink, darling?" - terrified that she's going to do more than just order the cheapest items on the menu. And the master of ceremonies announced a competition. And to win you had to answer a very simple question, and the question was how wide is Moon River? And of course, I immediately jumped up and said, as the song says, "wider than a mile". And we won a magnum of champagne, and the waiters were fawning on us. And it was just the best, it was just the best night. And as you say, I don't write about personal things terribly often - because it's often not of interest to people. But I always loved the way just knowing that one silly little bit of song lyric just transformed that evening into a magical evening for me.
These SteynOnline audio specials were first broadcast to mark the one hundredth anniversary of his birth, on November 18th 1909 in Savannah, Georgia. You can hear the first part of our centenary podcast here - and here from a month later in 2009 is Part Two, which includes such classic songs as "Fools Rush In", "Summer Wind", "I Remember You", "Skylark", "Come Rain Or Come Shine", "Day In, Day Out" plus the ornithological Johnny Mercer, the seasonal Johnny Mercer, and some great saloon songs - sung by Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Bobby Darin, Eydie Gorme, Willie Nelson, Nancy LaMott, Frank Ifield, Bow Wow Wow plus lots of Sinatra singing and lots of Mercer singing, too. Simply press play up above - and be singing along within seconds.
Part One introduces the Mercer catalogue with "Moon River", "Jeepers Creepers", "Too Marvelous For Words", "Ac-Cen-Tchu-Ate The Positive", "That Old Black Magic" and many more sung by the likes of Billie Holiday, Fred Astaire, k d lang, Louis Armstrong, Rita Hayworth, the Mills Brothers, Rosemary Clooney, Clint Eastwood and more.
"Moon River And Me", Mark's essay on Mercer, appears in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, which is published this week in the US and Canada. You can buy it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in America, or Indigo-Chapters, Amazon and McNally-Robinson north of the border. Or, for instant gratification, get it in eBook - in Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks.
And join us Sunday at SteynOnline for Steyn's Song of the Week.