Skylark was written in 1941 by Hoagy Carmichael and Friday Cocktail Hour semi-regular Johnny Mercer. The featured image captures Ginger and Johhny Mercer on the town with Hoagy and Ruth Carmichael. Hoagy appears to be feeling no pain. Party on Hoagy. Party on, Johnny.
Carmichael based the music on a Bix Beiderbecke cornet improvisation. Mercer struggled with the lyrics for nearly a year before striking gold. It was worth the effort: It’s a great song and one of my personal favorites.
My Peninsula homey Bing Crosby had the first radio hit with Skylark:
I shouldn’t play favorites but Ella Fitzgerald’s version *is* my favorite. What can I tell ya?
Like your humble blogger, George Benson is a huge Count Basie fan. He recorded an entire album with Basie’s big band including the Carmichael-Mercer classic that’s the subject of this week’s post.
KD Lang cut Skylark for the soundtrack of the Clint Eastwood directed movie, Midnight In The Garden Of Good and Evil. It’s a true story set in Johnny Mercer’s hometown of Savannah, Georgia.
Most versions of Skylark are flute-heavy making it inevitable that Cleo Laine and the great classical flautist James Galway would record it. It’s unclear if the Irish flautist likes flautas. Has anyone thought to ask?
Boz Scaggs’ version of Skylark was recorded with a small group as opposed to the lush arrangements featured in other interpretations.
That’s six versions and counting. It may seem like overkill, but I would remiss if I didn’t include one from co-writer Hoagy Carmichael.
What would a Friday Cocktail Hour be without a Jazz instrumental version of the week’s selection? This time, legendary sax man Sonny Rollins:
That’s it for this week. Pour yourself a shot and toast Spring’s arrival. It’s what Johnny and Hoagy would want. Never argue with them.