December 3, 2015

#7: May swings Mercer

"Day In, Day Out" is one of the great tracks from the great album Come Dance With Me, recorded in the swingin' late '50s and arranged by the uber-swingin' Billy May.

It was a couple of decades earlier when Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom first asked these musical questions:

Can't you see it's love?
Can there be any doubt?
Let's see, a pounding heart and tingles at the thought of her. Well, yes, actually, I can think of something else that could cause that, but let's ignore that for now and revel in this exuberant evocation of new love or infatuation or whatever you want to call it, because it's three minutes and fifteen seconds of awesome:

Sometimes the smallest Frankism can add so much. His addition of "on" to "Come rain, come on shine" always makes me smile.

Mark Steyn hasn't written about this song yet but he covers it in part two of his audio tribute to Johnny Mercer, One For The Road, starting about 14 minutes in. At about 18 minutes in Mark plays part of a very lovely ballad version of DIDO arranged by Axel Stordahl that wasn't released, Mark reports, until the late 1980s.

I don't want to leave out the wonderful live version from Sinatra and Sextet Live in Paris in which Frank juices it up even more with some extra intensifiers and a very Frankish change of verb:
Then I grab your lips
And the pounding becomes
A very large ocean's roar
Just about nine thousand drums

"Day In, Day Out" is the eighth song (so far) from Come Dance With Me, the eighth song written by Johnny Mercer (so far), and the nineteenth song arranged by Billy May (yes, so far), to make my list. There will be one more to come from each of them.

Frank's birthday is on December 12th, when I'll wind it all up with my #1 favorite. Prepare to be disappointed. It's very unlikely that it's your favorite. I see that it didn't make Bob Belvedere's list at all, and Mark hasn't covered it yet and very well may not. But I love it.


Mark Steyn comments:
No disgrace in that. Introducing her old friend at the Royal Festival Hall in 1970, Princess Grace of Monaco marveled: "How many of us have a favorite Sinatra song! And how many of them are different songs!" There are Sinatra fans who love just the hits, and Sinatra fans who loathe the hits - "My Way", "Strangers In The Night", "New York, New York". There are Sinatra fans who love the swingers but are bored by the ballads - and vice-versa. I once heard the BBC's venerable Hubert Gregg, hosting a show on the unparalleled genius of Sinatra, linger lovingly over every aspect of the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey and Columbia days and then, just as I was looking forward to hearing what he had to say about Nelson Riddle, the show ended: as Gregg saw it, Sinatra's voice began to deteriorate in 1953, and nothing thereafter was worth bothering with. Each to his own. Frank's respective bodies of work with his principal arrangers - Stordahl, Riddle, May, Jenkins, Costa - would be more than enough to fill a greatest hits album. 
No other recording artist comes close to Sinatra's accomplishment.

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