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A scion of an important Savannah family that had lost its fortune, he became a successful Hollywood songwriter (his primary partners included Harold Arlen and Jerome Kern), a hit recording artist, and, as co-founder of Capitol Records, a successful businessman, but he remained forever nostalgic for his idealized childhood (with his “huckleberry friend”). A gentleman, a nasty drunk, funny, tender, melancholic, tormented—Mercer was a man immensely talented yet plagued by
self-doubt, much admired and loved but never really understood.
In music historian and songwriter Gene Lees, Mercer has his perfect biographer, who deals tactfully but directly with Mercer’s complicated relationships with his domineering mother; his tormenting wife, Ginger; and Judy Garland, who was the great love of his life. Lees’s highly personal examination of Mercer’s life is sensitive as only the work of a friend of many years could be to the conflicts in Mercer’s nature. And it is filled with insights into Mercer’s work that could come only from a fellow lyricist (whose own lyrics were much admired by Mercer).
A poignant, candid, revelatory portrait of Johnny.
From the Hardcover edition.