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Johnny Mercer

Brooklyn, Blintzes, Baseball and Ballads With Johnny Mercer

Michael Sigman | Posted 09.17.2014 | Entertainment
Michael Sigman

Rae Sigman, Carl's strong-willed mother, was proud of her son's ability to navigate Beethoven sonatas and improvise pop tunes at the piano. But when he turned 21 and declared his intention to make a living as a songwriter, Rae gave him two choices: doctor or lawyer.

First Nighter: Eric Comstock, Gabrielle Stravelli Light Up Cabaret

David Finkle | Posted 08.26.2014 | Arts
David Finkle

Cabaret is alive and not quite yet reduced to gasping for breath in New York City.

First Nighter: 'Piece of My Heart: The Bert Berns Story' Works Piecemeal

David Finkle | Posted 09.20.2014 | Arts
David Finkle

Perhaps an argument could be made that the songs are so strong they represent emotions at moments of great joy or stress, delight or disappointment. But it's not a very persuasive argument. The more convincing contention is that Berns was a songwriter who wanted to produce as many commercial songs as he could and knew that powerful love songs were the most obvious way to go.

Easy Listener: 5 You-Gotta-Have CDS From Five You-Must-Know Women

David Finkle | Posted 08.05.2014 | Entertainment
David Finkle

If you like great songs -- not necessarily great songs you already know -- and you like women delivering them, here are CDs that you'd be extremely foolish to think you can live without:

First Nighter": A Feeble "Fable," A Lively "So, This Then is Life"

David Finkle | Posted 07.22.2014 | Arts
David Finkle

When Chandra (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) slips happily through an upstage door to smell the trellis roses at the start of A Fable, David Van Asselt's new play at the Cherry Lane, it's the extremely naïve theater-goer who won't immediately guess that the young girl's innocent joy isn't going to last much longer.

First Nighter: Mary Martin Let Down in Inventing Mary Martin

David Finkle | Posted 06.27.2014 | Arts
David Finkle

Somehow it should seem appropriate that Inventing Mary Martin is as corny as Kansas in August. But the kind of corniness prevalent in conceiver-writer Stephen Cole's revue, at the York, tributing one of Broadway's great musical comedy leading ladies, is never welcome.

The Way We Are: A Conversation with Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Chatting with Artifact's Jared Leto, and an Angels Sing Exclusive

Mike Ragogna | Posted 02.22.2014 | Entertainment
Mike Ragogna

When did Alan and Marilyn Bergman become such an establishment in the world of music? Find out here.

First Nighter: Bacharach Revue Awkwardly Asks 'What's It All About?' -- Steve Tyrell Smoothly Answers

David Finkle | Posted 02.04.2014 | Arts
David Finkle

Truth is, Tyrell's effortlessly infallible phrasing has the effect of making what he does appealingly conversational. The emotion he's experiencing is a component of his seemingly off-handed -- smile-smile-smile -- style. Let's just say he's singing for all generations.

License To Philosophize, Sinatra-style

Michael Sigman | Posted 07.01.2013 | Fifty
Michael Sigman

When you reach a certain age and no longer have a job where large numbers of people are incentivized to laugh at your jokes, moments arise when you wo...

A Rock and a Hard Place

Irene Tanner | Posted 11.26.2012 | Healthy Living
Irene Tanner

"Something's Gotta Give" happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object, as described in the lyrics of the same name by Johnny Mercer. T...

Accentuate the Positive

George Heymont | Posted 10.01.2012 | Arts
George Heymont

A collection of shorts from this year's San Francisco International Film Festival demonstrates what can happen when people steer their thoughts in a positive, rather than negative direction.

Set 'Em Up Somewhere Else, Joe: Why I'm Through With P.J. Clarke's

Tony Sachs | Posted 09.02.2012 | New York
Tony Sachs

I was ten years old, during the height of the disco era, when my father first took me to the nondescript two-story building on 55th and 3rd for burger...

Howie Richmond (1917-2012): Music Publishing Pioneer With a Big Heart

Michael Sigman | Posted 07.28.2012 | Entertainment
Michael Sigman

You may not know the name Howie Richmond, but without him, it's likely you'd have never gotten to know the music of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lead Belly and many other essential figures in American and European popular music.

She Laughs Alone: 12 Things About Mom

Michael Sigman | Posted 07.14.2012 | Parents
Michael Sigman

A neighbor once came knocking with daughter it tow, asking mom if said daughter could come in and watch my dad write a song. Mom explained, "He does most of his writing on the john."

Gil Evans' Centennial Tribute, Plus a Conversation With John Pizzarelli and Jon Cleary's Video Exclusive

Mike Ragogna | Posted 07.13.2012 | Entertainment
Mike Ragogna

John Pizzarelli: Favorite album of all time? ... Abbey Road is pretty close to the top of the list. It's funny. You could say Abbey Road or you could say In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning, because they're the types of records you put on and say, 'Oh, I'll just listen to one or two tracks.'

First Nighter: End of the Rainbow Disses Judy Garland Bigtime

David Finkle | Posted 06.02.2012 | Entertainment
David Finkle

Does director Terry Johnson see to it that Bennett delivers a terrifyingly manic version of "Come Rain or Come Shine" supposed to mimic Garland at her hopped-up worst? What do you think?

SHOF/PBS Chats: Billy Joel, Jimmy Jam, Jimmy Webb, Garth Brooks, Allan Toussaint, Dwight Yoakum, Hal David, Paul Williams...

Mike Ragogna | Posted 02.29.2012 | Entertainment
Mike Ragogna

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to exchange a few words with many terrific songwriters and artists ranging from Billy Joel and Garth Brooks to Jimmy Jam and Jimmy Webb and even an exec or two as they that walked the red carpet at the Songwriters Hall Of Fame awards show.

Pam Tent: Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat: Why San Francisco Is It for Me

Red Room | Posted 10.31.2011 | San Francisco
Red Room

Overwhelmed by high rents and the stressful pace, I sometimes wonder why I stay here. Then I unexpectedly uncover a San Francisco treasure.

Bruce Ricker/Jazz Foundation of America -- Keeping the Spirit Alive

Regina Weinreich | Posted 07.22.2011 | Entertainment
Regina Weinreich

Jazz lost one of its own last week, with the death of Bruce Ricker. Not a player per se, Ricker, a lawyer with a passion for jazz assembled Jay McShan...

Dog Ears Music: The Leftovers/What's to Eat? Playlist

The Everlasting Phil Ramone and Danielle Evin | Posted 05.25.2011 | Entertainment
The Everlasting Phil Ramone and Danielle Evin

This week, we feature music by Iggy Pop, Sean Hayes, The Leftovers, Joanna Newsom, Donna Summer, Oppenheimer and more.

Dog Ears Music: Born In November Playlist

The Everlasting Phil Ramone and Danielle Evin | Posted 05.25.2011 | Entertainment
The Everlasting Phil Ramone and Danielle Evin

Neil Young Buy: iTunes.com Genre: Rock Song: Walk With Me Album: Le Noise (Deluxe Version) Björk Buy: iTunes.com ...

Songwriters Hall Of Fame Finds a Home

Michael Sigman | Posted 05.25.2011 | Entertainment
Michael Sigman

Most songwriters, even successful ones, toil alone or with a single collaborator. To call them unsung would be oxymoronic, but with a few exceptions t...

A Hotel, a Phone Number and a Son

Michael Sigman | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Michael Sigman

The 15 Penn Plaza plan will bring down the legendary Hotel Pennsylvania. The hotel, built in 1919, has a rich history, an essential part of which is bound up with my father's first hit as a songwriter.

Easy Listener: Why You Should Know Singer Joyce Breach

David Finkle | Posted 05.25.2011 | Entertainment
David Finkle

There's a world-class pop singer you may not know about but absolutely should. She's Joyce Breach, who's been hiding her mellow light under lucky urban bushes.

First-Nighter: The Maude-like, Un-Maude-like Maude Maggart

David Finkle | Posted 05.25.2011 | Entertainment
David Finkle

What's truly appealing about Maude Maggart is that what you initially see--and hear--isn't what you eventually get. She fools you seven ways to Sunday and plainly gets a kick out of it.