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Thread: SINGS THE SELECT JOHNNY MERCER (1963/1995) (plus Sinatra-Mercer Songindex)

  1. #21

    The Origins of "Summer Wind"

    There was an „anniversary“ these days in the Sinatra Calendar, of a recording that became one of Frank Sinatras best-known song staples, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

    On May 16, 1966, he recorded „Summer Wind“ to a now legendary Nelson Riddle arrangement, to be released that same month on the album „Strangers In The Night“. Backed by the Live-at-The-Sands-recording of „You Make Me Feel So Young“, Reprise also released the song as a single (Reprise 0509), that charted in early September 1966 and made it to #25 within a seven-weeks-stay.
    Sinatra wouldn’t start to perform it live regularly until twenty years later, but from 1986 onwards, „Summer Wind“ became a trademark FS concert staple, including a (Sinatra-vocally) poignant studio remake for Capitol in July 1993 (forget about the concocted Iglesias duet – the solo vocal is brilliant).

    I’m picking this up because as famous as the song has become through Sinatra, usually very little is mentioned about the song’s origins, which lead back to Germany, and in fact also have a connection to my present home town area, Nuremberg!

    Born Grethe Clemmensen on June 17, 1938, Grethe Ingmann, which was her name after marrying Jazz guitarist Jorgen Ingmann (*1925) in 1956, became one of Denmark’s most prolific singers in the late 50s and early 60s, being dubbed „The Danish Ella Fitzgerald“ by the critics. Standards aside, together with her husband she also embarked on several experimental studio recordings following what the US duo of Les Paul & Mary Ford were doing at the time, using multiple overdubbing techniques to achieve a certain vocal effect. The duo cuts aside, Grethe Ingmann also recorded solo successfully, and in 1963 she won the annual European Song Contest (Grand Prix d’Eurovision de la Chanson) with „Dansevise“ aka „Der Sommer ging vorüber“, a Jazzy waltz number. Having divorced Jorgen in 1975, Grethe retired from singing in the mid-80s, and died early, after a brave battle with cancer, on August 18, 1990.

    Grethe Ingmann 1938-1990

    For the annual German Song Festival („Deutsche Schlagerfestspiele“), in 1965 she entered contest with a new composition called „Der Sommerwind“ (= „The Summer Wind“), which at the same time she also recorded in a Danish version. Both recordings appeared on the Metronome label (the German version on Metronome 45 M-490).

    Original 45rpm single cover for „Sommerwind“, 1965

    The music for „Sommerwind“ had been composed by Heinz Meier (= Henry Mayer), who was born November 18, 1925 in Nuremberg, and who had had several national hits in the post-WW2 Germany, with songs like „Memories Of Heidelberg“ or „(Oh Pardon) Sind Sie der Graf von Luxemburg?“.

    The German lyrics for „Sommerwind“ were penned by Hans Bradtke (1920-1997), who had started as an architect before entering songwriting business after the war. With several hundreds of lyrics he then became one of Germany’s most prolific songwriters, his songs and chansons being sung by artists like Marlene Dietrich. Much similar to Johnny Mercer’s activities for ASCAP and the National Academy/Songwriters Hall Of Fame in the US, Bradtke took various positions with GEMA (sort of German ASCAP equivalent) and other music business organisations. He was later awarded with the highest civil honour of Germany, the Bundesverdienstkreuz.

    Hans Bradtke 1920-1997

    At that song contest in 1965, Grethe Ingmann‘s recording of „Sommerwind“ flopped – but it was to become a world-wide hit when covered by you-know-who... the first step towards that being the great Johnny Mercer (1909-1976) writing an English lyric to it.
    Mercer and Bradtke had been „paired“ so to speak several times before, through Mercer doing English translations of Bradtke lyrics, and vice versa. Further international fame for „Sommerwind“ came when Peggy March recorded it in German language just a few months after Ingmann’s release, with Mayer’s orchestra.

    In the US, Wayne Newton was the first to cover the song with the new English Johnny Mercer lyrics. But it was on May 16, 1966, that Nelson Riddle & Frank Sinatra would record the version that eventually made „Summer Wind“ a globally hummed evergreen melody and song. The gently swinging chart, which today remains one of the most-often played Sinatra recordings, featured Artie Kane at the organ.
    And when „The Voice“ finally picked it up regularly for his concerts from 1986 onwards, it became a most welcome staple of Harvest Sinatra. Including all five shows of the German tour of 1993, when for the last time, Sinatra brought back the song to the country of its origin.

    And so to this date, Sinatra world starts humming whenever those lines are heard:
    The summer wind
    came blowin‘ in
    from across the sea...



    SUMMER WIND [Der Sommerwind]
    Music: Heinz Meier [=Henry Mayer]
    Original German lyrics: Hans Bradtke (1965)
    English lyrics: Johnny Mercer (1965)
    [Original German version: Grethe Ingman, 1965 (Metronome)]


    REPRISE-Studio Recording, May 16, 1966, Hollywood
    Arrangement: Nelson Riddle
    Orchestra conducted by Nelson Riddle:
    Pete Candoli, Don Fagerquist, Cappy (=Carroll) Lewis, Ray Triscari (trumpet); Dick Noel, Tommy Pederson, Tom Shephard (trombone); George Roberts (bass trombone); Chuck Gentry, Bill Green, Justin Gordon, Harry Klee, Abe Most (saxophone, woodwinds); Victor Arno, Ralph Schaeffer, Paul Shure, Victor Bay, Israel Baker, Alex Beller, Hermann Clebanoff, James Getzoff, Anatol Kaminsky (violin); Barbara Simons, Paul Robyn (viola); Justin di Tullio, Elizabeth Greenschpoon, Armand Kaproff (violoncello); Bill Miller (piano); Artie Kane (organ); Al Viola (guitar); Ralph Pena (bass); Irving Cottler (drums); Victor Feldman (percussion).

    CAPITOL-Studio Recording, July 6, 1993, Hollywood, Capitol Tower, Studio A
    Arrangement: Nelson Riddle (1966)
    Orchestra conducted by Patrick Williams:
    Frank Szabo, Robert O’Donnell Jr., Conte Candoli, Oscar Brashear (trumpet); Dick Nash, George Bohanon, Dick Hyde (trombone); George Roberts (bass trombone); Tom Scott, Richard Mitchell, Bob Cooper, Gene Cipriano, Jack Nimitz (saxophone, woodwinds); Gerald Vinci, Harris Goldman, Joseph Goodman, Diana Halprin, Mari Botnick, Ralph Morrison, Don Palmer, Patricia Aiken, Patricia Johnson, Karen Jones, Ann Koons, Michael Ferril (violin); Carole Mukogawa, Denyse Buffum, Kenneth Burward-Hoy (viola); Gloria Strassner, Anne Goodman, Michael Matthews (violoncello); Gayle Levant (harp); Bill Miller (piano); Ron Anthony (guitar); Chuck Berghofer (bass); Gregg Field (drums); Emil Richards, Jerry Williams (percussion).
    Duet Vocals by Julio Iglesias: Recorded July 19, 1993, in Miami
    Additional strings: Recorded August 6, 1993, in Los Angeles, Westlake Studios
    String section conducted by Patrick Williams:
    Assa Drori, Robert Sanov, Michael Markman, Gordon Marron, Joy Lyle, Murray Adler, Brian Leonard, Kwihee Shamban (violin)

  2. #22
    Perry Como also recorded a version of "The Summer Wind" in the mid-60's that was not released until 1993.

  3. Bing Crosby recorded it on his last album, "Seasons." Mercer also recorded it on one of his two final albums.

  4. #24
    Summer Wind was meant for Frank Sinatra.
    No one has ever done it better. I can almost feel the breeze blow when he sings it.

  5. #25

  6. #26
    I just love Johnny Mercer and Frank's recordings thanks again Bernhard for this thread.


  7. #27
    Originally posted by Swoonergirl
    Summer Wind was meant for Frank Sinatra.
    No one has ever done it better. I can almost feel the breeze blow when he sings it.
    I am with you on that one Mel. Let me also say that Mercer was a great composer and lyricist and this particular album is a marvellous collection of songs, which I had first acquired back in the very early 1970's when the world was young. 'Blues In the Night' is really something. In fact the whole selection is really first rate and every song is a winner.

  8. #28
    Deserves to be bumped back into view.

  9. #29
    What a fantastic contribution to this forum! Wish there were such highly documented monographies for each song Frank ever sang!

  10. #30
    Thanks Bernhard. With the coming of summer here this is a good time to read this fascinating story. I'm heading to the beach this weekend and this will be a good soundtrack!

    With every change of the seasons my mind always goes to the Sinatra songs that will best capture that exhilarating feeling of a new season. This is definitely one of summer's best!

  11. Yesterday we recorded a show for Sinatra 75 that includes a tribute to Johnny Mercer. He made history in more ways than composing and singing. He left his mark in a big way with Capitol Records and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. What a guy!

  12. #32
    He was a brilliant song writer and Frank recorded some of the best.

    I love the album Johnny Mercer did with Bobby Darin Two Of A Kind.

  13. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Tina View Post
    I love the album Johnny Mercer did with Bobby Darin Two Of A Kind.
    So do I, it's a great album.
    "Could start for the corner... turn up in Spain... why try to change me now..."

  14. I love the combination of Frank and Johnny Mercer

    I visited Johnny Mercer's grave in Savannah, Georgia. Song lyrics are on his gravestone. It's an amazing place to visit. I didn't know about all these albums, and they interest me very much.

    Thanks for compiling.
    She loves the theatre but never comes late That's why the Lady is a Tramp.

  15. #35
    Very interesting background story about The Summer Wind! Love that song.
    When You're Here, It's Family
    Twitter: @GijLyons

  16. #36

    Johnny Mercer will appear in both Fort Myers

    and Naples this year.
    LEATRICE (LEE) Fort Myers, Florida, USA
    Sinatra, Sinatra,Sinatra! Pray for Robin!

  17. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by ARIES3032 View Post
    Johnny Mercer will appear in both Fort Myers and Naples this year.
    Lee, what do you mean? Johnny Mercer died in 1976.

  18. #38
    When You're Here, It's Family
    Twitter: @GijLyons

  19. #39

    "Empty Tables"

    Quote Originally Posted by Edwin View Post
    Lee, what do you mean? Johnny Mercer died in 1976.
    I remember seeing Mr. S several times during his Summer tour that year. His saloon song of choice was "Empty Tables" which was the final song Mr. Mercer ever wrote. Frank told some wonderfully funny and poignant stories about his longtime friendship with Mr. Mercer. Each performance with solo piano was very emotional.

  20. #40
    Is Mercer bringing Bing or Bobby Darin with him?