Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Today’s Camp Quiz Circa 1940-50s: Portrait of Johnny.

Johnny Mercer [1909-1976], born in Savannah, was the troubadour of the 1940-`50s and my favorite songster-wordsmith. He captured the southern idiom, black and white, writing unforgettable words, sometimes composing great music and also as a recording vocalist for his songs. He had a kind of world-weary Frank Sinatra caste to him. Perhaps you must be in my age group to compete in this quiz, but we’ll see (tell me if you’re younger and win!). One day Johnny caught an oration by Father Divine, a black evangelist and produced his words in a song that rocked the nation.

You’ve got to Ac-cent-tschu-ate the positive/ ee-lim-in-nate the negative/ latch on to the affirmative…

Complete the last line, please.

Mercer was in love for a lifetime with that irrepressibly screwed-up druggie and alcoholic Judy Garland notwithstanding they were married to different people (Judy having a yen for gay men, astoundingly). This is a song he secretly dedicated to her.

That old black magic has me in its spell/ that old black magic that you weave so well/ those icy fingers up and down my spine/ the same old ____________ when your eyes meet mine.

Supply the missing word.

Finally, when it became clear they would never be together again, he wrote

This torch that I’ve found/ must be drowned/ or it soon might explode/ Make it one for my baby and _________________________.

Supply the missing phrase. If you can complete all three you qualify as an unredeemable square and old fogy.


  1. 1. "Don't mess with Mister In-Between"

    from, Ac-cent-tschu-ate The Positive

    2. "witchcraft"
    from, "That Old Black Magic"

    3. "and one more for the road."
    from "One for My Baby"

    All sung and recorded by Frank Sinatra

    By the way, I was born in '53.

  2. 1. "don't mess with Mr. In-between."

    2. "witchcraft."

    3. "one more for the road."

    P.S. I am only 69 years old --

  3. #1....and don't mess with Mr. Inbetween
    #3....and one more for the road.
    You can't fool me about Johnny Mercer!
    I was 16 in 1941. Ha! (See you at St. John Cantius!)