Conversation: Robert Kimball, Author of ‘Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer’

BY Arts Desk  November 19, 2009 at 3:00 PM EDT

'The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer'On Wednesday, prolific songwriter and singer Johnny Mercer would have turned 100. In his lifetime, he worked with more than 200 collaborators and churned out lyrics for more than 1,500 songs for both Broadway and the silver screen, which were made famous by stars like Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Louis Armstrong. He was also a founder of recording label Capitol Records.

To celebrate the anniversary, a new complete collection of Mercer’s lyrics has just been published. One of the scholars who worked on that collection, Robert Kimball, spoke with me by phone from New York about Mercer’s legacy and the project.

For more on Mercer, check out this story from NPR Music.

And here’s “Moon River,” one of Johnny Mercer’s most famous songs (with music by Henry Mancini), sung by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” for which he won an Academy Award: