Come Rain or Come Shine -- The Songs of Johnny Mercer
If you’ve followed vocalists over the years, you may have heard of Nancy LaMott. And if you listen to Jonathan Schwartz’s weekend radio program on WNYC in New York or on Sirius XM radio, you know that the very last song of each program is sung by Nancy.
Listening to her is always an emotional experience for me. Even though I’ve heard a song interpreted by numerous vocalists, it’s always Nancy’s version that I find the definitive one. When Nancy sings the lyrics, it’s as if I’m really hearing them for the first time. She gave everything she had to a song, both musically and emotionally; she held nothing back.
Another reason to feel emotional about Nancy is that she died at age 43, in 1995, when she was just starting to “make it.” Her last CD was recorded live at Tavern on the Green in New York City, just three weeks before her death.
Choosing my favorite Nancy LaMott songs is a daunting task, but here are a few: “Skylark” from “Beautiful Baby,” her first CD; “My Foolish Heart” from the CD of the same name; “Listen to My Heart” and “Ordinary Miracles” from “Listen to My Heart.”
“Come Rain or Come Shine: Songs of Johnny Mercer” is a particularly notable CD. It’s very timely now because all year we’ve been celebrating the centennial of Mercer’s birth. And the combination of incredible vocals and instrumentals makes this CD especially worthwhile. Listen to “Talk to Me Baby” and “When October Goes”, and you hear vocal/instrumental duets!
I must mention two very important men in Nancy’s musical life. Christopher Marlowe was Nancy’s piano accompanist and arranger. What a perfect duo they made! And David Friedman was crucial on so many levels to Nancy’s career. First of all, he produced all of her CDs; it was David who originally convinced Nancy to record her music. In addition, many of her most famous songs were written by David: “Listen to My Heart”, “We Live on Borrowed Time”, and “I’ll Be Here with You.” Finally, in 2007 David produced a two-disc CD, “Ask Me Again,” which is a compilation of her memorable songs. Many of the songs on this CD were recorded in Atlantic City, New Jersey. David has truly kept Nancy’s music alive.
If you know Nancy and her music, you’ll understand my passion for her. And if you haven’t yet heard her, I hope this will tempt you. To hear some of Nancy’s songs, go to my YouTube channel, and click on the samples.