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The majestic Paulette Attie...What she said and what she wrote...in her own words...

It was the mid 1960's and I was a new kid on the block. In this case, the block was the sidewalks of New York, and I had my own radio show, Paulette Attiie's Musical Playbill on WNYC AM and FM. I was thrilled, because the show was on my two favorite subjects: music and the theatre. I knew from the start that I wanted to interview Johnny Mercer, but he was then living in Los Angeles. My parents conveniently lived in L.A., so I packed up my reel to reel tape recorder and got myself to L.A. I taped some other musical legends while in L.A. - Gene Kelly, Jimmy Mc. Hugh, John Green , but Johnny was the only one I invited to my parents home for our taping. I thought my parents would enjoy meeting him as well, and sure enough, my mother, father and Johnny got along like they were old friends. You couldn't ask for a more congenial and engaging person to interview. He shared many stories about his early days, his work habits and his thoughts about songwriting. These insights should be in a textbook for aspiring songwriters.

Johnny told the story about going to a Theatre Guild audition for a review being put together called The Garrick Gaieties. He found out that they were looking for songs, so he wrote "Out of Breath and Scared to Death" the night after his audition, presented it the next day, and as he put it, "they put the song, in the show instead of me." When I asked him how he was able to come up with a song that quickly, he said, "When you're young and when you're hungry, you can accomplish an awful lot." We later spoke about the wide breadth and range of his songs, from "Dearly Beloved" to "Accentuate the Positive." He believed a well rounded songwriter has to be able to write every kind of song. When I asked him about "That Old Black Magic," he generously credited Cole Porter, saying the Porter lyric, "Do do that voo doo that you do so well," always appealed to him and was a source of inspiration for "That Old Black Magic." Great source and great results, I'd say. On each of my radio shows, I sang a song by the guest being interviewed. "I Wanna Be Around" was my choice for our first  interview, and "I Wonder What Became of Me" was my choice for the second  show. Johnny graciously complimented my renditions of his songs. But I considered his subsequent visits to me in New York an even greater compliment. We spoke about, you guessed it, lyrics and music.

One time, he talked about writing down song ideas right away when they come to you. To paraphrase his reason, he said, if you think of it, the vibrations are already in the air, and if you let time pass, someone else might pick up the idea and write it down before you do. Johnny was any easy going, "Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home" kind of guy, yet he was diligent and meticulous about his work. And then, as Julius La Rosa mentions in his article about Johnny, -there were those wonderful annual Christmas cards, which included uplifting poems and pictures of him with Ginger. I had many outstanding guests on, Paulette Attie's Musical Playbill: Johnny, Harold Arlen, Burton Lane, Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields, Mary Rodgers, "Yip" Harburg, to name a few, but Johnny was the most fun of them all.