Skylark (song)

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Songwriter(s)Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael

"Skylark" is an American popular song with lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Hoagy Carmichael, published in 1941.[1]


Carmichael wrote the melody, based on a Bix Beiderbecke cornet improvisation, as "Bix Licks", for a project to turn the novel Young Man With a Horn into a Broadway musical. After that project failed, Carmichael brought in Johnny Mercer to write lyrics for the song.[2] Mercer said that he struggled for a year after he got the music from Carmichael before he could get the lyrics right.[3] Mercer recalled that Carmichael initially called him several times about the lyrics but had forgotten about the song by the time Mercer finally wrote them.[4] The yearning expressed in the lyrics was based on Mercer's longing for Judy Garland, with whom he had an affair.[5]

Several artists recorded charting versions of the song in 1942, including the Glenn Miller Orchestra (vocal by Ray Eberle), Harry James and His Orchestra (vocal by Helen Forrest), Dinah Shore, and Bing Crosby.[6] The Glenn Miller recording on RCA Bluebird peaked at no. 7 on the Billboard pop singles chart.

This song is considered a jazz standard.[7] Additionally, it is believed to have inspired a long-running Buick car of the same name that was produced from 1953 to 1998.[8]

Cover versions[edit]

Year Performer(s)
2002 Beegie AdairCentennial Composers Collection
1961 Tony BennettTony Sings for Two
1962 Art Blakey with Freddie HubbardCaravan[9]
1956 Hoagy Carmichael with Art PepperHoagy Sings Carmichael[9]
2019 Kate Ceberano and Paul GrabowskyTryst
2001 Bill CharlapStardust
2016 Kristin ChenowethThe Art of Elegance
1987 Rosemary ClooneyRosemary Clooney Sings the Lyrics of Johnny Mercer
1966 Sonny Criss "Skylark" This is Criss Prestige Records (21Oct1966)
1942 Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra.[10] This also charted in 1942 reaching a peak position of No.14.[11]
1961 Bobby DarinLove Swings
1974 Paul DesmondSkylark
2016 Bob DylanFallen Angels
1964 Ella FitzgeraldElla Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Song Book
1960 The Fleetwoods
1963 Aretha FranklinLaughing on the Outside
1949 Erroll Garner
1977 Dexter GordonBiting the Apple
2021 Taylor Eigsti with Casey Abrams - Tree Falls
2003 Steve HassTraveler
1942 Earl Hines with Billy Eckstine[9]
2015 Stevie HollandLife Goes On
2009 Mark Isham and Kate CeberanoBittersweet
1941 Harry James with Helen Forrest.[4][9] This reached No. 11 on the Billboard charts in 1942.[12]
1997 k.d. langMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Soundtrack
2003 Abbey LincolnIt's Me
2011 Chuck Loeb, featuring Lizzy Loeb, vocals – Plain 'n' Simple
1981 Susannah McCorkleThe Songs of Johnny Mercer
1958 Carmen McRaeBirds of a Feather
1973 Bette MidlerBette Midler
1942 Glenn Miller and His Orchestra with vocals by Ray Eberle in 1942,[9][1] rising to No. 7 on the charts.[13]
1962 Matt MonroSings Hoagy Carmichael
2004 Marion MontgomerySkylark
1961 David "Fathead" NewmanStraight Ahead
1941 Anita O'Day with the Gene Krupa Orchestra recorded the song on November 25, 1941.[14]
2010 Gregory PorterWater
2010 Sue Raney - Listen Here
1996 María RivasMuaré
1984 Linda Ronstadt with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra – Lush Life. Ronstadt's version was nominated for a Grammy Award.
1977 Jimmy Rowles and Stan GetzThe Peacocks
1942 Dinah Shore recorded February 10, 1942 for Bluebird[15] This reached the No. 5 spot in the Billboard charts.[16]
1941 Ginny Simms with the Edgar Fairchild Orchestra (18 December 1941).
1950 Mel Tormé with Pete Rugolo and His Orchestra
1995 Cassandra WilsonNew Moon Daughter[9]
2022 Chano Domínguez and Antonio LizanaEstándares (with Spanish lyrics adapted by the singer Antonio Lizana)
2008 Rachael Price - The Good Hours


  1. ^ a b "Johnny Mercer's Songs on CD", Ralph Mitchell,, June 2009, webpage: JM-ralph Archived 2009-10-29 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Bix & Hoagy: Midwestern Romantics of the Jazz Age". The Jim Cullum Riverwalk Jazz Collection. Stanford University. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  3. ^ Wilk, Max (1997). They're Playing Our Song. New York: Da Capo.
  4. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854. Tape 1, side A.
  5. ^ Furia, Philip (2003). Skylark: The Life and Times of Johnny Mercer (1st ed.). St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-28720-7.
  6. ^ "Hoagy Carmichael ··· Top Songs as Writer". Music VF.
  7. ^ Wilder, Alec (1990). American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900–1950. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
  8. ^ Dennis Adler (2004), Fifties Flashback: The American Car, p. 52, ISBN 0760319278, The flighty name for Buick's dream car came from a song of the same name recorded in 1942 by Johnny Mercer
  9. ^ a b c d e f Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. New York City: Oxford University Press. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  10. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". A Bing Crosby Discography. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890–1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 109. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890–1954. Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 579. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890–1954. Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 312. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  14. ^ Malcolm Laycock presents the Golden Age of Swing detailed track info (90511).
  15. ^ "The Online Discographical Project". Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890–1954. Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 388. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.

External links[edit]