The song of the day for Wednesday, July 31, 2014 is “I Wanna Be Around.”
About This Song
Today’s song has wonderful story behind it. I’ll let Tony Bennett tell the story, from his autobiography The Good Life:
Another big number from 1962 was “I Wanna Be Around,” a Johnny Mercer song I had the honor of introducing to the world. What a thrill when I found that Johnny said that my version was his favorite interpretations of any song he ever wrote.
“I Wanna Be Around” has a particularly interesting history. The song was originally conceived by a lady in Youngstown, Ohio, named Sadie Vimmerstedt. Sadie wasn’t a professional songwriter, but she was a fan of great songs, especially Johnny’s. One day she came up with two lines: “I wanna be around to pick up the pieces / When somebody breaks your heart.” She thought they sounded like they belonged in a Johnny Mercer song, so she sent them to him along with a letter explaining how she thought the lyrics would make a good song. She had no exact idea where Johnny lived, so she addressed the envelope. “Johnny Mercer, Songwriter, Los Angeles, California,” and somehow the letter got to him.
Johnny agreed that two the two lines made an idea opening for a song, and he proceeded to write one (one of the rare instances when Johnny wrote the music as well as the lyrics), and then asked me to sing it. We recorded it in October 1962.
Johnny very generously gave Sadie fifth percent of the publishing rights to the song, and she did very well indeed. For years I got postcards from Paris, Italy and Spain; she was able to leave her job and travel for the rest of her life.
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded “I Wanna Be Around” on October 19, 1962 in New York at the CBS 30th Street Studio. The arranger and conductor was Marty Manning. This recording is included on practically every major compilation of Tony Bennett’s best music, including Forty Years: The Artistry of Tony Bennett (and 50 and 60 years as well).
“I Wanna Be Around” is one of this author’s favorites; she is always delighted when Mr. Bennett sings it in concert.
“I Wanna Be Around,” as well as the album I Wanna Be Around, is available from iTunes.