The song of the day for Tuesday, January 21, 2014 is “I Wanna Be Around.”
About This Song
The story of “I Wanna Be Around” is legendary in the music business. Sadie Vimmerstedt, who lived in Youngstown, Ohio, was a big fan of Johnny Mercer’s music. She wrote the opening line ‘I want to be around to pick up the pieces, when somebody breaks yours heart’ and felt it sounded like a Johnny Mercer song. She mailed a letter to ‘Johnny Mercer, Songwriter, New York.’ The post office forwarded the letter to ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), who got the letter to Mercer.
Mercer wrote the melody himself and completed the lyrics for “I Wanna Be Around” in 1959 and asked Tony Bennett to record it, which he did in 1962. Mercer gave 50% of the profits to Ms. Vimmerstedt, which made her a wealthy woman and enabled her to retire and travel the world. Tony Bennett recounts in his autobiography The Good Life that she sent him postcards from her travels.
It is one of the great songs in the American Songbook.
About This Version
I can hear you now … she’s been playing a lot of Johnny Mercer lately; it’s true–I have been. Mercer, Arlen, Rodgers and Hart, and “The Rules of the Road” are all on the list of songs and songwriters that I just cannot resist.
Today’s version of “I Wanna Be Around” is the original. Tony Bennett recorded this version in 1962; it was released as a single in 1962 and featured for his 1963 album of the same name. This album also contains another of his great hits: “The Good Life” (stayed tuned; this song is coming up soon). It was arranged and conducted by Marty Manning and was produced by Ernie Altschuler.
“I Wanna Be Around,” as well as the album of the same name, is available from iTunes.