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I Remember You (1942)

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Origin and Chart Information
“I wrote it for Judy Garland. I always had such a crush on Garland I couldn’t think straight, so I wrote this song.”

- Johnny Mercer

Rank 116
Music Victor Schertzinger
Lyrics Johnny Mercer

This collaboration of Victor Schertzinger and Johnny Mercer was introduced in the 1942 motion picture The Fleet’s In, starring Dorothy Lamour, William Holden, and Jimmy Dorsey’s Orchestra with vocalists Helen O’Connell and Bob Eberly. Dorsey’s recording, with a vocal by Eberly, made it into the charts.


Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

Director Schertzinger was a multi-talented man, both a master of music and the film arts. He teamed with superb lyricist Johnny Mercer for the music for The Fleet’s In, which would be Schertzinger’s last picture. The two wrote “I Remember You,” ”Tangerine,” and “Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing in a Hurray,” all three of which would be big hits for Jimmy Dorsey’s band.


More on Johnny Mercer at JazzBiographies.com

More on Victor Schertzinger at JazzBiographies.com

More on Jimmy Dorsey at JazzBiographies.com

Gene Lee’s biography, Portrait of Johnny: The Life of John Herndon Mercer, includes Mercer’s comments about writing “I Remember You:” “I wrote it very fast, ten minutes, half an hour at most.” But Philip Furia’s bio, Skylark: The Life and Times of Johnny Mercer, reveals the real inspiration for Mercer’s lyric.

Mercer had been infatuated with actress/vocalist Judy Garland for years, and the two had an off-again, on-again relationship, despite the fact that Mercer was married, as was Garland at times. Both writers’ biographies detail the liason and the fact that many of Mercer’s lyrics were clearly inspired by Garland, including “Skylark,” “That Old Black Magic,” and “I Remember You.” A quote in Furia’s book, relating a conversation Mercer had with a hometown Savannah, Georgia, friend, details Mercer’s inspiration: “I wrote it for Judy Garland. I always had such a crush on Garland I couldn’t think straight, so I wrote this song.”

A posthumous publication of Mercer’s lyrics, assembled by widow Ginger Mercer and friend Bob Bach, omitted “I Remember You.” When Mercer passed away in 1976 someone suggested to Ginger that some of the lyrics to “I Remember You” would be a fitting epitaph, and she exploded in a rage. In a strange twist of fate, when Ginger died in 1994, the program for the memorial service showed her picture with the caption “I Remember You.”

More information on this tune...

Philip Furia
Skylark: The Life and Times of Johnny Mercer
St. Martin's Press; 1st edition
Hardcover: 320 pages

(Mercer biographer Furia devotes a page to his analysis of the lyric and related anecdotes.)
See the Reading and Research links on this page for additional references.

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian

Recommendations for This Tune
Click on any CD for more details at Amazon.com
Horace Silver Trio
Horace Silver Trio, Vol. 1: Spotlight on Drums
Blue Note Records
Original recording 1953

For those who know Horace Silver for his great quintets and grooving tunes, this track is illuminating. In a trio with Art Blakey and Percy Heath, Silver offers a tender and creative ballad performance of “I Remember You.”

Chet Baker
Chet Baker Sings and Plays with Bud Shank, Russ Freeman and Strings
Blue Note Records
Original recording 1955

In a quartet with pianist Russ Freeman, Baker sings “I Remember You” slyly at a swinging medium tempo before moving on to a cool-toned trumpet solo.

Ella Fitzgerald
Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook
Polygram Records
Original recording 1964

Nelson Riddle’s tasteful arrangement presents “I Remember You” at a slow, measured tempo. There is lots of room for Fitzgerald to shine, plus a featured solo for clarinetist Buddy DeFranco.

Stan Getz
Polygram Records
Original recording 1987

Getz’s live recording of “I Remember You” embodies flowing swing (or perhaps swinging flow). This is in no small part due to the remarkable groove provided by the rhythm section of Victor Lewis, Rufus Reid and Kenny Barron, whose own solo is particularly noteworthy.


- Noah Baerman

Diana Krall
The Look of Love
2001 Verve 314549846
Original recording 2001
Krall creates a sensual masterpiece, her sultry vocals floating over orchestral strings and a languid bossa nova.
James Clay
A Double Dose of Soul
1991 Original Jazz Classics 1790
Original recording 1960
An engaging hard bop reading of the song finds Clay putting down the sax and picking up the flute to engage vibraphonist Victor Feldman in a game of musical cat and mouse.
Kenny Burrell
Stolen Moments
2002 Concord Jazz 2128
Original recording 1977
Drummer Carl Burnett and bassist Reggie Johnson lay down a tranquil mid-tempo rhythm over which guitarist Burrell gently plucks out a lyrical reading.
Sarah Vaughan
The Roulette Years
1991 Blue Note Records 94983
The singer offers a gentle reading of this beautiful standard against a backdrop of lush strings.
Tal Farlow
Verve Jazz Masters 41
1995 Polygram Records 27365
Original recordings 1955-58
Farlow was one of the greatest guitarists of the ‘50s, often cited as the fastest. Here in a trio setting, he takes “I Remember You” at mid-tempo in an unforgettable version.

- Ben Maycock

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