HOAGY CARMICHAEL (1899 - 1981)
Hoagy Carmichael was influenced by his mother, who played piano at local movie houses, and by the music of black jazz ensembles. But he went on to study law at Indiana University where he organized a band. There he met the brilliant young cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, who encouraged his songwriting and recorded Hoagy’s “Riverboat Shuffle” with him in 1924.
Eventually Hoagy gave up law and went to New York. Success was slow in coming, but he recorded some songs for Mills Music which were picked up by leading bands. Mildred Bailey had hits with “Rockin’ Chair” in 1929 and “Georgia on My Mind” in 1932 (lyrics by Stuart Gorrell).
In 1936 Carmichael headed to Hollywood for success both on and off screen. He established his persona as a pianist/singer—hat tipped back, coatless, cigarette hanging from his lips—in the Bogart/Bacall film To Have and Have Not (1942), and people loved his relaxed, nasal delivery. By 1946 he had three songs on the Hit Parade, and in 1951 he and Johnny Mercer won an Oscar for “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening.” Other Mercer collaborations turned out “Lazy Bones” (1931) and “Skylark” (1941).
But it is “Stardust” (1928), with lyrics by Mitchell Parish, for which Carmichael is best remembered. The list of musicians who have not recorded it is a short one. Parish also wrote lyrics to “One Morning in May” (1931).
Hoagy’s other collaborations produced “Baltimore Oriole” (1942) and “Memphis in June” (1945) with Paul Francis Webster; “Two Sleepy People” (1938) with Frank Loesser; “The Nearness of You” (1937) with Ned Washington; and “Ole Buttermilk Sky” (1946) with Jack Brooks, which was nominated for “Best Song” Oscar in 1947. Carmichael wrote music and lyrics for “Daybreak” (1932) and “I Get Along Without You Very Well” (1938).
-- Sandra Burlingame
Courtesy of JazzStandards.com