Thursday, December 23, 2010

Songwriter Bob Merrill

Among Merrill's credits: the score to Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol

When I first began developing my taste in music, I gravitated to the singer-songwriters and then simply songwriters (once I began my exploration of the Great American Songbook). It's an endlessly fascinating topic to me: the life and craft of a songwriter.

I'm a lifelong ardent reader of liner notes and song credits. Recently I was safely nestled in the dark morning with my newspapers (yep, old school, baby!) listening to a jazz vocal collection I'd recently purchased. Great music for those minutes before dawn. Anyway, a song called "Make Yourself Comfortable" had me running to the liner notes because I found it so catchy and amusing.

It was written by Bob Merrill, a prolific hit songwriter who at the time of this song (1954) was already known for Patti Page's"How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?"(1952) and "If I Knew You Were Coming I'd've a Baked a Cake"(1950).

1954 was a very good year for Merrill: that year he also penned Rosemary Clooney's "Mambo Italiano".

The other big year in Merrill's songwriting career was 1961. That's when he wrote the music for the stage version of Funny Girl. Yep, he's the guy who wrote songs like "Don't Rain on My Parade" and "People".

Back to "Make Yourself Comfortable". It's a novelty tune much like "How Much Is That Doggie" or "Baked a Cake", but it fits into a niche I've always loved--let's call it the "Why don't ya come up and see me sometime" Mae West niche. Here's some verses.

I've got some records here
to put you in the mood.
The phone is off the hook
so no one can intrude.
I feel romantic
and the record changes automatic, baby.

Sweetheart, we hurried through our dinner
hurried through the dance.
Left before the picture show was through.
Why did we hurry through the dinner
and hurry through the dance?
To leave some time for this.
To hug a hug and kiss a kiss now.

Take off your shoesies, dear,
And loosen up your tie.
I've got some records here.
Let's try one on for size.
I'll turn the lights low
While you make yourself comfortable, baby.

The most famous song in this niche has to be "Baby, It's Cold Outside". I was also remembering a song by Steve & Eydie called "Cozy".

'Spose he wants to get cozy
'Spose he says put your head on my shoulder
and starts to get bolder
and my resistance is low?

My research on "Make Yourself Comfortable" led me to Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gormie and a flood of memories on You Tube. So let's end with my original inspiration. Check out these links pertaining to "Comfortable".

Bette Midler's doo-wop flavored rendition

Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme version

Andy Griffith parody

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