My Favorite Autumn Song

If I had to pick a favorite American song, especially this time of year, then it would have to be “When October Goes.” It is a haunting ballad based on a lyric Johnny Mercer had written but did not complete. It was matched up to a melody by Barry Manilow and published in 1984. How did the pairing come about? In his last year, as he was dying from brain cancer, Mercer became extremely fond of Manilow, in part because Manilow’s first hit record was of a song titled “Mandy,” which was also the name of Mercer’s daughter. After Mercer’s death, his widow, Ginger Mehan Mercer, arranged to give some unfinished lyrics he had written to Manilow to possibly develop into complete songs. Among these was “When October Goes.” The song has since been recorded by Kevin Mahogany, Rosemary Clooney, Nancy Wilson, and Megon McDonough. Clooney’s version is my favorite, but it’s not on youtube, so I’m presenting Wilson’s rendition above, despite its plethora of icy images which don’t, for me, convey the mood of a song that is exquisitely autumnal.

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