“Skylark” is one of my very favorite songs, the combination of words and music are just wonderful. Lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Hoagy Carmichael, published in 1941. Mercer said that he struggled for a year after he got the music from Carmichael before he could get the lyrics right. The yearning expressed in the lyrics is Mercer’s longing for Judy Garland, with whom Mercer had an affair.
Two performances illustrate how beautiful this song is: Maxine Sullivan’s recording from 1947 has a delicate and tender quality yet also expresses the emotion in the song. The masterful Sonny Rollins gives an outstanding performance, showing a full understanding of the lyrics as he winds around the melody in a wonderful improvisation.
Skylark, have you anything to say to me? Won’t you tell me where my love can be? Is there a meadow in the mist where someone’s waiting to be kissed?
Skylark, have you seen a valley green with spring where my heart can go a journeying over the shadows and the rain to a blossom covered lane?
And in your lonely flight haven’t you heard the music in the night, wonderful music, faint as a will o’ the wisp, crazy as a loon, sad as a gypsy serenading the moon.
Oh, skylark, I don’t know if you can find these things but my heart is riding on your wings. So if you see them anywhere won’t you lead me there?