1964's Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Songbook, despite often being forgotten among her Verve output, is a beautiful work that is significant for many reasons: it was her fifth and final collaboration with Nelson Riddle arranging and conducting, it was the final entry in her Songbook series, it's the only Songbook album that focused on the work of a lyricist.
"Something's Gotta Give" is one of only two songs on the album written entirely by Mercer; the other eleven tracks feature Mercer's lyrics set to melodies by other songwriters. Written a decade earlier for Fred Astaire in the movie Daddy Long Legs, it was nominated for a Best Original Song Oscar. The playful lyrics reference the "irresistible force paradox," (irresistible force + immovable object).
Riddle's arrangement swings like hell from the moment the crashing intro begins. It's a fabulously '60s big band arrangement, all bright horns and twinkling vibes, and even a cooing Plas Johnson sax solo. Irving Cottler kills it on drums, and Ella sounds about as happy as she ever did in the studio.
Ella 101 is a daily look at 101 essential recordings by Ella Fitzgerald, who was born 101 years ago this month. Tune in to Equinox, Monday nights from 8 - 11 p.m. on WYSO, to hear Ella and more great jazz with host Duante Beddingfield.