Music by Hoagy Carmichael.
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

With its whimsical internal rhymes and novelty subject matter, this Mercer and Carmichael song seems a natural for Betty Hutton. After the success of "Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief" for Paramount's The Stork Club in 1945, Mercer and Carmichael were the obvious choice to pen another hit for her. However, it was not to be. The song was pulled from whatever Paramount vehicle it was written for, and the song sat on the shelf.

Forward to 1951. Enter Here Comes the Groom, a Frank Capra comedy that was matching Jane Wyman up with Bing Crosby. Though it had a full complement of songs-- and Ray Evans and Jay Livingston were no slouches themselves ("Button and Bows," (Oscar #1), "Mona Lisa" (Oscar #2 for the team)), "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" was thrown in the mix. Was it Capra who shoehorned it in? Paramount? Crosby himself? However it got there, the song was a hit (Word from the set is not only that it was sung live, across multiple sets, but that they got it in one take. That's Der Bingle way). The song would win the Academy Award (Mercer's second, and Carmichael's first and only-- funny to think that a tunester like Carmichael, who wrote hundreds of songs in his career, and dozens for movies, was recognized not for any of his love songs or paeans to life in the South, but for this novelty number).

Sue wants a barbecue, Sam wants to boil a ham,
Grace votes for Bouillabaisse stew.
Jake wants a weenie bake, steak and a layer cake,
he'll get a tummy ache too.
We'll rent a tent or teepee. Let the town crier cry.
And if it's R.S.V.P. this is what I'll reply:

In the cool, cool, cool of the evenin', tell 'em I'll be there.
In the cool, cool, cool of the evenin', better save a chair.
When the party's gettin' a glow on, and singin' fills the air,
In the shank o' the night, when the doin's are right,
you can tell 'em I'll be there.
Jane and Bing reprised their performance for Decca and the song charted for 6 weeks in the summer of '51. Over the years, it's been recorded many times, most famously by Dean Martin, Rosemary Clooney, and Frank Sinatra, but you can also find recordings from Fred Astaire, Perry Como, Bob Dorough, Chanticleer, Mavis Rivers, Frankie Laine, Eddie Fisher, Crystal Gayle, Jo Stafford, and Maxine Sullivan. Even Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael themselves each committed it to vinyl. And depending upon the arrangement, the song can be extended, with endless variations of the last two lines. Check out the Rat Pack freestylin' of Mr. Dean Martin on the outro of his Capitol Records version:
If one can relax and we'll have a few yaks...
you can tell 'em I'll be there

If we're still on our feet and there's something to eat...
you can tell 'em I'll be there

If there's gas in my hack and my laundry is back...
you can tell 'em I'll be there

If there's room for one more and you need me why sure...
you can tell 'em I'll be there

If you need a new face or a tenor or bass...
you can tell 'em I'll be there

If I can climb out of bed and put a hat on my head...
you can tell 'em I'll be there

If I can find the right sock by eleven o'clock,
you can tell 'em I'll be there
Capitol Sings Hoagy Carmichael: Stardust. (Capitol 32592)
Lewis, Stephen. Bing Crosby Internet Museum. <> (22 April 2003)
All Music Guide. <|PM&sql=H610983> (22 April 2003)
"Timeline of Hoagy Carmichael's Life." The Hoagy Carmichael Collection. <> (22 April 2003)

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