What would happen if an immovable object were confronted with an unstoppable force?


When an irresistible force such as you,
Meets an old immovable object like me,
You can bet, as sure as you li-i-i-ive;
Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give

- Lyrics as delivered by Ella Fitzgerald

Something's Gotta Give (1955)

Music and Lyrics by Johnny Mercer

(a.k.a. "Immer Noch Einmal")

From the 1955 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture Daddy Long Legs featuring Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron

When a fan of the Great American Songbook spots a nodeshell with a title like this, it's kinda like when ornithologists stop their car on the side of a precarious ridge or busy highway, whip out their telephoto lenses, and capture the elusive "Yellow-Throated-Thrusted-Throttling-Thicket-Thrush." One just can't resist.

However, how close, and how relevant are the nodeshell title and the subject of this writeup? Only popularity will out.

Now, this writeup will not deal with Johnny Mercer. Suffice it to say that Mercer had (and now the Georgia State University Library, to which he left his papers, recordings, etc.) has the habit of crediting Mercer alone as "composer" to many, many fabulous songs even though, in fact, he was only the lyricist. That's at least confusing and at worst, well, cheating; not giving credit where credit's due. Suffice it to say that this is not an objective writeup.

Enough chit-chat. On to the song in question:

Although sung in the 1955 movie by Fred Astaire (dubbed - 'cause during the song he was dancing up a storm with Leslie Caron) the lyric "Somethin's gotta give" said three times fast; literally, were too much for Astaire, not to malign his singing. This Mercer tune sang out its siren song to every jazz singer who heard it. Many purists argue that Ella "owns" this song, as a popular single and eventually as part of her immense Songbook oeuvre.

Among the other interesting popular and jazz artists who've grappled with this swinging, lyrically exciting bagatelle are (a selected listing in alphabetical order):

Rosemary Clooney
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme
Jack Jones (ecch!)
Dame Cleo Laine
Buddy Greco
(The composer himself)
Frank Sinatra
Frank Stallone (again - ecch!)
Mel Torme and
Dinah Washington

The cool thing about this type of clashing of seeming celestial proportions (or something in a particle accelerator or a nuclear reactor or black hole as so many E2 writers are wont to relate to) is that the result is delightful at least, and erotically stimulating at best:

When an irrepressible smile such as yours
Warms an old implacable heart such as mine
Don't say no, because I insist
Somewhere, somehow, someone's gonna be kissed


Fight fight fight (fight fight) it with all of your might
Chances are that some heavenly star-spangled night
We'll find out just as sure as we live
Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give

In closing, advice to the novice listener are to hear Torme swing it really, really easy first; then Sinatra makes love to the tune (to a nice arrangement). But save the piece de resistance (pun intended) for last. Select a swingin' Ella Fitzgerald cut and dance the night away (hopefully not thinking about particle accelerators, black holes, etc.).


  • The Georgia State University Library: http://www.library.gsu.edu/spcoll/mercer/songs.asp?action=info&ID=849 (accessed 11/23/06)
  • The inimitable IMDB: www.imdb.com (accessed 11/23/06)
  • The ASCAP ACE search page: www.ascap.com/ace/ (accessed 11/23/06)
  • The writer's familiarity with the composer.