Did Johnny Mercer really collaborate with Barry Manilow? Well, yes and no. Manilow did write music to an unfinished poem by Mercer, but after the legendary lyricist’s death. The result, “When October Goes,” is gorgeous in the right hands and can easily turn into power-ballad schmaltz in the wrong ones.
The late great singer Nancy LaMott was definitely “the right hands.” Her arranger Christopher Marlowe used the song “Autumn Leaves” to lead in to the Mercer/Manilow song. LaMott’s simple, direct vocals shine a spotlight on the lyrics. I don’t think you’ll find a better interpretation of “When October Goes” anywhere.