Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive

  • The Song
  • Back Stories
composition date
1944
genre
Film
related media performance(s)
“Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, performed by Bing Crosby
type: Movie
venue: Sing with the Stars
media: Video
songwriter(s)
Harold Arlen
Johnny Mercer
related performer(s)
Bing Crosby
Artie Shaw

As if it dialed a phone number

Johnny Mercer to the BBC: When I was working with Benny Goodman back in ’39, I had a publicity guy who told me he had been to hear Father Divine, and that was the subject of his sermon, “Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.” Well, that amused me so, and it sounds so Southern and so funny that I wrote it down on a piece of paper. And this was, what, five years later? And Harold Arlen and I were riding home from the studio after a conference about getting a song for the sailors. … And Harold was singing me this little tune he had sung me before. Now, that’s a strange thing about your subconscious, because here’s a song that’s kind of lying dormant in my subconscious for five years, and the minute he sang that tune, it jumped into my mind as if it dialed a phone number. Because it doesn’t really fit. The accent is all different. I just think there’s some kind of fate connected with it.

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The 3 part PBS Series
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