Anyone Can Dream : The Merry Macs©2008JCMarion


The Merry Macs had their beginning in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the nineteen twenties . The three McMichael brothers Joe, Judd, and Ted, and Cheri McKay. Owing to the prefix of all their last names the group adopted the name Merry Macs. By the late thirties Mary Lou Cook was the female singer with the three brothers and made a number of radio appearances with Don McNeil's "Breakfast Club" and motion picture appearances. She was replaced by Marjorie Garland and Joe McMichael was killed in action during WWII and he was replaced by Dick Baldwin and then Vern Rowe. That lineup of the two remaining brothers plus Garland and Rowe remained as The Merry Macs until they disbanded in the mid sixties.

The Merry Macs recorded for Decca Records beginning in the nineteen thirties, and moving into the next decade became a well known quartet. "Chopsticks" / "Hawaiian War Chant" on # 2333, "Patty Cake" / "Cuckoo In The Clock" on # 2334, "La Paloma" and "A Ruble A Rhumba" was released on # 2404, and on # 2842 in 1939 the vocal version of "In The Mood" and a novelty number called "Shoot The Sherbet To Me Herbert" which reminds one of the mid fifties hit "Transfusion". Other Decca recordings for Decca during this time were "Breezin' Along With The Breeze" and "Ma He's Making Eyes At Me" on # 3025, "Do You Ever Think Of Me" / "You Made Me Love You" on # 3423, "The Hut-Sut Song" / "Mary Lou" on # 3810,"Rose O'Day" on # 4023, "Little Guppy" and "Annabella" on # 4074, "Deep In The Heart Of Texas" on # 4136, "I Love My Life" and "It's Easy To Say You're Sorry" on # 4262, "Breathless" on # 4265, and "Idaho" and "Olivia" on Decca # 4313.

The group made a number of appearances in motion pictures in the late thirties and early forties. Among the films were "Seeing Red" in 1939, "San Antonio Rose" and "Melody Lane" in 1941. One of these was the Abbot & Costello film "Ride 'Em Cowboy" which introduced the group to a wide audience. They were also seen in the film "Class Of '44". They had a big number one wartime hit recording with their recording of "Mairzy Doats" on Decca # 18588 in 1944. That was followed up by "Pretty Kitty Blue Eyes" on # 18610 (with "Sing Me A Song Of Texas" on the other side) a top ten seller. Following that the group recorded "Up Up Up" and "Let's Sing A Song" on # 18622. The following year their version of the big tune of 1945 "Sentimental Journey" on # 18684 (with "Choo Choo Polka") was a top five best selling hit. An interesting recording from that year was on the songs "On The Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe" and "If I Had You" with Judy Garland for Decca on # 23435 released during the summer. In the spring of 1946 the Merry Macs had two more substantial sellers for Decca. "Laughing On The Outside" on # 18811 made it into the top ten, and the flip side novelty song "Ashby de la Zooch" on its own hit the top twenty.

Despite their continuing stay with Decca the group had a number of records released by the Majestic label in 1946 and early 1947. "There's Them That Do" (from the Disney film "Song Of The South") and "Sooner Or Later" on Majestic # 1084, "I Can't Get Started" and "You Turned The Tables On Me" on # 1102, "The Egg And I" / "Open The Door Richard" on # 1112, "We Knew It All The Time" and "Papa Don't Preach To Me" on # 1134, "You And My Mother In Law" / "Ain't Cha Ever Comin' Back To Me" on # 7235, "I'm Drowning In Your Baby Blue Eyes" and "Anyone Can Dream" on # 7260, and "Baby Darlin" and "Anyone Can Dream " on # 7268.

In 1947 The Merry Macs continued to record for Decca with "Pop Goes The Weasel" on # 25191, "It's Easy To Say You're Sorry" and "I Love My Love" on # 24262, and "You made Me Love You" on # 25424 in 1949. By 1950 the group went to Capitol Records and made some recordings with the orchestra of Frank deVol and some of them became part of an LP album called "The Very Merry Macs" on Capitol LP # 850. After leaving Capitol the quartet went over to Era Records in the mid fifties for a number of record releases. Among the sides for Era were "Boom ! I'm In Clover" and "The Lord Is A Busy Man" on Era # 1007, "Good Will" and "Why Can't We Begin Again" on # 1010, "The Erie Canal" and "One Happy Family" on # 1016, and "Whitewall Tires" and "Bluesville, USA" on # 1021. There was also "The Christmas Cha Cha" for Portrait on # 102. After 1956 The Merry Macs did some recorded commercials and continued to make public appearances across the country. By 1964 the group called it a career after more than thirty years. One of the last appearances made by the group was a special reunion concert in 1968 at the Hollywood Bowl. The lead singer for this appearance was Ted McMichael's daughter Geri.

The Merry Macs made American musical history as one of the early four part harmony vocal groups that influenced so many who came after them and became part of the musical scene in this country and the world. Their music survives on two available cds that recapture the artistry of these wonderful voices. The cd titled "Mairzy Doates" from Living Era in 2001 contains twenty six tracks by the group including nine with the orchestra of Victor Young, two with Bob Crosby's Bobcats, and four with Bob's older brother Bing which together with the vocal group provide a true example of the sound of America's most popular music from 1938 - 1948. A second cd that is subject to some duplication is "Harmonious Hits" for Collector's Choice in 1998 that contains fourteen tracks.

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