Too Marvelous for Words

"Too Marvelous for Words" is a popular song written in 1937. Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics for music composed by Richard Whiting. It was featured in the 1937 Warner Brothers film Ready, Willing and Able, as well as a production number in a musical revue on Broadway. The song has become a pop standard and has been recorded by many artists.

"Too Marvelous for Words"
GenreTraditional pop
Songwriter(s)Composer: Richard Whiting
Lyricist: Johnny Mercer


The song was used as the love theme for the characters played by Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart in the 1947 film noir Dark Passage, directed by Delmer Daves. It was introduced in a vocal version (often erroneously credited, without verification, to Jo Stafford), then recurred as an instrumental at important points in the story. Harry James recorded a version in 1947 on Columbia 37851.

Alec Wilder has praised the song as a "model of pop song writing, musically and lyrically".[1] He cited its surprising shifts in rhythm and key.

The lyrics have won praise as sophisticated and perfectly synchronized with the tune. In the opinion of at least one critic, Mercer borrowed some of the lyric techniques and wordplay from Ira Gershwin.[2] Singer Margaret Whiting was the daughter of composer Whiting and a good friend of lyricist Mercer. She said that Mercer's lyrics in "Too Marvelous for Words" were an enormously original approach to saying "I love you, honey".[3]


Bing Crosby recorded the song on March 3, 1937[4] with Jimmy Dorsey for Decca Records and it went to the top of the charts of the day during ten weeks in the listings.[5] Leo Reisman and his Orchestra also had chart success with the song in 1937, briefly reaching the No. 16 spot.[6]
Frank Sinatra covered the song on his 1956 album Songs for Swingin' Lovers!, arranged by the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. He continued to perform the song on his 1962 world tour, and performed it with a new arrangement by the Count Basie Band in 1965.[7]

Other artists who have recorded the song include:

Stan Getz

See also


  1. Wilder, Alec (1990). American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-501445-6.
  2. Furia, Philip (1990). The Poets of Tin Pan Alley. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506408-9.
  3. Wilk, Max (1997). They're Playing Our Song. New York: Da Capo. ISBN 0-306-80746-7.
  4. "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  5. Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 106. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  6. Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 366. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  7. "Frank Sinatra: Too Marvelous for Words". Merriam-Webster. 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  8. "". Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  9. "". Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  10. "". Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  11. "". Retrieved April 2, 2017.
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