♫ Moon River ♫ (Redux)

I posted this one in August 2019 and as I was tip-toeing through my archives tonight to find something mellow, I came across this one that seemed to fill the bill. 


This was used as Audrey Hepburn’s theme song in the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hepburn sings the song in the movie, and many have recorded this, including Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra, but the one that made the charts in 1961 was Jerry Butler’s version.  Butler’s version reached #11 in the U.S. and #14 in Canada, but it was South African singer Danny Williams’ version that topped the charts at #1 in the UK.  I listened to Danny Williams’ version and frankly, I liked it better than the rest!  I had never heard of him before, but his voice is as silk.

Henry Mancini wrote this song with lyricist Johnny Mercer. The original title was “Blue River,” but Mercer found out another songwriter was using that title.  Moon River is a real river in Savannah, Georgia, where Mercer grew up. His home overlooked the river and he had fond memories of the place. At the time, the river was known as The Back River, but was renamed Moon River in honor of the song, and Johnny Mercer’s home along the river became known as the Moon River House.  According to Mancini …

“I reckon I’ll have made around $100,000 on ‘Moon River’ within the next two years or so. It took me about 30 minutes to compose. It had to be in keeping with the character of Holly Golightly, the star of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and I had to bear in mind the limitations of Audrey Hepburn’s voice. I worked the whole song round a simple guitar basis, although the guitar isn’t heard much during the number.”

Danny Williams originally refused to sing it, saying that Johnny Mercer’s lyrics were nonsensical. But he saw the film and was so moved by it that he relented. Williams died of cancer on 6th December 2005.

With so many good versions to choose from, I was torn.  So, I am giving you a choice tonight, between Jerry Butler’s, Andy Williams’, and Danny Williams’.  Listen to one, to all, or to none … let me know what you think.

Moon River

Moon river, wider than a mile
I’m crossing you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you’re goin’, I’m goin’ your way

Two drifters, off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see
We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ’round the bend
My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me

Moon river, wider than a mile
I’m crossin’ you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you’re goin’, I’m goin’ your way

Two drifters, off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see
We’re after that same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ’round the Bend
My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me

Writer/s: Johnny Mercer, Henry Mancini
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

19 thoughts on “♫ Moon River ♫ (Redux)

  1. Pingback: ♫ Moon River ♫ (Redux) – Kobcountrymusic

  2. Jill, the Andy Williams version is the one I remembered. Seeing Audrey Hepburn sing it was touching and poignant, but it reminded me that she could not have sung the songs in “My Fair Lady” that Marni Nixon sang. What saddened me is this song was in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” voted one of the Top 50 racist movies of all time due to Mickey Rooney playing a denigrating caricature of an Asian-American. Keith

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    • Like you, the Andy Williams version was the one I literally grew up with, as this was a favourite song of my mother’s. I had no idea … no idea that “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” had a racist slant … I’ve obviously never seen the movie, but still … I never even heard that, so naturally I looked it up, and you’re so right! Sigh.

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  3. I’m very familiar with the Andy Wiliams version, so I only listened to the other two clips, of which I liked the Jerry Butler one best. BTW, I can only attribute Danny Williams calling Johnny Mercer’s lyrics “nonsensical” to cultural ignorance. Mercer was one of the greatest songwriters if his generation, if not of all time.

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    • Perhaps it was a generational difference thing? I dunno … I’m like you, I thought the lyrics were great and made a great deal of sense. I didn’t know that Mercer was one of the all-time greats, though … I still think of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer whenever I hear Mercer’s name!

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