Song Story: Moon River

Moon River is best remembered for Audrey Hepburn’s rendition in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

pictures of a blue moon over the river

The song was written for the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s and set to fit Hepburn’s vocal range.

It is suggested that a movie executive with Paramount Pictures suggested removing the song from the movie, but Hepburn highly objected.

The song was composed by Henry Mancini {melody} and Johnny Mercer {lyrics}.   Mercer based the lyrics on the waterways of his Savannah, Georgia childhood home.

The original title was “Blue River” until it was discovered another songwriter was using that title.  Blue River is a real river in Savannah, Georgia.

The line, “My huckleberry friend” is often thought to be a reference to Huckleberry Finn, a character in Mark Twain’s book Tom Sawyer. However, in his autobiography, Johnny Mercer said it was in reference to a childhood friend of his. He used to pick huckleberries with him down by a lazy river near his home in Georgia.

The song helped relaunch Mercer’s songwriting career, which had stalled during the mid-1950s.

Andy Williams first recorded the theme song in 1961 and it became a huge success for him.  He performed the song at the 1962 Academy Awards Ceremony.

Williams also sang the first few bars at the beginning of the Andy Williams Show.  His autobiography is called “Moon River” and Me and he named his production company Moon River.

Hepburn’s rendition in Breakfast at Tiffany’s  won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1961.

The song also won Mancini the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1962 and Mancini and Mercer the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1962.

Numerous artists have recorded the song, but Hepburn’s and Williams versions remains two of the best known.

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