The career of Frank Loesser took a much different path than that of Johnny Mercer. They had several things in common--both were born at approximately the same time, both died much too soon within a few years of each other, and both were regarded as the best idiomatically “American” lyricists. But unlike Mercer, whose career was established almost with his first lyric ("Lazybones" with Hoagy Carmichael in 1933), Loesser was relegated in his first productive decade (1935-45) to a largely secondary status as a lyricist writing with well-known composers such as Burton Lane, Jimmie McHugh and Hoagy Carmichael for songs from forgettable “B” films.
His genius was obvious in a number of exceptional songs from the period, such “Two Sleepy People,” “I Hear Music,” and “Heart And Soul", but his career changed dramatically when he began to compose the music as well. In 1942, when he wrote words and music for one of the last truly popular patriotic songs, “Praise the Lord And Pass the Ammunition,” his career as a composer/lyricist took off, and for the rest of his life he was the only significant writer other than Irving Berlin to use only his own words and music.
His first venture as a writer of a Broadway musical came in 1948 with Where’s Charlie?, followed in short order by a veritable Broadway bombshell--Guys And Dolls--that many consider the greatest American musical comedy ever created. Loesser wrote three more very successful scores before his death in 1969, and in each one it is his words and music that provide the energy and the appeal.