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Accentuate The Positive Lyrics

Artist: Johnny Mercer
Album: Accentuate The Positive

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive

- Artist: Johnny Mercer as sung on "Remember the 40's-Music Of the War Years
Vol. IV, 1941-45" CEMA Special Markets (Capitol-EMI) CDL-57367
- peak Billboard position # 1 in 1945
- competing versions charted by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters (#2),
Artie Shaw (#5), and Kay Kyser (#12)
- Words and Music by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer

Gather 'round me, everybody
Gather 'round me while I'm preachin'
Feel a sermon comin' on me
The topic will be sin and that's what I'm ag'in'
If you wanna hear my story
The settle back and just sit tight
While I start reviewin'
The attitude of doin' right

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium's
Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do just when everything looked so dark?

(Man, they said "We'd better accentuate the positive")
("Eliminate the negative")
("And latch on to the affirmative")
Don't mess with Mister In-Between (No!)
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

(Ya got to spread joy up to the maximum)
(Bring gloom down to the minimum)
(Have faith or pandemonium's)
(Liable to walk upon the scene)

You got to ac (yes, yes) -cent-tchu-ate the positive
Eliminate (yes, yes) the negative
And latch (yes, yes) on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No, don't mess with Mister In-Between

Transcribed by Robin Hood

These lyrics were transcribed from the specific recording mentioned above
and do not necessarily correspond with lyrics from other recordings, sheet
music, songbooks or lyrics printed on album jackets.


by frank on 5/12/2008 11:52am
what do you think Mercer meant by "...don't mess with mister in between....?"
by estephan on 5/21/2008 7:30pm
don't mess with the neutral or sitting on the fence. don't mess with the half-ass sort of yes sort of no type of thing. just balls to the walls positivity. it really is doable.
by on 5/22/2008 3:23pm
great lyrics where can i get a cd
dont messs with mr in between means
be positive or negative and avoid the middle ground
by Nan on 5/25/2008 10:49pm
dear boys, what Mr. Mercer was talking about is from the Bible. God said if you are neither hot nor cold (regarding him,} he will spew you out of his mouth. You're either his or not, no "mister in between"! Golly that seems to me to be even more hard hitting than the vulgar way estephan put it.
by Fiona on 6/11/2008 1:10pm
I love this song. It makes me want to do something with my life!
by Dead Air on 6/13/2008 1:54am
dear Nan, what Mr. Mercer was talking about was secular pop music drawing from gospel spirituality by pointing out to all of us that the Bible is full of vulgarity - that vulgarity must be recognized and even felt to be overcome. estaphan's interpretation is nothing more than updating it into current language, rather well, and much more in line with the idea of the song than a condemning shot might be.
by on 6/15/2008 3:17am
"Mr. In-Between" = indecisiveness or indecision, vascillating this way and that. The message: stay positive and don't get stuck in the negatives of the past. Learn from your mistakes of course but CHARGE into the future toward one's goals. Don't sit around "hung up in maybe this / maybe that." That's what I get out of it anyway.
by Liz on 7/7/2008 11:49pm
I really like this song- but it doesn't make me want to do something w/ my life lol. However, it does make me want to sing!
by Adam Neira on 7/24/2008 1:44am
The Messianic Motto is best described by these wonderful songlines written in a time of war, foreboding and quiet hop and grace.
by Kathy on 8/28/2008 11:04am
Does anyone know if this song was ever in a Broadway Musical or Movie?
by Nadi on 10/10/2008 2:35pm
Dont wess with mr. in between means dont mess with the nagative
by ray on 11/3/2008 12:45pm
this should be a song for our times
by on 12/22/2008 4:24pm
This is definitely a song for our times. I agree with Michael, Mr. In-between is "indecisiveness" or "maybe" as those words are "no action" Mr. In-between is "doubt" and a person in "doubt" is hung up on an indecision and won't progress until he makes up his mind one way or another i.e. "the affirmative" "No" is not always negative, like "say no to drugs", this is a positive, and affirmative. "No, I don't want to be a slave" would be another example. Great song! One of the best artist for words of his time! Go Johnny Mercer!!
by PB S.F. on 2/19/2009 12:29pm
Another interpretation: Don't impose values on others; don't condition people to adopt your way of thinking. The context and word-choice are important - "Don't mess with...", but rather, live your own life as best you know how. One can take the song as gospel, or as example. To be warned-off messing with the non-committed suggests openness rather than ideology.
by bill drax on 2/22/2009 4:11pm
To answer Kathy's question, this song was from Paramount Pictures "Here Come The Waves" in 1944, was nominated for an Academy Award but did not win.
by Gerry on 2/27/2009 9:50am
How do we get this song to our media people, press/TV/radio? They constantly "Accentuate the
Negative". We are all aware of
the present economy,due to their
constant "gloom". Even when there
is good news they end it with a "but", then add on ome "gloom". Get the media to "Accentuate The Positive" and advise them "Don"t mess with Mister-In-Between"
by ?? on 3/25/2009 5:07pm
I love this song im singing it for chorus
by Dan on 4/30/2009 12:33pm
Yes. Kathy, this tune was used in the opening credits of the 1998 film L.A. Confidential
by CRS on 5/14/2009 5:23pm
I am using this song in my class. I teach design process.
by Carrie on 5/24/2009 2:36pm
Has anyone ever heard Tony Bennett's remake of this? It is on an CD released in 1998 that is geared for children, called The Playground. It is great!
by Chops McCoy on 8/15/2009 12:32pm
Just put on Dr. John's version and sang along using these lyrics. Boy, am I uplifted!
by unity03 on 9/10/2009 11:26pm
I remember this song from the disney movie.. it was robin hood, right?
by Savvy on 9/25/2009 6:25pm
I have no clue, all I know is I'm doing this song for the Winter Concert for Chorus. But, I had to change some of the words around, like "You've got to spread joy up to the maximum" should read "You've got to spread spread joy joy up to the maximum", and a few other things. But I really do enjoy this song, it's easy to sing but also very fun!
by kkkkk on 10/2/2009 3:54am
so it doesn`t have any pictures
by Anton on 10/16/2009 12:26am
I really hate this song, not so much the melody but the lyrics in particular.
by Martin on 11/8/2009 8:24am
its a great song of its time and still gets our feet tapping! The expression'gospel'used by PBSF is interesting as that book is a long novel and written by various people[not by Nan's God] and is full of nonsense and borrowed myths. wonderful that Mercer should have found inspiration from a real person.
by Carol on 12/4/2009 1:05am
Johnny Mercer wrote lyrics to something like 1,500 songs. Such talent! Check Wikipedia and read about Mr. Mercer. His lyrics are so intelligent and entertaining and cute. His Gift for words to music is exceptional.
by Kenna on 1/5/2010 6:10am
I'm making this my New Year's resolution....Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative. I think the end result will be a very up-beat, happy, joyful me. Happy 2010.
by DAMIEN on 1/9/2010 6:35pm
by Christy B on 2/9/2010 2:54pm
Bill Drax was correct saying it was in the movie "Here Come the Waves". Bing Crosby sang it in Black Face which was still popular during WWII. The movie included it in a stage production for recruiting women into the WAVES. Quite delightful, well sung and acted; a real toe-tapper. If you love this song, don't miss this production.
by Valero on 5/25/2010 6:51pm
Saaay, do you suppose Mercer was suggesting that we should avoid masterbating..., you know "...don't mess with Mr. In-Between"? (In between your legs??)
by Sally Monella on 5/25/2010 7:00pm
I think Mr. Mercer was saying that we should not be wishy-washy or lackadaisical towards life's challenges. The secret of life is to think positive thoughts, putting negativity out of your mind.
If you focus on negative thoughts, you cannot possibly achieve a positive attitude, and a focused and satisfying life.
by on 6/15/2010 9:56pm
You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium's
Liable to walk upon the scene


This comment here references opposing views --- from differing time periods. Are we in 1940 wartimes as was this composer's life point of view was?


We are not! We are in 2010. And in the the times when "Paradise lost: a poem in twelve books
By John Milton" was written.... You will find these words....


To chase thy gloom.—' Go, fix some weighty truth ;
Chain down some passion ; Jo some generous good ;
Teach Ignorance to see, or Grief to smile ;
Correct thy friend ; befriend thy greatest foe ;

Go Figure it out.

@GRUWUP 2010
Great Reasons Urbans Will Unite Peace
by Charles Nelson on 9/25/2010 2:39pm
Great Song; I hope my granddaughter, age 2 1/2, will hear it in time.
by Foo on 10/9/2010 3:13pm
No one seems to have mentioned that this was used at the end of the film "LA Confidential"...
by Rich on 2/4/2011 12:56pm
Kathy, it was also used in "The
Mighty Ducks"
by charlie on 5/3/2011 6:45pm
there's a version by Dr. John that was played at the end of last week's episode of Treme, it was great. I found it on YouTube, along with versions by Ella, Bing,Bing and Bette, the Andrews Sisters and others. Great song, great message
by hope on 6/26/2011 8:17pm
i saw this song on 7th heaven.
by chocolatepie on 8/1/2011 4:37am
Simply means like one other person above mentioned. Either be hot or cold but not lukewarm. Like the bible mentions Christ says in Revelations 3:15-16 about being hot or cold but if you be lukewarm he would spew them out. So lukewarm is "Mr. in between" which is worse than cold. Simply that and nothing else. By the way, to the person about who mentioned the bible is full of myths.....the bible is the most accurate book of any book ever written, period.
by Alexis on 8/5/2011 8:08am
I too am fond of this song. It was also the theme song for a TV show in the 90's called "The Homefront" , that was about WWII. Anybody remember that? I liked that show.
by neilawanui on 9/1/2011 12:31am
My favourite song of all time .
by Timothy on 9/14/2011 11:02pm
To those who claim that faith has nothing to do with this song - look it up. Mercer stated that he got the idea for this song from a sermon.
by lynnalessandra on 9/22/2011 4:23pm
My mother, who suffered much in her life, would bring stacks of LP's, 45's, and even some 78's home from the public library, Oak Ridge, TN. Many of the songs were overtly positive. Although, at the time, I did not get all the verses, the first quatrain(?) was among my childhood mind-shapers.
by John S. Kalivoda on 2/20/2012 11:37pm
This is the song I'll be teaching to residents at Timber Ridge Nursing and Rehab Center in Ocala Florida at our morning "Musical Memories" program. Appropriate - Yeah?
by ANNIE MAE THOMAS SHANKLIN on 3/23/2012 9:32am
by faded illuzionz on 3/25/2012 3:14pm
Does anyone remember this song from the opening credits of 'blast from the past'? We need to focus on values of this type during modern day breakdown of morals and values. From the song and film. Honesty, support and trust. Things i feel we are losing in society. :(
by beckums on 4/2/2012 9:12pm
Love this song... And anything positive. Blast from the Past was awesome.
Say to yourself: things just naturally go right for me. See what happens.
by Andrey on 4/14/2012 10:57pm
Thanks a lot, Valero. I couldn't understand what mess with mr. in between meant, until I read your comment. Of course it means don't masturbate. Then it's funny and to the point.
by Rohit on 4/24/2012 10:53pm
Heard it on colbert report
by JustEddie on 4/26/2012 7:50am
Mr. Johnny Mercer was associated with the religious group called "International Peace Mission" in which they believe that God returned to earth in the form of a man named "Father Devine". This song was written as a tribute to the teachings of Father Devine.
by Billy-Bob on 5/1/2012 2:50pm
Julie Andrews and Stephen Colbert Sang it on his show. Their "routine" was unrehearsed and hilarious. She was there to promote her book and they never touched on it,...although Julie did imply some touching was going on backstage and sexual harassment suits would soon follow. Stephen Colbert is usually good at keeping a straight face but he lost it during this interview. It was something to see.
by Peace on 8/30/2012 11:19am
Mr. In-Between is the 'polite' response that we give people when we are trying not to offend. The lyrics are telling us to speak our truth, be honest, but focus on the positive aspect. Speaking our truth with love focuses our attention on positive energy, and eliminates negative energy.
by happy on 9/8/2012 8:21pm
sounds like the prophet has spoken...uh, i mean sang!
by AiredaleLady on 9/18/2012 1:12pm
I am 71. this was the first song I remember and my father used to sing it to me when I was a toddler and my mother used to sing it later on when I was having problems making decisions.
by Emory Harman, Jr. on 3/25/2013 10:24am
During the war years they needed to have songs like this to help us get along with life and not feel doom and gloom. I wasn't there but my parents were. And they did accentuate the positive. You can interpret as a gospel song if you want. But it is about staying positive which is what we all need right now. Thank you.
The song is not about masturabation!!!
by Rev. Sonia on 9/10/2013 5:39pm
Mr. In Between is "Satan" In other words, stay positive, do right and dont mess with the devil in between!
by Aging golfer bcktlst 80 & sbr on 10/16/2013 8:39am
Channel this & Moonbeams as your Bing-bing Budda. Not Rupert Merdork & Fox News. Write your own Masterpiece!
by AnitaLouise on 8/5/2014 2:06pm
Rev. Sonia. That's your personal perspective, as a Rev., but I'm sure Mr. Mercer never implied any demon or devil in his song lyrics. Some things are just what they are.
by Mild Bill on 8/21/2014 4:37am
This song should be the mantra of every middle and high school teacher in the nation!
by Puhleez on 12/14/2014 4:13pm
Just shut up and enjoy the song!
by Jean Decaudin on 12/18/2014 7:11pm
Stupid BS for morons
by Arlie Adkins on 12/27/2014 7:37pm
I'm 79 years old and I have been using this part of the song as my
Inspiration to always be a Positive thinker and never be negative about anything. When you to that your positive thinking turns to yes you can. Mister In Between is all the junk that runs through the thinking process that you should just forget.
"You've got to accentuate the positive Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between"

Inspiration to always be a Positive thinker and never be negative about anything. When you to that your positive thinking turns to yes you can. Mister In Between is all the junk that runs through the thinking process that you should just forget.

"You've got to accent-the-positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between"

by Lavada on 2/19/2015 1:19am
He meant quit riding the fence take positive action otherwise nothing would change and life would suck
by Liberty G on 4/17/2015 5:37am
These lyrics have been ringing in my head as I am feeling moved to take action, not always Against bad things and not always in the Us vs. Them that pervades our lives and Planet - but For Love & Common Ground & Seeking the Good. How often do we see this approach to making this a better and happier world (Note: As a Quaker and long-time Alternatives to Violence person, I have found many great instances of transformation of bad situations.)
by Jeffrey S Tobias on 4/25/2015 5:30pm
Im Co-Owner of terrific Tin Pan Alley Songs Written By Charles Tobias whos Brother in Law was Eddie Cantor,who married IDA TOBIAS,his Relative.Thats All Folks,written 1937,Dont sit UNDER the Apple Tree,by Andrew Sisters,Roll out those Lazy hazy Crazy days of Summer,sang by Nat King Cole.Zing,Zing,Zoom,Zoom,The Old Lamplighter,Start ther Day Right,Rose O day,look at Charles Tobias Catalog nand Google it.Blessings ,Jeffrey Tobias
by Alfie on 5/5/2015 3:49pm
I believe this song is an inspiration to everyone, young and old alike. Whatever Mr Mercer's reasons for writing this song it has obviously had a profound affect on a lot of people. Everyone's perception of the lyrics will vary considerably, we all see things differently. My advice don't over analyse it too much, just enjoy the song and what it means to you.
by phili on 1/9/2016 1:52am
It's 2016 and evil is trying to take over the world (particularly Israel), sometimes obviously, sometimes sublimely - even more so than in the 1940's. Just live up to the words of this song! Thank you Mr Mercer!
by John on 7/13/2016 11:59pm
Watch out for Mr In-Between
by Lena in Cornwall UK on 10/1/2016 1:53am
Woke up with the words of this song from my childhood and needed to find all the lyrics plus author. For me they are just what I needed for my self confidence after my Bible reading and devotionals. Great that you have so many interested people commenting!
by Nellie Thomas on 4/24/2017 4:03am
What a message!!!! :)
by Norm Manning 5/1/17 on 5/1/2017 9:41pm
I was born in 1939 so I remember this song as a child growing up. I could only remember the chorus, so looked up all of the lyrics on this web site. Thank you for all the words. The message is still important for all of us live by today...
by clint on 5/19/2017 11:24am
i'm teaching from the book of Jonah. Song is a good parallel to Jonah's life
by Osku on 11/12/2018 4:34pm
Guys Guys Guys! C'mon, REALLY doesn't anyone pay attention to absurd references between biblituary rethoric and ultimately vulgar disposal of Language of the Time? Mr. In between! Remember that it was Genius Bäck at the Time, but obviously demonstrates the working of the code today still and also. Nag all you want but this is a mafia-hit-song you numbnuts!
by BrookAlick on 6/1/2019 9:24pm
by 123 on 8/8/2019 12:32pm
by robby lumps on 10/21/2019 8:45pm
its a harmless song you freak go back to playing your death video games
by dorothy dunn on 1/24/2020 6:41am
it bring back good feelings. he wrote many songs with great lyric. i could remember the words and sing along. i love it SING
by Liz on 6/1/2020 12:34pm
Love this song. It makes me realize we are what we think. I choose the positive.

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