Ac-Cent-Tu-Ate the Positive

Words & Music by Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer
Recorded by Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters, 1945 (#2)

A      G   A  D    G   D               G   D
You've got to ac - cen - tu - ate the positive,

A7  G7  A7             G    A7
E - lim - in - ate the negative,

     D    G   D             G           D
And latch on    to the af - fir - ma - tive,

A7              G      A7    D
Don't mess with Mister In-Between.

A      G   A   D      G   D           G          D
You've got to spread joy    up to the max - i - mum

A7     G    A7             G         A7
Bring gloom    down to the min - i - mum

D      G   D               G           D
Have faith   or pan - de - mo - ni - um's

A7         G     A7       D
Li'ble to walk upon the scene.


Gdim             D   Gdim           D7
 To il - lus - trate  my last re - mark

Gdim  A7      G    Edim  G       D
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark.

Gdim          D  Edim      B7                           E7
What did they do just when ev' - ry - thing looked so dark?

A7         G         A7        D    G   D              G     D
Man, they said "We'd bet - ter ac - cen - tu - ate the positive

A7    G  A7             G     A7
"E - lim - in - ate the negative

     D     G   D           G      D
"And latch on     to the affirmative --

A7               G     A7     D   Edim B7
Don't mess with Mister In-Between, no, no, 

A7               G     A7     D
Don't mess with Mister In-Between."

Here's a bit of backstory I picked up recently from lyrics guru Ron Hontz:

Johnny Mercer grew up in Savannah, GA and, as a youth, would often visit black churches to hear the sermons as well as to listen to the music. He took great pleasure in listening to one Daddy Grace, Savannah's premier evangelist, who nce preached a sermon called "Accentuate the Positive." That sermon stayed with Johnny into his adulthood. He was riding in a car with composer Howard Arlen when Arlen began whistling what Johnny called 'an offbeat little rhythm tune' and the sermon sprang to mind. By the time they reached work at Paramount, Johnny said, the song had just about written itself. Johnny honored Daddy Grace by including in the lyrics "listen while I preach some" and "Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark."

--From “America’s Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs Of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley” by Philip Furia and Michael Lasser.

The lyric and guitar chord transcriptions on this site are the work of The Guitarguy and are intended for private study, research, or educational purposes only. Individual transcriptions are inspired by and and based upon the recorded versions cited, but are not necessarily exact replications of those recorded versions.