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Doris Day 1922-2019

Doris Day died today, aged 97, leaving behind her the guiltiest of pleasures. I imagine that back in 1963 I was not the only teenaged boy to be stirred by “Move Over Darling”, a “girl group” record sung by a 41-year-old woman, co-written and produced by her 21-year-old son. Did Terry Melcher feel weird as he sat in the control booth of a Hollywood studio in 1963, listening to his mother wrap up the song he had written with one of the sexier fades ever delivered by a middle-aged woman famous for starring in frothy comedies: “You’ve captured my heart and now that I’m no longer free, make love to me…”?

Commissioned as the theme tune for a movie in which Day starred with James Garner and Polly Bergen, the song was co-written by Melcher with Hal Kanter, a showbiz veteran who had worked on Blue Hawaii, and London-born Joe Lubin, who had written for Danny Kaye and cleaned up the lyric of “Tutti Frutti” for Pat Boone. The arranger was Jack Nitzsche, then spending most of his time writing charts for Phil Spector. Nitzsche did a typically great job, particularly in the way the backing vocals overlap the lead at the start of the middle eight, intensifying the song’s graceful flow. And that has to be Hal Blaine knocking out the Spector-lite version of the baion beat — bom / bom-bom — that underpinned so many hits. The strings and voices give the whole thing a lovely texture.

I suppose it’s one of those records, like Louise Cordet’s “I’m Just a Baby” and Connie Stevens’ “The Greenwood Tree”, that lurk in the collection and aren’t brought into polite conversation. But what the hell. Once a welcome aid to growing up, now it’s nothing more or less than two and a half minutes of prelapsarian California pop perfection. RIP, Miss Day.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tim Adkin #

    Sad. Think I’ll play that nice duo album she did with Andre Previn later on by way of tribute and then follow that with the Terry Melcher Reprise LP where she sings harmony on a wondrous take on Jackson Browne’s ‘These Days’. RIP Doris.

    May 13, 2019
  2. Richard Harris #

    Agree about her album with Andre Previn’s trio, I was a total sceptic until I heard that, Doris being of an image and era, I recoiled from. But that session is a gem.

    “Louise Cordet” eh? Haven’t heard THAT name since way back then! My guilty pleasure is “Tintarella di Luna” sung by Mina (1960). Once heard on a Pinky & Perky show, never forgotten.

    May 13, 2019
  3. Richard Barrowclough #

    You certainly weren’t the only one. I remember being driven somewhere by my Mum in our old Rover 90, in the days when car radios were quite something, when ‘Move Over Darling’ came on, and practically melting thanks to a combination of awed delight and embarrassment. Rest in Peace, DD.

    May 13, 2019
  4. Alan Codd #

    I only accidentally and incidentally discovered that Doris Day used to be a jazz singer, and the 10” LP Doris Day The Voice of Your Choice, that marked or marred my childhood, was not entirely representative of her capabilities, drawing very much as it did from her Comedy/Film routine format. I found a 45 r.p.m. EP without a sleeve, of Doris Day singing jazz numbers, in a charity shop. Have always listened to her voice differently since. RIP.

    May 13, 2019
  5. John Seaton #

    This is a piece I’ve been yearning to read. You must have articulated the feelings so many of us have had for a very long time. Thank you, and also for the additional information about the recording. Not so guiltily now, I will listen to it again!

    May 13, 2019
  6. Mick Steels #

    Soon as I heard she had passed went straight to “Move Over Darling” and fifty five years later it still works it magic. Every time she was referred to as the girl next door this song would be playing in my mind….

    May 13, 2019
  7. Graham Morris #

    Richard, you’ve done it again! Brought back a memory and captured my feelings exactly. I love your blog. Always interesting, sometimes introduces me to great, new (to me) music, and sometimes like this reminds me of how I felt as boy in the late 50’s and early teen 60s. Thank you.

    May 13, 2019
  8. roger standen #

    Terence Davies paid his respects to Doris Day in this wonderful sequence from his film The Long Day Closes

    May 13, 2019
  9. Still being just slightly older than you, Richard, my Doris song will always be “Secret Love” from “Calamity Jane”. I loved the way Doris seemed always to be filmed in soft focus during her songs.

    May 16, 2019
  10. It must be 50+ years since I heard that, a song unmentioned in all the obits I read. Lovely to hear it again. Thanks Richard.

    May 19, 2019
  11. Henry Ayrton #

    I don’t think you should feel guilty about “Move Over Darling”, Richard, especially after nailing it so perfectly. In fact, I don’t think we should feel guilty at all about our supposed lapses of taste, not if the music is true to itself. “I’m Just a Baby” is another case in point, with Mlle. Cordet’s faux-naïf vocals underpinned by that bluesy, throbbing bass line, courtesy of Tony Meehan’s finely-judged arrangement and production.

    May 29, 2019

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