Musical Echoing

 Posted by on May 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm  Season 6, Themes
May 212013
 

Deb mentioned this in her recap; it was a nice little musical connection in The Crash….

In a young-Dick-Whitman-in-the-whorehouse scene, we hear Dream a Little Dream of Me. (I’m not sure which of the early versions it was; there were many. It may have been Ozzie Nelson; does anyone have this definitively?)

Most of us associate the song with the “Mama Cass with The Mamas and The Papas” version. This came out in June of 1968, which is when this wacky episode took place.

The lyrics are so sweet:

Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper ‘I love you’
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me

Say nighty-night and kiss me
Just hold me tight and tell me you’ll miss me
While I’m alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me

Stars fading but I linger on, dear
Still craving your kiss
I’m longing to linger till dawn, dear
Just saying this….

An innocent song; a goodnight love prayer of sorts to a lover. I’ve always wondered though about the possible subtext of the song; is this an illicit affair?

One other thing—the song may be about sweetness and love, but the recording was at a tense time. This was basically “Let It Be.” This band was already on its way to breaking up. Note again that it’s “Mama Cass with The Mamas and The Papas.”

Meantime the closing number of the episode is in fact The Mamas and The Papas’ Words of Love–released in November of 1966. And this song’s arrangement gives it that old-timey feeling that sends you right back to the 30s and 40s.

Words of love, so soft and tender
Won’t win a girl’s heart anymore
If you love her,then you must send her
Somewhere where she’s never been before
Worn out phrases and longing gazes
Won’t get you where you want to go
Words of love, soft and tender,
Won’t win her…

You oughta know by now (you oughta know by now)
You oughta know (you oughta know)
You oughta know by now— (you oughta know by now)
Words of love, soft and tender
Won’t win her anymore

And yet these lyrics are just—well, a little rough, to be honest. They pretty much say that your bullshit lines aren’t going to work anymore. But the song doesn’t offer much in the way of solution. Poor Don, whose words and the timbre with which they are delivered have always been a strength (not that his looks have ever been a hindrance….)

So we have these two songs which echo each other, and also reflect how the past and the present overlap; each pointing to the other. In this episode, past and present were confusing as all hell.

(God I love Cass Elliott.)

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  12 Responses to “Musical Echoing”

  1. Some of the greatest music of a great music era

  2. I keep going back to this line, “Worn out phrases and longing gazes / Won’t get you where you want to go.” For so long Don could tout empty phrases to his work, his mistresses, his wife, coworkers and children. They were all swallowed quite easily. His job is predicated on it – tossing out phrases that make a consumer believe something that isn’t even true. Don says it ep 1 – Love was invented (through phrases) by guys like him to sell nylons. And if clients or others didn’t believe his phrases he simply moved on. But now, all of these women and clients are talking back to him, and Don can’t so easily walk away.

    In this episode alone, all of the women of his life are cornering him, and there is nowhere to go. Sally is old enough to call him on his lack of parental closeness. Peggy questions all of his ideas and basic mental stability. Betty says that Don is bad parent and lying to Megan about his whereabouts. Sylvia lives below him and gladly tells him he needs to get his life together as not to destroy hers. Don can’t (easily) move to a new apartment building. He can’t merge another agency. He can’t get a new daughter. They’re all coming home to roost and Don can only drop to the floor in a drugged out stupor rather than answer for his actions.

    So now, these worn out phrases, which was most of what he had as currency, are failing him. He now has to take his clients and these women, “somewhere she’s never been before.”

  3. Yes, it was Ozzie Nelson – Jon O put a nice link to it on another thread.

    • Ozzie Nelson wrote many songs during his long career as a big band leader during the 1930s and 1940s.

      However, it was Fabian Andre and Wilbur Schwandt who wrote the music and Gus Kahn who wrote the lyrics of “Dream a Little Dream of Me” copyright 1931.

      Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra recorded that song first, on 16 February 1931, This was over a year before Harriet Hilliard (Nelson) joined his band. He sang the vocal.

  4. I’ve always thought Dream a Little Dream was about adultery; he’s leaving just at dawn (stars fading), so she asks him to dream of her while he sleeps elsewhere.

  5. Cass Elliot lived in my home town, Alexandria VA, for a time. She attended George Washington High School, which was also the alma mater of Willard Scott, Jim Morrison and “Papa” John Phillips, before going to NYC to find fame and fortune. Her family ran a neighborhood malt shop a few blocks from where I grew up and I remember buying ice cream and comic books there when I was in first or second grade (’60-’62).

    There was something about her voice that was pure magic and we all had lots of hometown pride when The Mamas and the Papas hit the big time.

  6. I always though the song was about about a woman/man that had probably nearing the end of a realtionship, however, one of the couple still ‘loved’ the other.

    That person still ‘wanted’ to believe the night breezes will whisper – I love you, that when Im alone ‘I’ will be blue, please let my kisses linger…

  7. Loved the final song. This episode was full of women and a couple men who aren’t buying what Don’s saying anymore, despite the timbre of his voice. Some of the scenes where he was so earnest, but so totally full of crap were depressing and boring (on the phone with Sylvia and with Sally), but these three were a hoot. His speech before Ken’s tap dance, his pep talk to creative where Peggy practically rolled her eyes, and the speech in his office with Ginsberg and Peggy. “What’s the answer to all of life’s problems? A Chevy!” I liked this episode.

    I’d like to see a flashbacks of who in his life was a role model or what he read that gave him a vision of what a better life looked like. We haven’t seen anyone polished enough cross his path to model how to make the leap from farm boy/whorehouse to car salesman/furrier. He talked to Conrad Hilton about it a little bit about working in the roadhouse. There’s got to be another Hobo type flashback of some sort of traveling salesman/Elmer Gantry/Trouble in River City moment in his past. Uncle Mac can’t be it.

    • What a great idea for a flashback! He must have seen an amazing salesman at some point and thought, I can do that.

  8. I think it’s worth noting, too, that the instrumental opening of “Words of Love” would probably best be stylistically described as “whorehouse piano,” with the tacked felt sound redolent of turkey-red-upholstered settees and all…or such was my thought when the episode ended.

  9. Roberta — I also really enjoyed the Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 tune ‘Going Out of my Head’ which Don was listening to on the Rosen’s radio

    A great tune with some lovely lyrics that completely summed up DD’s state of mind

    ‘I must think of a way into your heart’ — that bloody heart motif again!!

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