Wednesday, December 16, 2015

30 Days of The Fade Out: Darn That Dream.

We've been spending some time with the real-life cultural touchstones of The Fade Out, and we conclude our journey through issue #4 with something that writer Ed Brubaker discussed in the back pages of the issue, the song "Darn That Dream."

Victory Street actors Maya Silver and Tyler Graves had a contrived night on the town to feed the publicity machine, and Charlie talks with Maya afterwards.
"What'd you dance to?"
"Darn That Dream..."
"Well, that's fitting... but a bit unsubtle... Darn That Dream... It won't come true..."
In the letters pages, Brubaker writes that he knows that Charlie "slightly misquoted" the song, and he recommends that interested readers track down the rendition by Billie Holiday, "which takes it to the depths of dispair, [unlike] the siwng band era versions, where you have to stop and think to realize the song is a tragedy."

There are times where I quite like songs where dark lyrics are obscured by ebullient music:  the contrast and the tension can be interesting, and I can redirect my focus depending on my mood.  For examples much more recent than the big band era, I'd point to U2's grossly underrated single from 1997, "Discotheque," and to David Gray's hit 2005 single, "The One I Love."  Both were the lead singles from their respective albums, and I'd say more about each song, except I think listeners should discover these two songs for themselves.

"Darn That Dream" was published in 1939 and introduced in the Broadway musical Swingin' the Dream.  By 1948 and the era of The Fade Out, it had only been recorded three times, all around 1940.  Billie Holliday recorded the song in 1957, as did quite a few others through the 50's and 60's, including Miles Davis, Tonny Bennett, Doris Day, Thelonious Monk, and Ella Fitzgerald with Nelson Riddle.

What version was Charlie and Maya thinking of, apart from what was probably played by a live band?  Perhaps it was the original version by Benny Goodman and his orchestra.

Billie Holliday's version has an entirely different feel, with the music more relaxed and the singing much more wistful.

Darn that dream and bless it too
Without that dream I never would have you
But it haunts me and it won't come true
Oh, darn that dream

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