Sunday, October 24, 2010
A Sunday Dose of Darin - Things
“A few singers wrote their own material but very few wrote songs for other people at such an early stage in their careers - a clue that he was exceptional.” - Sir Tim Rice
Today, we hark back to our academic days - and I’m afraid that means that there’s an assignment involved. So, take out your blue books (do they still use blue books or are these things done on ipads or something, now?), put away your notebooks (ditto, the very same question), and store the Dodd and Di’orio biographies - this is not open book. Below, you will find a Youtube video with Bobby Darin’s recording of his own, original composition, “Things,” followed by a second Youtube clip of Dean Martin and Nancy Sinatra performing the same song. Your task, as in high school and college essays of old, is to compare and contrast the interpretation that Darin brings to his own work versus that of Martin and his cover version. As a little cultural background to explain the differences that each may bring to the tune - one is an Italian-American, inner-city kid with a lower-middle class upbringing while, on the other hand, the other is an Italian-American, inner-city kid with a lower-middle class upbringing. Begin.
Thanks for that indulgence - the point of all that was that this week’s Sunday Dose of Darin is about Bobby Darin, the songwriter. “Things” was chosen as an example of one of dozens and dozens of Bobby Darin compositions that were recorded by other singers as he wrote material, not only for himself, but for other performers as well. He was remarkably prolific and successful as a songwriter, with an impressive range that included rock, folk, country, pop and film and television scores - yet, I would hasten a guess that most casual Darin listeners are unaware of that fact. Although he primarily wrote alone, his impressive collection of collaborators included Terry Melcher, Randy Newman, Don Kirshner and Johnny Mercer.
Lengthy lists are not particularly creative or entertaining (hence my dislike for “My Favorite Things”) but it would be remiss to discuss Darin’s songwriting without mentioning at least some of the songs, so perhaps just a highlighted few will do - “Queen of the Hop,” “As Long as I‘m Singing,” "18 Yellow Roses," “Multiplication," "If a Man Answers," "Simple Song of Freedom," "Somebody To Love," "Two of a Kind," and "That's the Way Love Is."
While still in this enthralling list mode, perhaps a partial roll of other singers who recorded Darin’s songs is also in order - Bobby Short, Wayne Newton, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Buddy Holly, Dion, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Dean Martin.
“I started as a song writer as a hobby really but it became lucrative because I was fortunate enough to do some radio commercials which allowed me to do some commercial songs that I had written and the net result of that was getting lucky with my own records - 'Splish Splash' and 'Dream Lover.' - Bobby Darin
In 1999, Bobby Darin was posthumously, and deservedly, elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
From the 1962 album, “Things and Other Things” and the number 3 spot on the record charts - Bobby Darin and “Things.”
Five years later, performing “Things” on the Nancy Sinatra TV special, “Movin’ with Nancy"- Dean Martin and Nancy Sinatra - featuring Dean pitching woo at his best friend's daughter.
Finally, I just want to say an appreciative and grateful hello to the very nice members of the Yahoo group, “Darin Lifetime Events 07.” Thanks to you, my Bobby Darin posts get far, far more page views than anything else that I do and there’s really no point to writing if no one is reading. I also know that some of you have spread the word of Sunday Dose of Darin and have left me supportive comments. Knowing that you’re reading each week also keeps me on my toes as I imagine that if I get some important things wrong, you can probably call me on it, so that’s a good thing too. Thanks very much, and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog. - nycityman