Monday, June 6, 2011

A Dose of Darin: Clementine

“She broke the record
Way under water

I thought that she was doin' fine
I wasn't nervous
Not until the service

That they held For Clementine”

One never knows from where inspiration will arise. This long-awaited return of “a Dose of Darin,” was precipitated by a bit of fortunate happenstance on a recent, less than enjoyable, cross country plane ride. Although, determination of whether the happenstance was indeed “fortunate” or not will be rightfully ascertained in the mind of the reader.

Now, nothing of any great severity or consequence occurred, it was more a series of minor annoyances. The usual onerous volume of New York City traffic made our on-time airport arrival a somewhat precarious proposition. The security machines mechanically malfunctioned lengthening the already torturous belt and shoe removal ecdysiast performance. Once aboard our food, blanket and pillow-free airborne conveyance we all enjoyed the congenial company of the two travelers, previously unknown to each other, who deliriously discovered that they shared this flight in order to attend the same betrothal. So fascinated were they by this unforeseen fortune that it was necessary to discuss this, not uncommon coincidence, loudly and vociferously - sans pause, breath or “inside voice” - with each other and with any other ill-fated, slumber-impaired, imprisoned passenger for the next 6 hours – throughout the airplane one could hear the sounds of noise reduction headphones being thrown continuously and angrily to the floor, having failed to perform under such arduous circumstances. Then, there was the “daisies in May, cliché coming true” (“South Pacific” lyric reference – sorry) of actually having a child, legs flailing, blissfully turning my seatback into a perpetual motion machine akin to the world’s least pleasurable amusement park ride. Both child and parent remained absolutely unmoved by the thoroughly disagreeable sight of the author’s sizeable skull rapidly and repeatedly whipping in their direction, scowl firmly in place. Granted, neither dangerous nor life-threatening conditions existed - it wasn’t William Shatner with whom I conducted the traditional, close quarters seatmate arm-rest grappling - meaning that the airplane wing was gremlin-free; and we didn’t crash finding ourselves on a polar bear and smoke monster inhabited island with a volleyball serving as our closest companion - simply, it just wasn’t exactly an exhilarating excursion. Then, low and behold, through the good graces and serendipity of the Ipod shuffle, came Bobby Darin (finally!) and “Clementine!” While we can probably all agree that it may not be the most delicately worded or politically correct song - insensitivity to weight-challenged citizenry aside - it swings and reverberates with joy and jubilation, and is yet another of the seemingly countless classic performances by Darin. Those 3 minutes and 15 seconds utterly enhanced the mood, feel and character of the journey, setting a tone for the extremely enjoyable 4 days to come

Of course, having one’s humor heightened by the sudden sonics of a Darin recording is probably not a particularly unusual situation among a certain percentage of the population, of which nycityman (and many readers) belong. There’s just almost always something special about listening to Bobby Darin - the sincerity in the ballads, the exuberance in the up-tempo numbers. the dynamic arrangements - singular, distinctive and exceptional, his is the work of a unique artist. Whether it’s the warmth, authenticity and earnestness of “Simple Song of Freedom” and “If I Were A Carpenter” or the finger-snapping bravado and energy of “Bill Bailey” and “Clementine,” it’s not just chance that Bobby is still being listened to, appreciated, talked about and written about. 38 years after his passing.

I hope to return to penning and posting further tales and tunes of Bobby‘s with more reliable regularity sometime soon. The intention is that as long as there is a “…and several butcher’s aprons” there will always be “a Dose of Darin.” Alas, unless I hit Powerball or acquire some of that soon to be available Gabor money (“too soon?” or perhaps “not yet”) or unless one of our noble statesman erroneously and haphazardly twitters a tasteful artist rendering of his jockey-clad “tweet,” to me, thereby assuring me an appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show and securing me a substantial sum in a settlement of a civil suit, I’m not anticipating any rapid influx of wealth in the immediate future, and thusly real employment will rule the day and blog devotion-time will be beset with limits. A further factor that comes into play is the amount of research required for many of the “Doses.” Darin fans are exceedingly knowledgeable and I have no intention of unintentionally erring - and for any possible new Bobby Darin followers, I would never want to lead them factually astray. I treasure the opportunity to present Darin to those who lack familiarity with him as almost an obligation - a responsibility to do my minor best to keep Bobby’s memory alive. Learning the biographical facts of his life – the enduring illness, the secret of his parentage - make his many accomplishments even that much more impressive.

More to come.

Monday, June 6th Birthdays – This posting also marks the triumphant return of celebrity salutations - everyone scream, “yay,” Kermit the Frog-like. I know I am.

1959 Colin Quinn - he never saw a teleprompter that didn‘t baffle him. Former SNL Weekend Update anchor, who I recently saw standing online at the Gristedes on my corner, and that’s really the only reason he’s included.

1955 Dana Carvey - like Quinn, another Saturday Night Live alum, whose message on the occasion of his birthday wrote itself (everyone do it with me) - Well, isn’t that special?

1949 Robert Englund - so many songs come to mind. I’ll list a few, you submit the joke - “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” “Freddie’s Dead,” “Dream Lover,” “Mr. Sandman,” and so on and so forth.

1946 Chelsea Brown - just because you never heard of her doesn’t mean she’s not worthy. She was on Laugh-In and Laugh-In is sacrosanct to me. She is also, by far, the most attractive of today’s birthday greeting recipients.
(Chelsea is standing upper left, next to Goldie Hawn)

1945 David Dukes – not David Duke the former KKK Grand Wizard and 1992 Republican presidential candidate (is there a difference?) but rather the fine film, stage and television actor, who for a short period of time, rented from and resided in, an apartment above my Grandmother’s while appearing on Broadway (Duke was on the Great White Way, that is, not my Grandma.)

1936 Levi Stubbs - one of the greatest voices in popular music, the legendary lead singer of the great Four Tops, he also provided the voice of Audrey II in the movie musical, “Little Shop of Horrors,” Feed Me!

1755 Nathan Hale - Continental Army soldier, captured and hanged by the British while in the midst of an intelligence gathering mission - famous for the quote, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country - you betcha'." Well that’s Palin’s telling of it, anyway, and she’s sticking to it.

From the 1960 album, “This is Darin,“ written by Woody Harris and arranged by Richard Wess - “Clementine.


  1. Oh my darlin nycityman - thank you for this dose of Darin. Clementine!
    It is a bit amazing that you and I had darned near identical plane ride experiences. I hope that yours did not end the same way mine did - I arrived in California. My suitcase did not. (My plane ride did not originate in NYC.) I was on my way to Big Sur in CA. to meet up with my Bobby Darin group to celebrate the 75th anniversary of his birth. We decided on Big Sur for many Darin reasons. We would have loved it had you joined us.

  2. Hi Ann,
    Thanks for the comment. I was headed to Salt Lake City and luckily the luggage was all there. I certainly understand Big Sur as a logical locations to observe Bobby's birthday, so what did you all do there?