Mister Boomer freely admits he was a daydreamer in his school days, and continues to be an all-around dreamer to this day. After all, who among us has not drifted into the siren call of a lottery-winning dream?
This time of year was especially conducive to daydreaming for Mister B. In grade school in the 1950s and ’60s, the chirp of birds and rustle of green leaves in a spring breeze had Mister B transporting himself out the window of his classroom into a universe of warm sun, as the smell of blooming flowers and freshly mowed lawns wafted through his mind. Sweet dreams are made of these.
Boomers were always dreamers. They say it’s because we had more leisure time than any other generation that came before us, but Mister B feels even if boomer children were forced to do manual labor in factories or farms as in earlier decades, the daydreams would be there as a mental escape, to the detriment of the work at hand.
As usual with boomer-generation proclivities, a thread appears in the music of our era. In this case, most dream songs during the boomer years are about dreaming for the perfect mate; the One we are waiting/searching for. There were exceptions, but few. In fact, dream songs were so popular that many were recorded multiple times and became hits all over again.
Here are a few notable dream songs from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s that caught the ear of Mister Boomer:
All I Have to Do Is Dream – The Everly Brothers (1958)
The song was written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, the husband and wife dream team who also wrote Bye, Bye, Love; Wake Up Little Susie; and Bird Dog. Chet Atkins played guitar on the recording, which hit the number one spot for the brothers. Talk about dreams becoming reality, this song seemed destined for greatness from the start. Richard Chamberlain recorded it in 1963 and hit the top 10 (yes, Dr. Kildare had hit songs, too); Glen Campbell and Bobby Gentry released their version in 1970; and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band added their version in 1975. For Mister B’s taste, you can’t beat the dreamy vocals of the Everly Brothers.
Dream Lover — Bobby Darin (1959)
Some boomers may not recall that the multi-talented Bobby Darin wrote this song about the woman of his dreams. A year later, he met her while working on the motion picture, Come September. Bobby and actress Sandra Dee had a whirlwind romance and eloped three months later. Tumultuous from the start, the marriage ended after six years, producing one son. Bobby Darin died in 1973, days after undergoing open heart surgery to repair artificial valves that had been installed in 1971.
The tune reached the number two spot, blocked from the top by Johnny Horton’s Battle of New Orleans. The song went on to be recorded by Johnny Burnette (1961) and Ben E. King (1962). Additional recordings followed by Dion, Johnny Nash and Tony Orlando & Dawn. Ricky Nelson recorded it in 1978, and after singing it on Saturday Night Live in 1979, released it as a single and charted with his version.
Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream) — Roy Orbison (1962)
The yearning in Roy’s voice was palpable as he crooned, “How long must I dream.” This dream song was propelled to the number four spot in the Top 10. Glen Campbell released his version in 1971.
Roy contributed another dream song to the boomer collection, too. Roy composed and recorded In Dreams (1963), a song about lost love. His voice covers two octaves in the song, not a feat many others could perform.
Dream a Little Dream of Me — The Mamas & the Papas (1968)
Here’s a fun boomer fact: this song was first recorded by none other than Ozzie Nelson and his Orchestra in 1931. In 1950, Frankie Laine released his version. The song was recorded more than 40 times by top singers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong and Dean Martin. Nonetheless, it is Mama Cass Elliot that boomers hear when they remember this dream song.
Fabian Andre, co-writer of the song, was friends with Michelle Phillips’ parents. She first met him in 1950, when she was six years old, and remembered him singing the song at their home. The Mamas & the Papas were in the recording studio when Michelle got word their family friend had died. She recalled the song and suggested to husband John Phillips that the band record it. They asked Cass to take the lead and the rest is music history. That is Mama Cass doing her own whistling on the tune, too.
Of course, the Mamas & the Papas were California Dreamin’, too (1965).
Dream On — Aerosmith (1973)
The youngest boomer was nine years old and probably listening to the radio and cassette tapes when this song hit the charts. Steven Tyler, songwriter and lead vocalist of the band, said that was roughly his age when the basic melody came to him as he laid under the family grand piano as his father, a classical pianist, played. The song’s super-catchy hook line of, “Dream until your dream come true” is one every boomer could relate to.
At the same time the song sparked dreams for the youngest boomers, older boomers were fighting in Vietnam with their own set of dreams for a life interrupted.
Do you have a favorite dream song, boomers?