Boomers Were Dreamers

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?

(Some) Boomers Remember Dino, Desi and Billy

Mister Boomer was listening to an oldies show last week when his ears were hit with a real blast from the past: a song by Dino, Desi and Billy. Mister B had pretty much blocked them from his memory. Sure, he did remember hearing the band’s name, and knew a little about who they were, but that was all. So he was surprised to discover a few tidbits about their time in the boomer-era spotlight. See if you remember:

Dino was Dean Paul Martin, the son of Dean Martin. He was elementary school friends with Billy Hinsche, the son of a real estate investor who owned a casino in the Philippines, where Billy was born. The two friends were in their early teens when they formed an acoustic guitar duo to cover songs by Chad & Jeremy and similar groups. When they decided to add a drummer and go electric, they heard that the brother of a classmate, Luci Arnaz, played drums. Desi Arnaz, son of Lucy and Desi, became their drummer, and Dino, Desi and Billy was formed in 1964.

The boys practiced at Lucille Ball’s house and began playing birthday parties and small events. When the band moved their practices to Dean’s house, his mother Jeanette would listen. She thought the boys were pretty good, so she called Frank Sinatra and asked him to come and hear them play. Old Blue Eyes did just that. He heard the boys play couple of songs and asked if they were interested in cutting a record. Sinatra had a major interest in Reprise Records at the time, and signed them. The boys were all under the age of 15.

Mr. Sinatra promptly told them they would not be playing their own instruments on their first record. To make a long story short, their initial single failed miserably. For their follow up single in 1965, Sinatra and company hired the Wrecking Crew to play the instruments, the super group of studio musicians who played on dozens of records in the 1960s. Then Lee Hazelwood was hired to produce the record, and Red West and Joey Cooper were enlisted to write a song. The result was, I’m a Fool, their first big hit, reaching the number 17 spot in the Top 100.

After four albums, six of their songs reached the Top 100. As time went on, they played their own instruments. The band split in 1970.

Dean Jr. went on to marry actress Olivia Hussey in 1971. She had become known for her portrayal of Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet in 1968. They divorced in 1978, having one son. In 1982, Dino married Olympic skating champ Dorothy Hamill. The marriage lasted two years. As an active member of the California Air National Guard, Dean Martin Jr. was killed in a plane crash in 1987.

Desi Jr., like Dino, appeared in TV shows and movies during and after their stint in the band. From an early age, he was known as a ladies’ man, adopting the womanizing and drinking of his father. He became a father himself at age 15 through his relationship with model Susan Callahan-Howe. Mixing drugs and alcohol, as so many child performers did, landed him in rehab at the age of 25. After a one-year marriage to Linda Purl in 1979, he married Amy Laura Bargiel in 1987. Laura died of cancer in 2015. Currently, he owns the Boulder City Theater in Boulder City, Nevada.

Of the three, only Billy Hinsche continued on in the music industry. He had been writing songs all along, and when his sister Annie married Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys, he found a musical collaborator. Billy toured with The Beach Boys in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. He also had touring stints and studio recordings with Carl Wilson, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs and others. He co-wrote Lady Love with Brian Wilson, Away with Dennis Wilson and Let’s Build a World with Carl Wilson. Billy is also credited as a backup singer, appearing on many recordings, including Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me by Elton John, Joan Jett’s Good Music and Hat Trick by America, among others.

Who knew? Not Mister Boomer. How about you, boomers? Do you have fond memories of listening to Dino, Desi and Billy?