Music

The freshness and vitality of Doris Day’s voice

it has been announced that actress Doris Day has died at the age of 97 on May 13, 2019. American actor Doris Day poses on a red Schwinn bicycle, late 1950s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

it has been announced that actress Doris Day has died at the age of 97 on May 13, 2019. American actor Doris Day poses on a red Schwinn bicycle, late 1950s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)   | Photo Credit: Hulton Archive

Many of us grew up on the song, ‘Que sera sera’ from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 film, The Man Who Knew Too Much. Along with Mary Hopkin’s ‘Those Were The Days’ and some tunes from The Sound Of Music, the Doris Day hit symbolises pure nostalgia. ‘Que Sera Sera’ was clearly the biggest hit for Day, who passed away at 97 on May 13. But it isn’t her only mega-song, as she is also known for ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’, ‘Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps’, ‘Sentimental Journey’ and immortal versions of the evergreen classics ‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Fly Me To The Moon’.

The world largely knows her as a Hollywood icon, acting in films like Pillow Talk, Calamity Jane, Move Over Darling and Don’t Send Me Flowers. Her co-stars included top actors Rock Hudson, James Stewart, James Garner, Clark Gable and David Niven. Her stardom was immortalised in the song ‘I'm Sandra Dee’ from the musical Grease, with the lines, “Watch it, hey, I’m Doris Day, I was not brought up that way.” Yet, barring a few songs, nobody talks of her enormous role as a singer.

Old-world charm

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Day, born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, was one of the most influential, prolific and consistent singers ever. In many ways, she was the female Frank Sinatra. She recorded over 650 songs from 1947 to 1967, traversing genres like jazz, easy listening, Hollywood musicals and bossa nova. Day’s voice was rich and clear. It could be as natural as sunshine, as tender as moonlight or as pleasant as spring rain. She didn't use a falsetto or make any effort to scat like her idol Ella Fitzgerald. Her back-up often included a strong brass section, gentle piano and vibrant chorus lines, giving them an old-world charm.

Interestingly, the singer took the stage name Day after one of her early hits ‘Day After Day’. She focused on singing after hurting her leg in a car accident, which put her off dancing for a brief period. She loved big band jazz, and soon teamed up with (saxophonist-clarinettist) Les Brown and his Band of Renown, producing hits like ‘Sentimental Journey’, ‘My Dreams Are Getting Better All The Time’ and ‘I Got The Sun In The Morning’.

Sonic collaborations

Her other well-known partnerships were with pianist-composer Paul Weston (released on the 1957 compilation Day By Night) and classical-jazz composer Andre Previn and his Trio (on the 1962 album Duet). Her 1964 album, Latin For Lovers contains a string of bossa nova classics, including legendary Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘Desafinado’, ‘Corcovado’ and ‘How Insensitive’.

There’s a rare recording of her version of ‘The Sound Of Music’, along with arranger Axel Stordahl and his Orchestra. Her solo hits like ‘Pillow Talk’, ‘Lullaby Of Broadway’, ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’, ‘A Secret Love’ and ‘It's Magic’. Day’s musical legacy is something that needs to be discovered slowly. And the best thing is that you very rarely, almost never, come across a bad song from her. Day or night.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 1:27:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/the-freshness-and-vitality-of-doris-days-voice/article27140777.ece

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