Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Dance Party: Dream A Little Dream in a Paper Bag

The anniversary of Cass Elliot's death is today, so she is the star of this week's Dance Party. As one of my favorite old-timers, she has graced these pages several times in the past, including one of the more bizarre clips in the history of this series. In fact, the very song which Elliot is singing below appeared here, in a very different context, last year, when I was reminiscing about the little British film, Beautiful Thing.

This particular tune is the biggest hit Cass had as a solo artist (in fact, though it is remembered as her breakout solo hit, the song was recorded with Elliot's group The Mamas and The Papas, with Cass singing the lead. As the release date neared for the single, the group was clearly falling apart, so ABC/Dunhill, the record company in question, gave Cass separate billing on the recording, a move which angered Papa John Phillips and which hastened the group's disintegration). Her rendition of this song, which was written way back in 1931 and recorded by Ozzie Nelson's band and everybody else under the sun, has become the definitive version. And it crosses my mind, and lips, during every performance of The Nerd, in which I have been appearing at Wayside Theatre.

There is a moment in this very silly comedy in which the characters play a parlor game dreamed up by the eponymous nerd. The rules involve shoes, socks, and paper bags, as you can see:

During the game, the contestants are required to stick their fingers in their ears, turn around in circles, and hum. This ain't Noel Coward, folks, but it gets its share of guffaws. The song which I inevitably hum under that paper bag is "Dream a Little Dream of Me." I have a hunch it does not rival the rendition below. We're still playing your music, Cass!