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The Day Doris Day Said Good Night [by David Lehman]

Doris DayThe great Doris Day, who died the other day [May 2019], was celebrated for her work in romantic comedies of the 1960s. She was box office gold with James Garner, Cary Grant, and Rock Hudson. But her real achievement was as a singer. In musical movies she gave outstanding performances as Ruth Etting (in Love Me or Leave Me in 1955) and as Mrs. Gus Kahn (in I'll See You in My Dreams in 1953). One of the finest of all Big Band vocalists, whose version of "Sentimental Journey" is a madeleine that can transport you to 1945, she sang with the Les Brown Orchestra when swing was king.

Maybe her biggest single hit was the Academy Award-winning song of 1956 in Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much in which she played opposite James Stewart. In honor of Doris Day, "Che Sera, Sera" was sung at sing-alongs in smart clubs all over the nation yesterday.

Doris gets her own day in my Playlist:

1 / 4 / 18

Doris Day is a great screen name because
of Oscar Levant’s witticism  (he knew Doris Day
“before she was a virgin”) but mostly because
of the voice of Doris at break of day or when
driving on Rte 17 and listening to  her sing
“Sentimental Journey” with Les Brown (“and
his band of renown”) and “Dream a Little Dream
of Me” or “Someone Like You,” “A Hundred Years
from Today,” or “Love Me or Leave Me,”
the face cherubic, the flip side of Sinatra’s
brooding in Young at Heart, blonde
and relentlessly upbeat, but there is sex in that voice

from the archive; first posted May 15, 2019

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December 30, 2023

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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