Monday, 21 March 2011

Doris Day - Move Over Darling (1964/ No. 8/ 16 weeks/ CBS)

Its slightly surprising to discover that Doris Day had a hit as late as 1964, by which time she was already forty, and had been out of the charts for five years. 'Move Over Darling' is a wonderfully timely performance, though, playing to all of her strengths as a singer, but transplanting them into a recognisably 1960s setting.

Much of the credit for this has to go to her uncredited female backing singers, The Blossoms, who sound like they could be working for Phil Spector. The record is a masterclass in how to use supporting vocals, with the singer's every thought reinforced by The Blossoms, who in turn subconsciously suggest ideas and sensations to her, emotions which Day then goes on to articulate as if they've just come into her mind. Crucially, the arrangement has enough confidence that the listener is paying attention to put these phrases far apart from each other in the song, making it something more subtle and convincing than simple call and response. So the first verse is shared;

Our lips shouldn’t touch...

(Blossoms: Move over darling!)

I like it too much...

(Blossoms: Move over darling!)

That gleam - in your eyes - is no big surprise any-more
Cos you fooled me before!

Then, two verses later, the phrase crosses over from The Blossoms to Doris Day;

(Blossoms: I yearn to be kissed...)

Move over darling!

(Blossoms: How can I resist?)

Move over darling!
You've captured my heart, and now that I’m no longer free...

Doris Day's phrasing is brilliant there, with the first "move over darling" sung in a low, comic register, while the second is high and playful, both carrying a palpable, but different, sort of laugh within them. This a really sexy record, teasing and seductive in a way that can only come with middle-aged know-how. Some of the seductiveness comes through giving the listener a privileged sensation that she's acting out of character, succumbing to temptation, just for his benefit;

Though it’s not right -
I’m too weak to fight - it some-how
Cos I want you right now!
The way... you sigh..
has me way-ving my conscience bye-bye...

An emphasis on vulnerability that also makes the listener more sympathetic towards her - Is this wise? I know that its enticing! All of this flood of intensity through the body is working towards the release of tension that comes after it. The short song is already starting to fade, when we get to the pay-off;

Make love to me!

Which is then repeated three times. It sounds stately and triumphant. Its also helped by its position in time - 'making love' means billing and cooing when sung in 1950s songs, and fucking in 1970s ones. The maturity of the singer and her performance makes it something more ambiguous at this precise point in time, suitable for a magnificently tantalising and tingly song.

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