Dream a little dream of Doris Day
For cinephiles and music aficionados, a classic American artist passed away last week. For others, it was a name well known, but perhaps only because Mom and Dad mentioned her. Or maybe they saw a clip in one of those lookbacks at Hollywood’s golden age.
Whether it was the girl-next-door charm in “Romance on the High Seas” (1948) or opposite her best friend Rock Hudson in one of many beloved collaborations (“Pillow Talk” (1959), “Lover Come Back” (1961), she was box office gold. It was her voice, though, that made her the double threat and rocketed her into stardom.
But Doris Day, who died at age 97 on May 13, 2019, isn’t just a history footnote. Her legacy will surely live on, survived by her incredible career as a musician, actress and animal rights activist. Even more so, signs of Day’s extensive influence within pop culture and the arts can still be found today. Just ask French hip-hop artist Wax Tailor, or the late singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. They not only appreciate Doris –– they made hit songs sampling her.
Tailor’s 2005 album Tales of the Forgotten Melodies features the track “Que Sera,” which pulls many of its lyrics from pop culture — all appropriately vintage, as the album title suggests. “Que Sera” is unmistakably modern with its jazzy vibes and overlapping chatter but maintains its old-school flair. The song is a delightful and inventive walk down memory lane. While Tailor adds his own style to this remix, it is impossible not to recall the memory of Doris Day — because it’s actually Day’s voice he samples in a beautiful and haunting echo effect throughout the track.
In fact, Tailor’s use of Day’s “Que Sera, Sera” holds a deeper significance than a simple nod in acknowledgement of her legacy. The original song represents the intersection of Day’s dual career as a singer as well as an actress. Day starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 film “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” and it was Hitchcock who directed Day to sing this beautiful lullaby in one of the scenes. The resulting combination of Day’s considerable acting chops with her vocal talent produced the hit song that would skyrocket Doris Day into even greater stardom.
Winehouse, on the other hand, gives Day a more subtle nod, borrowing the opening notes of Day’s “You Won’t Be Satisfied” in her own song “Help Yourself.” Similar to Tailor, Winehouse adds a modern spin to her sample of Doris Day — but Day’s trademark style remains tangible regardless. Interestingly, Winehouse’s song almost seems to be written as a response to Day’s 1945 hit: Day sings of a lover callously playing with her heart, insisting, “You’re only happy tearin’ my dreams apart.” Winehouse, on the other hand, sings of empathy: “When I walk in your shoes / I understand a man confused,” describing understanding where Day lamented a confused, broken heart.
Other notable samples of Day’s work include Scottish producer Sam Gellaitry’s “Surrender,” a dreamlike, electronic reinvention of Day’s “Should I Surrender” from the 1961 film “Lover Come Back.” Canadian rapper Shad’s album When This Is Over also features a sample of Day’s classic “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” in the track “Wild.” And New Zealand hip-hop group Misfits of Science produced their hit “Fools Love” using Day’s sultry “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps.”
The list goes on — a welcome surprise, given that many would consider Doris Day merely a treasure of antiquity. Yet her iconic image and sound can be found in multiple genres. From modern, big-band covers to New Zealand hip hop, Day remains a titan of the industry.
As heartbreaking as it may be for the world to bid a final goodbye to Doris Day, fans far and wide may take heart in the fact that Doris Day will never really be gone. Rather than a shadow or aching chasm left behind, Day’s legacy casts a brilliant ray of sunshine on the world. Artists will continue to take inspiration from her illustrious career; lovers and romantics will continue to swoon from her romantic comedies and heartfelt love songs; and the world, as always, will continue to dream a lovely, little dream of Doris Day.