All I Have to Do Is Dream, by The Everly Brothers (their 1st of four #1s)
7 weeks, from 4th July – 22nd August 1958 (including 1 week joint with Vic Damone from 4th – 11th July)
We have an opening chord, then a pause… And then those voices. Those harmonious voices. The Everly Brothers certainly could harmonise.
Dre-e-e-eam, Dream, Dream, Dream, Dream…. Dre-e-e-eam, Dream, Dream, Dre-eam….
This is undeniably a classic, and most people will at least be familiar with the dream dream dream refrain. It’s also a very simple song. A song in which a lover, starved of attention from the object of his desires, turns to dreaming about her. All he has to do is dream. When I want you, In my arms, When I want you, And all your charms, Whenever I want you, All I have to do, Is dre-e-e-eam… You know what this song is going to be about just by glancing at the title. Simple. As.
I can make you mine, Taste your lips of wine, Anytime… Night or day… The Everlys sing (Is it Phil? Or Don? Or Both? Those harmonies are so damn tight they sound like the same voice) before delivering the classic line: Only trouble is, Gee Whizz, I’m dreamin’ my life away… Can we have a shout out for that ‘Gee Whizz’! So dorky; yet so appropriate. So ‘All-American-Boy-Next-Door’.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, and make a bold statement. That this record, ‘All I Have to Do Is Dream’, is the perfect fusion of rock and pre-rock. I’ve been continually mentioning that all through 1958 we’ve had a couple of rock ‘n’ roll #1s here, a couple of easy-listening, croony #1s there. Never before, though, have we had both styles melded together in the one record. This is it. This is where the previous seventy chart-topping records have been leading us. We’ve arrived. Bear with me…
Musically, this is rock ‘n’ roll (very gentle, very country-tinged rock ‘n’ roll, but still) sung by a couple of fresh-faced young things. Don Everly was twenty-one when this hit the top spot, Phil was nineteen. But lyrically this is the same kind of schmaltz guys like Al Martino and Eddie Fisher were churning out back in 1952. Take the line: I need you so, That I could die, I love you so, And that is why… Melodramatic or what? I get that it’s trying to convey the helpless passion of a teenage crush; but I much prefer the cocksure swagger that The Crickets brought to ‘That’ll Be the Day’, or the cynical shrug of the shoulders offered by The Teenagers on ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’.
How long have I known this song? I’ve no idea. Forever? It’s always been there; though it isn’t a song I’d ever rush to listen to. It’s just a little too much on the cheesy side for me, thanks. Structurally, it is an AABA song which I believe, though I’m no songwriter, is code for ‘a bit basic’. It will, though, always remind me of karaoke sessions from my days teaching in Thailand. Along with Andy Williams and The Carpenters, ‘All I Have to Do Is Dream’ was one of the few English songs that my Thai colleagues knew. That’s quite a good barometer of a song’s fame, isn’t it? ‘It’s popular, but do they sing it at karaoke in Thailand?’
Personally, I see this record as Everly Brothers MK I. They’ve yet to hit their stride. They will be back at the top of the UK charts on three more occasions, each time with a song better than this one. They will return with a slightly harder edge, and with huskier voices. There will be no disputing that they are a rock ‘n’ roll act by then. In fact, the next time we hear from them they will be topping the charts with – hands down – one of the best pop songs ever recorded…