Daydream (John Sebastian)
Daydream (John Sebastian)
In the documentary, Lovin’ Spoonful: A Lovin’ Look Back (see video, 8:02f), John Sebastian describes how the guitar lick which begins the song was written in imitation of the straight eighth rhythmic pattern (with what he refers to as a shuffle that “isn’t all the way expressed”) of Motown songs such as “Where Did Our Love Go” and “Baby Love” by the Supremes.
Sebastian claims that the genesis of the song occurred while the Lovin’ Spoonful was touring with the Supremes in the summer of 1966.* The date he attributes to the moment is inaccurate, since the single was released in February 1966. The summer of 1965 is a more likely time frame for the tour he refers to. The Spoonful’s first single, “Do You Believe in Magic,” was issued in August 1965.
From the book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, by Barry Miles, 2008, p. 288:
The big hit of the summer of 1966 in England was the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Daydream” and it spawned a number of sound-alike songs such as “Lazy Sunday Afternoon” by the Small Faces and the Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon.” “Good Day Sunshine” by the Beatles was another.
PAUL: It was really very much a nod to the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Daydream,” the same traditional, almost trad-jazz feel. That was our favourite record of theirs. “Good Day Sunshine” was me trying to write something similar to “Daydream.” John [Lennon] and I wrote it together at Kenwood, but it was basically mine, and he helped me with it.
However, John Sebastian wasn’t aware of the influence of “Daydream” upon “Good Day Sunshine” until 1984. In the book A Hard Day’s Write by Steve Turner (1999), Sebastian is quoted as saying:
One of the wonderful things The Beatles had going for them is that they were so original that when they did cop an idea from somebody else it never occurred to you. I thought there were one or two of their songs which were Spoonfuloid but it wasn’t until Paul mentioned it in a Playboy interview that I specifically realized we’d inspired “Good Day Sunshine.”
In the 1984 Playboy interview of Paul and Linda McCartney, during the part when Paul was asked to comment upon a number of Beatles song titles, to the prompt “Good Day Sunshine” he said only, “Wrote that out at John’s one day–the sun was shining. Influenced by the Lovin’ Spoonful.”
The Lovin’ Spoonful
- demo recording (date unknown), featuring a lyric significantly different than that of the single
- issued in February 1966** on the single Kama Sutra KA 208, b/w “Night Owl Blues” — singles chart peaks: #2, US Billboard Hot 100; #2 UK — also included on the group’s second album Daydream, Kama Sutra KLPS-8051 (Stereo), Kama Sutra KLP 8051 (Mono), released in March 1966.
From the blog RockPortraits:
‘Daydream’ (US no. 2, UK no. 2), marries a carefree guitar lick to a yawning slide guitar for a gorgeous tribute to laziness. “I’m blowing the day to take a walk in the sun / And fall on my face on somebody’s new-mowed lawn,” chuckles John Sebastian. In between harmonica touches, he whistles along with the song’s melody.
- From an unidentified TV show, probably Hullabaloo, Season 2, Episode 21, which aired on 7 February 1966 — Because of the lack of synchronicity between sound and picture, I presume the video creator dubbed a copy of the original recording onto the video clip.
- Live performance for the Ed Sullivan Show, Season 20, Episode 28 — aired: 19 March 1967***
This clip, from the documentary Lovin’ Spoonful: A Lovin’ Look Back, includes the John Sebastian commentary cited above, in which he describes how the song developed from a desire to write a song that featured a rhythmic pulse resembling that present in the songs “Where Did Our Love Go” and “Baby Love,” as recorded by The Supremes.
- Ed Sullivan Show performance, without the Sebastian commentary
John Sebastian — live, 21 July 1970 at Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
Among the videos to follow are a couple of covers of “Daydream” by trios in which a muted trumpet is prominently featured. It’s not difficult for me to imagine arrangements of the song to be performed by a band that includes trumpet, trombone, clarinet, perhaps saxophone, and a rhythm section. The instrumental breaks in the last 50 seconds or so of the 1967 recording by The Sandpipers are precisely what I have in mind, though the overly sweet vocals seem incongruous to me. Love their recording of “Come Saturday Morning” though. However, while engaged in planning and constructing this page I’ve been perplexed by the discrepancy between my naive impression that the song begs to be performed by various types of trad jazz band, including dixieland, and the evidence of lists of recordings which suggest that it has been largely ignored by such bands. I’ll have to admit though that the slightly earlier song “Hello, Dolly!,” and the contemporaneous “Mame,” both written by Jerry Herman, are better vehicles for dixieland bands.
Not even a recording of “Daydream” by Louis Armstrong released on a 1967 single (Brunswick 55318) appears to have stirred up interest in the song among jazz recording artists. The only other jazz artists to record early covers of the song that I’m aware of were Art Blakey (1966), and Bud Shank (1967), and neither of these interpretations is particularly inspired or inspiring. Lists of covers provided by Wikipedia and SecondHandSongs.com suggest that not many notable jazz artists have covered the song since 1967. I also found very few in my year by year searches of Google videos.
For various reasons, I’ve omitted early recordings by the following artists:
- 1966 — The Fortunes, Dino, Desi & Billy, Sam Chalpin, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, Art Blakey, John Davidson, Kate Smith, Trombones Unlimited
- 1967 — Louis Armstrong (not found), Rick Nelson, Bud Shank, Mike Vickers
- 1968 — Val Doonican, The Four Freshmen
Bobby Darin — recorded 31 October 1966, and released on the 1966 album If I Were a Carpenter, Atlantic 8135 (Mono), Atlantic SD 8135 (Stereo)
Jane Morgan — from the 1966 album Fresh Flavor, Epic LN 24211 (Mono), Epic BN 26211 (Stereo)
The Sandpipers — released in December 1967 on the album Misty Roses, A&M Records SP-4135
Anita Harris — from the 1969 LP Cuddly Toy, (UK) CBS S 63927
Unnamed trio (ukulele, voice, trumpet) — uploaded by Gitarrenrod on 30 January 2011
The High Ground Drifters Bluegrass Band — published on 16 July 2013
- The High Ground Drifters Bluegrass Band (bandcamp.com)
The Moon Loungers — published on 24 July 2013
Chuck and the Kings — trumpet, banjo, and bass trio — published on 2 September 2013
solo, guitar and voice
Charles Moody — uploaded on 13 April 2009
Elodie Martelet — published on 23 February 2014
This is one of the better guitar and voice recordings of the song I’ve heard, featuring impassioned vocals that include inspired scatting and a trumpet solo impression. One oddity: the phrase “new-mowed” (which some people evidently hear as “new-mown“) seems to be pronounced by Ms. Martelet as “new moon.”
Wolfgang Vrecun — guitar solo, with original arrangement — published on 7 April 2012
François Sciortino — published on 5 September 2016
Luca Sestak — uploaded on 4 August 2010
keystyx — uploaded on 26 August 2010
calikokat100 — published on 23 April 2012
Dan Chan — published on 8 November 2012
Luca Sestak — 20 July 2013 at Jazz Festival “Tiengener Sommer”
Tim Gracyk — published on 30 August 2013
melody played on harmonica
Vachet — uploaded on 31 May 2009
See also the separate page
* Somewhat surprising is the incidental detail provided by Sebastian in the same account, that at some stage of the tour (in the South), the groups were traveling together on a school bus(!) which was “pretty decrepit.” The poor quality of the vehicle is odd given that between August 1964 and June 1965, the Supremes had scored five consecutive #1 pop hits, a string of chart toppers broken finally by the July 1965 release of “Nothing but Heartaches,” which stalled at #11. Having a Supremes single peak at such a dreadfully low chart position so aroused the ire of Motown chief Berry Gordy that he responded by having the following memo circulated around the Motown offices:
We will release nothing less than Top Ten product on any artist; and because the Supremes’ world-wide acceptance is greater than the other artists, on them we will only release number-one records.
** The page on Kama Sutra KA 208 at 45cat.com contains the notes “BB Feb 19, 1966,” and “BB Feb 26 – entered Hot 100, reached no. 2 (Apr 9).” According to the Wikipedia page on the song, Kama Sutra KA 208 was issued on 19 February 1966.