Dion, ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’

Dion

My mum introduced me to Dion. His music, I mean – she’s not a close personal friend. She might have had trouble with his drug years, if her attitude to my teenage smoking’s anything to go by. I’m not sure how this squares with her and my dad bringing back container-loads of duty free fags for my brother (13 years younger), but let’s save that one for another day.

So my mum introduced me to Dion a few years ago when she bought me 1975’s Phil Spector-produced Born To Be With You after reading a feature in the Telegraph. Great decision – it’s a truly stupendous record – although she was more into the rock’n’roll Dion and his Belmonts. This Dylan cover comes somewhere in between. It’s from Wonder Where I’m Bound, a cash-in collection of folk-rock efforts originally released in 1969 but reissued this year, and has that familiar, easy Dion swing. Something in his Bronx brogue is enormously warm and comforting and the arrangement sparkles, in a Byrdsian way perhaps.

This place should become a bit of a three-hander now. It’s Junior’s blog of course, but Junior 2 (three and a half to Junior’s six and a third) is increasingly the one who’s most interested in what I’m sticking on the stereo. Well, they’re different types of engagement, I suppose. Junior is now aware of the pop world around her and knows what she likes – and more and more it’s not what I’m choosing. That’s only right. But Junior 2 wants to know all about what I’m playing: she wants to see the sleeves, she wants to exchange croons of “baby blue”, she wants to compare with the Dylan original. Soon enough she’ll decide on her own stuff. That’s only right too.

In the meantime I’ll vainly carry on doing what I’m doing, possibly more frequently.

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The Crystals, ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’

It’s the three-minute warning, so we’ll finish off the Christmas songs with this. Plus we needed another from the superlative Phil Spector album, in honour of the big-haired nutter (that case is ongoing, isn’t it?). Speaking of nutters, his old rival Brian Wilson has just released a Christmas album himself. It’s getting panned. I did buy the recent single unheard, and it’s useless.

This is a sinister record, right? Santa’s painted as this all-seeing disciplinarian, there are threatening chord sequences – you’re not even allowed to cry, for pity’s sake. Again, it’s lucky that Junior doesn’t understand (I think), or she’d be keeping a wary eye on that fireplace. 

The tune and production are immense, but let’s not allow that to disguise the message. You’d better have a long, hard look at yourselves over the next couple of days. You may still have time to turn it around.