“Dream a Little Dream of Me” is a 1931 song which has seen more than sixty other versions recorded, including Nat King Cole, Michael Bublé, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.
Cass Elliott and The Mamas and The Papas’ 1968 recording sold nearly seven million copies, almost 40 years after the music had been composed by two relatively unknown musicians, Fabian Andre and Wilber Schwandt and the words written by Gus Kahn, one of the most successful lyricists of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.
It was one of the highest chart ratings by the group in 1968 with Cass Elliot on lead vocals.
Dunhill Records gave a June 1968 single release to the song with the credit reading, to John Phillips’ s displeasure, “Mama Cass with the Mamas & the Papas”: it became her signature song, and she performed it with The Mamas & The Papas and as a solo artist until her death in 1974.
The vocal group recorded it by chance. In 1950, in Mexico City, six-year-old Michelle Phillips had met Fabian Andre, one of the song’s co-writers, who was one of her father’s friends. One day, in 1968, she heard that he had died in a fall down an elevator shaft in Mexico City and she remembered meeting that American composer and orchestra leader. She recalled: “He was just a fabulous rake. We liked him a lot. He was a big drinker, however. He loved to play the piano. He was–I have this image of Fabian at the piano all the time. I don’t have any other image of him, as a matter of fact. Just singing and playing and drinking at the piano.”
On hearing of his death, the group started to pick out his song “Dream a Little Dream of Me”, which had been a popular standard in depression-era America, and asked Cass to sing it.
Cass Elliott, who was a hippie singer, fond of hard anti-war ballads, connected with this gentle song in a wonderful way. She was considered by some to be the most charismatic member of the group. While Michelle was the “eye candy” ( a person that is superficially attractive but not interesting in other ways), it was Cass’s powerful, distinctive voice that was a major factor in their success. There is a popular legend about her vocal range, which is said to have been increased by three notes after she was hit on the head by a copper pipe while walking through a construction site.
Elliot confirmed the story, but some friends later said that the pipe story was a less embarrassing explanation for the reason why John Phillips had kept her out of the group for so long, the real reason being that he considered her too fat.
“Dream a Little Dream of Me” was the kind of music she had always wanted to sing, when dreaming of performing on Broadway.
For the six years she performed solo, this song became the main component in her concerts and television appearances. On July 27th, 1974, Cass Elliott sang it for the last time at a sold-out concert at London’s Palladium. Two days later, she died in her sleep: she was only 32 years old.
The song starts with the romantic image of a walk under the stars with a lover and goes on with the need for a sense of security, which can be offered by means of kisses, hugs, and the reassurance that the partner will always be there
Even when one is afraid that all could be lost, thoughts and dreams will help to overcome all doubts and still feel happy