Monday, November 4, 2013

Does anybody else miss Bobby Darin?

The 40th anniversary of his death, which will fall on Dec. 20, inspired me to listen recently to a bunch of Darin's music. I seldom hear it on oldies stations, and I don't know of any big commemorative reissues. But the guy born Walden Robert Cossotto, who died during a heart operation at 37, was one of the most talented performers of his generation.

He started as a teen-pop idol with the No. 1 hit "Splish Splash." He learned to swing, Sinatra-style, on big ballads ("Beyond the Sea"). He could deliver a Joe Williams-type jazz shout on uptempo numbers ("Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey?"). He could write memorable tunes ("Dream Lover"). He earned an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor, playing a shell-shocked serviceman in the 1963 film "Captain Newman, M.D." Here's a taste of him singing "Mack the Knife" live in 1970; his earlier recording stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard charts for nine weeks and won him a Grammy in 1960 for Record of the Year:

He's gotten plenty of official acclaim: induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2010. Kevin Spacey remains a huge fan: His biographical movie "Beyond the Sea" paid tribute to Darin in 2004, though Spacey was too old to play Darin throughout his adult life. (He was 44 when he shot the film, six years older than Darin when he died.) But he sang well and looked remarkably like Darin in his late years.

Darin probably always knew his career would be a short one: He had bouts of rheumatic fever as a boy and had artificial heart valves installed in his early 30s. Maybe that's why he got interested in politics and folk music as he matured into his 30s, trying to do work with more of a social conscience. (He was a big Robert F. Kennedy supporter and was present when RFK was assassinated in 1968.)

The world of music contains countless "what-if" stories about artists who died young, from Mozart and Mendelssohn to Elvis Presley. I'd guess Darin would have continued to expand his musical songbook -- he was dipping a toe into country music near the end -- and upped the stakes on his acting career. But we'll never know.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone else miss Bobby Darin?


Anonymous said...

Absolutely!! A great performer of any generation..

Anonymous said...

I remember crying when I learned that Bobby Darrin had died. I was 13, and I loved his music. He reminded me of my favorite uncle. When my kids were young, we sang Splish Splash during bath time, and later I taught them Beyond the Sea. A true entertainer gone too soon.

Anonymous said...

I became interested in Bobby Darin after I saw "Beyond The Sea". I barely remember him when he was current, but now I have just about every Bobby Darin song, many in multiple forms. I have the CDs of the "This Is Your Life" and "Night Gallery" featuring him, and every movie he made. I am in two Bobby Darin online clubs, and am still collecting new songs on remixed CD's that I find in stores of new or old merchandise. Oh, to answer your question--yes, I miss Bobby Darin. He could have been even greater.

Susan Cote said...

I miss the brilliance of Bobby Darin's talent. I'm sad that he wasn't able to watch his son grow up, or have the pleasure of spoiling his granddaughters.
I loved how comfortable he appeared in his own skin in his later performances. Mostly though, I wish we could all have see what direction his considerable talent and imagination would have taken him.
We lost a genius when he died.
I wish the Estate would hurry up and release his TV shows on DVD.
The world needs more of him!

Anonymous said...

Yes! He was brilliant in every way.

Lollipop said...

Everyday. He was an incomparable, multi talented, multi faceted entertainer,a social activist, a visionary, and an exceptional human being. I fell in love with him in 1959 when I was sixteen. He was/is my husband's favorite too. He's a much admired man to three generations of my family.

Anonymous said...

Another wonderful talent lost all too early. While watching a Soprano's rerun the other night I ran across a beautiful song at the end of one episode at the closing credits ...after some web searching...I discovered that it was Bobby Darin singing "If I were a carpenter"...worth a listen..

Beverly Havens said...

Yes, Yes, Yes.... Loved his voice. So sad when he died.