Interview for The Telegraph • Thursday, September 1, 2011

Doris Day and Paul McCartney in conversation

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From For Whom The Bell Tells, September, 19, 2011:

In yet another unexpected move, Paul then popped up in the Telegraph in the UK interviewing none other than the legendary Doris Day about her new album. Paul has been friends with the star for years so when the request came in from her office to ask her questions to celebrate her first album of new material in 17 years Paul was happy to oblige. The intimate and thoughtful interview made for a revealing read and a touching tribute to the Hollywood icon – with Paul even sharing the fact that the yellow dress Doris wore in ‘Calamity Jane’ made his daughter Stella want to be a designer.

Stuart Bell

Sir Paul McCartney and Doris Day might seem to come from different worlds — he a giant figure in British pop since the Sixties, she a Hollywood icon with a wholesome image who starred in 39 films. Yet the former Beatle has long been a friend of hers, admiring not only her singing and acting but also her commitment to animal rights.

Now 87, Doris Day is about to release her first album of new material in 17 years. My Heart includes cover versions of the Beach Boys, Lovin Spoonful and Joe Cocker, along with nine brand-new recordings of songs written by her late son, singer and Byrds producer Terry Melcher, who died in 2004.

Day spoke to McCartney at her home in Carmel, California, this year and told him about her new album and illustrious career.

PM I remember ringing you up after watching Calamity Jane in the Sixties to tell you it was the best film and you were the best character.

DD You’re very sweet.

PM My daughter Stella loves that film. She said when she saw you in that yellow dress, that’s what made her want to be a designer. Watching that film, none of us wanted that dress to get messed up when you fell in the mud. And is it true that you didn’t want to sing Secret Love [Oscar winning song in 1954] in the film originally?

DD Yes. It worried me that if I had to sing it in character as Calamity rather than in my voice it might interfere and make it seem so phony. But I was taught to see the difference.

PM With your new album I wasn’t quite sure what to expect because I knew you hadn’t worked in show business for a while as you’ve been looking after your animals. But you seem so perky and I feel that spirit in the album. I think it’s very beautifully sung.

DD It has been a long time. I had a lot of fun doing it and I hope people enjoy it as I enjoyed doing it so much.

PM: I think your fans will go crazy with it. It’s a nice album with beautiful emotions. Is it true when you sing Joe Cocker’s You Are So Beautiful you are singing about the beauty you find in animals?

DD Well I do find the beauty in animals. I find beauty everywhere. I find beauty in my garden.

PM On the album, you’ve included Ohio from [Bernstein’s musical] Wonderful Town. Does it have sentimental value because you grew up there?

DD Of course. All my family lived there. I had a wonderful family including my aunts, uncles and cousins but they’ve all gone to heaven. I’m the only one left so it’s sad for me.

I love Cincinnati and I thought I would stay there until …but all of a sudden, I was zoom, and off to all these different places. That was my life, singing with my band and I’ve loved it ever since.

PM When you’re singing, there’s a lot of emotion in your voice. Is that from your early training with vocal coach Grace Raine?

DD She decided I should have three lessons a week and we couldn’t afford that so she gave me three for the price of one. She was a wonderful lady who had retired from the WLW Radio (a Cincinnati talk radio station). She knew that the words meant so much to me and that’s what she really liked. And they’ve always meant so much to me. I’m singing to someone.

PM That’s great she had such vision to recognise your talent. When you were working with [40s bandleader] Les Brown, what was it like travelling and performing with a bunch of guys at such a young age?

DD I didn’t know much! But they were so marvellous. We had great guys in the band. They were so nice and took care of me, they really did. It was just heaven for me. They were all funny. We laughed all the time and had great fun. Everyone got along. We were a family.

PM That’s so important. We’ve got that with the guys I tour with. We have a laugh and are like a big extended family. It settles everyone down. Everyone knows everyone’s having a good time and it brings out the best in people.

DD You relax and you’re real. That’s what it’s all about. To enjoy what you’re doing for the people. If you’re enjoying it, then they’re enjoying it.

PM You became the armed forces sweetheart [in 1945 with Sentimental Journey]. What was it like for you at that time with the returning soldiers?

DD I loved that song. It made me feel so good to think they were coming home and I loved that.

PM What about Que Sera Sera? It became your signature song and won an Oscar for Best Original Song [in1956]. Why do you think it stood the test of time?”

DD I really don’t know but it was perfect for the movie [The Man Who Knew Too Much]. I often hear from people about that song. They used to sing their children to sleep with it. Isn’t that sweet?

PM I know you’ve been through a lot of difficulties personally, with the loss of your son Terry Melcher in 2004. Did music help you through the hard times?

DD I’m not sure. I miss my Terry every day. But I keep him here and I’m so happy that he’s singing on the album. I used to love to hear him sing and he should have done more things. I get mail from his friends all the time saying he had so much talent and he was always laid back. He didn’t push himself. He was such a good guy and I loved him dearly.

PM I knew Terry a little bit in the Sixties and he was a really nice man. But you were right, he didn’t push himself. I didn’t either though come to think of it. He was a lovely boy. We love him and hopefully he’s looking down on this album saying ‘I’m proud of you mum’

DD That would be the greatest. If he were here now, looking at me and saying that. But I know how he feels and he’s right here.

PM Was there any single moment that made you dedicate your life to helping animals? For me it was when I was in Tennessee once and fishing in a lake. I could see the fish struggling for his life and it was a moment. I thought ‘I don’t need your life’ and I put him back. I haven’t fished since.

DD I’ve just always loved animals. With the band, I couldn’t have any pets then when I went into films and stayed in one place, I could. I’ve had many of them and I still have many.

PM: I know, I’ve been round to your house. Funny how some people think they’re not as important as humans. They don’t realise we’re so privileged to live on this planet with all these beautiful animals.

DD You’re so right. Mine are so sweet. I love helping horses, dogs, every animal.

PM And is it true that on the set of The Man Who Knew Too Much, you demanded from Alfred Hitchcock that the animals on set should be better cared for?

DD I did. Because they weren’t being looked after. They were being used. So I spoke with Hitch about it and he agreed and then they were treated beautifully.

PM And now at the end of every film, there’s a statement saying no animals were harmed making this movie. So you were a pioneer in that, Doris.

DD That’s the way I feel. I just love animals, babies and music.


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Ella R Christensen 3 years ago

I suggest, as a tribute to Miss Doris Day that, he compose a song in her honor. That would be lovely. What do you say Sir Paul?

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