"With My Eyes Wide Open I'm Dreaming" featured image. Elsie Carlisle c. 1936.

“With My Eyes Wide Open I’m Dreaming” (1934)

“With My Eyes Wide Open I’m Dreaming.” Words and music composed by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel for the Paramount film Shoot the Works (1934). Recorded by Elsie Carlisle with orchestral accompaniment on August 23, 1934. Decca F. 5173 mx. TB1491-1.

Elsie Carlisle – "With My Eyes Wide Open I'm Dreaming" (1934)

Elsie Carlisle – “With My Eyes Wide Open I’m Dreaming” (1934)

“With My Eyes Wide Open I’m Dreaming” was written by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel for the Paramount film Shoot the Works.1 They had composed “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?” (which Elsie Carlisle also recorded) the previous year for another Paramount picture, and the two songs have similar conceits: the singer expresses surprise at finding herself in a love relationship so ideal that it seems more like a dream than reality. Elsie’s recording of “With My Eyes Wide Open I’m Dreaming” seems dreamy to me mostly because of Elsie’s dreamy delivery; it lacks the otherworldly introduction that the earlier song has. Its atmosphere is greatly augmented by the short  but exceedingly beautiful clarinet and violin interlude. I will admit that Elsie’s voice goes pitchy in the last note of the song; it would stretch credulity if I tried to argue that she did that for effect.

“With My Eyes Wide Open I’m Dreaming” was recorded in America in 1934 by Ruth Etting, Isham Jones and His Orchestra (v. Joe Martin), Ted Hanson and His Normandie Orchestra (v. George Gould), Gene Kardos and His Orchestra (v. Dick Robertson), and Leo Reisman and His Orchestra (v. George Beuler).

In addition to Elsie Carlisle’s, there were recordings made of “With My Eyes Wide Open I’m Dreaming” in Britain later that year by Lew Stone and His Band (v. Al Bowlly), the BBC Dance Orchestra (dir. Henry Hall, v. Les Allen), Jay Wilbur and His Band (v. Cyril Grantham), Madame Tussaud’s Dance Orchestra (dir. Stanley Barnett), Jack Payne and His Band (v. Billy Scott-Coomber), The Casani Club Orchestra (dir. Charlie Kunz, v. Phyllis Robins), Bobby Howell’s Band, and Phyllis Robins.

Notes:

  1. It was released in Britain as Thank Your Stars, presumably because “shoot the works” (referring to the making of a large expenditure or effort) was indecipherable American slang; the expression appears to have faded from use in recent decades.

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"The Idol of the Radio." British dance band singer of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

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