‘Every Heart Is On Parade . . .’

Originally posted August 7, 2009

Welcome to the Ocean. Welcome to the Sea of Meant to Be.
Ferris Wheels. French Brocade. Every Heart is on Parade.
All These Things We Dream. All These Things We Dream.

Those are some of the first lines from “All These Things We Dream,” a song by the Living Daylights that I posted two days ago. Since then, the song’s been downloaded only thirteen times. That’s what happens, generally, when I post something that’s not ever been very popular. And the Living Daylights was not a popular band.

The band was, to be honest, utterly obscure. So obscure that there are very few references to the band on the ’Net. (I searched using the name of the band coupled with the name of each band member. The search was complicated by the existence of the James Bond film of the same name: The Living Daylights.)

There is an entry for a band called the Living Daylights at All-Music Guide, with a different album listed for a different year, and the description of the band and its work is entirely at odds with how the CD I have sounds. It’s not the same band.

A search under “Song” at All-Music Guide for “All These Things We Dream” comes up empty. The Living Daylights is a band that seems to have made almost no impact on modern life, and that’s happened during an era when one can hardly avoid coming to the attention of Google even by accident.

So why am I writing about the Living Daylights and what seems to be the band’s only CD? Because even though it’s always a joy to hear songs and write about songs that I’ve heard for forty years – that’s seventy-one percent of my lifetime – it’s also a distinct and rare pleasure to find something new, something I’d not heard when it came out, and be able to enjoy it to the same degree as I do the music I’ve carried around in my head for years.

And that’s what happened when I came across The Living Daylights on the discount shelf of a bookstore in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, almost eight years ago. All one can judge by in those circumstances is the cover and the song titles. None of that was familiar, but the impulse to buy the CD and bring it home is something that I’m sure every music lover has faced: This CD wants me to buy it, and I don’t know why.

I’m certain that the CD cost me no more than two dollars, a minor investment. And when I got home and heard the first strains of “All These Things We Dream,” I was hooked and the hook set in as the rest of the CD played on.

What’s the frame of reference? Who does the Living Daylights sound like? I called the Texas Gal into the study this morning and played her snippets of four or five tracks. Her overall judgment was that “it sounds a little like Darden Smith,” and of course, over the last two-plus years, I’ve made well-known my affection for Mr. Smith’s work. But her first reaction, her first thought on hearing the Living Daylights was “It sounds like America.” (I asked her later if the meant the band – the “Horse With No Name” boys – or the country, and she said she meant both: “It sounds a little like the band, but it also sounds like life in America.”) Looking for guidance, I checked Darden Smith’s entry at AMG, and the first style listed is “Americana.”

And maybe Americana is as good a tag to slap onto the Living Daylights as any. Years ago, I might have called it folk-rock, balancing the intersection of the acoustic guitars with the rock rhythm section. But that’s a crowded intersection at which to stand, and it’s too easy a label. Maybe it is Americana. Whatever it is, from the opening moments of “All These Things We Dream” through the end of “Anna,” The Living Daylights is one of those CDs that – without being self-consciously and artificially hushed – provides me with a gentle place from which to view the world.

Ten of the eleven songs on the CD were written by the group, with acoustic guitarist and singer Rick Barron being the chief writer, having been credited on all of them. The only cover is a version of Jonathan Edwards’ “Sunshine.” (It’s a decent version of a song that I’ve never particularly liked.) The highlights? Beyond the opener, “All These Things We Dream,” I like “I’ll Be Good To You” with its organ foundation and fills; I also find the wordy “Life Is,” the spare “Medicine Lake” and the melancholy closer, “Anna,” worth attention.

Members of the Living Daylights were: Rick Barron, vocals and acoustic guitar; Paul Peterson, vocals, upright and electric bass, keyboards and percussion programming; Joe Finger, vocals and drums; Troy Norton, vocals and electric and acoustic guitar; Wayne Cullinan, vocals and percussion; and Don LaMarca, acoustic piano, Hammond organ and keyboards. [Note from 2022: Both websites are now gone. Note added May 13, 2022.]

Tracks
All These Things We Dream
I Am Here
We All Shine On
I’ll Be Good To You
Sunshine
All These Tears
Strong Man
Somebody’s Gonna Love You
Life Is
Medicine Lake
Anna

The Living Daylights by the Living Daylights [1996]

Afternote

I should mention the two sites I’ve found that mention the Living Daylights. One is the website of Paul Peterson, also known as St. Paul Peterson, a former Prince protégé. A page on his site about his album Blue Cadillac notes that Rick Barron of the Living Daylights helped on his album. (Thanks for reminding me, Steve!) The other is a site called Professional Drum Tracks, which lists the Living Daylights and shows the CD cover.

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