Brian May on Doris Day


“Was watching a Doris Day movie out of the corner of my eye while writing, this evening. I really think Doris Day is the most wonderful lady singer in history. I spend a lot of time watching old movies out of the corner of my eye, because my dear wife is devoted to the vintage Hollywood genre, Fred Astaire, James Mason, James Cagney. I love them all, by proxy. I spend a lot of my evenings wondering what some of these singers would have sounded like with the benefit of Pro-Tools, to fix the little inaccuracies. But when the divine Doris Day comes, I go into a kind of trance. It is simply unbelievable how accurate she is. I think one day someone will be able to prove that she had the best pitch of any girl in history. But she is way beyond accurate. Every note is found, approached by various routes according to context, hit with a million different inflections, caressed, adored, and allowed to gently fall to the Earth. She is technically unmatched, adorable, mind-blowingly expressive, and probably the best interpreter of a song I ever saw. I just hope she knows how much she is still loved and respected. Will somebody please tell her? She is the ultimate, as far as I’m concerned. Doris Rocks!” — Brian May

This entry was posted in Actors, Music and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Brian May on Doris Day

  1. Maureen says:

    I love Doris Day so much. I love her as a singer, as an actress-she can do no wrong in my eyes!

    //every note is found//

    Such a great way to describe the way she sings.

    • sheila says:

      Doris Day is/was a total phenom. So so talented. I love to hear appreciation of her and this is one of the best quotes I’ve ever heard in that regard. Yes, that “every note is found” section is so profound and describes perfectly what her singing voice sounds like – feels like!

  2. Rachel says:

    Love Doris. Love this quote! Thanks.

    • sheila says:

      Isn’t it wonderful? I’ve always loved Brian May – love him even more now for “getting it” and being able to put it into words!

  3. mutecypher says:

    Brian has a Rocktober playlist up on Spotify now, and amidst the Hendrix and the Who and Zep, he has Doris’ “Secret Love.” The guy meant what he said. And Jeeze, she can sing.

  4. sheila says:

    Ohhh ! That warms my heart! And yes, girl can sing !! Perfect phrasing, gorgeous sound.

  5. Lesley says:

    As a kid in the ’60s and then as a teen in the ’70s I sneered at Doris because of our disdain for the quaint pre-sexual revolution perspective on sex in her comedies. Her determination to stay pure seemed so silly—what was the big deal? But I started to develop a secret affection for Pillow Talk and especially Lover Come Back. Then later as with so many other artists I shrugged off initially I started to take in the breadth and depth of her gifts, and I became a huge fan. Not only a great singer, not only an actress equally capable in comedy and drama, thriller and farce, but as she shows in Tea for Two and a few others an impressive dancer, too. Seems like a lot of artists with long careers have to pass through a desert period in which fashion blinds people to their greatness. So glad Doris lived past that, though I have no idea if she cares—she seems to have a terrific life away from Hollywood. Thanks for posting this, Sheila, I’ll repost. Btw, any thoughts on which year is the more likely for her birth? I figure she took a couple years off, like people do, but am not sure we actually know one way of the other…

    • sheila says:

      I think the sneering is understandable – although I never did – I saw her movies on TV in the 80s when I was a kid so I didn’t get all that background stuff and just thought she was adorable and the movies were funny.

      Mitchell and I were talking about her during my last trip to Chicago, and we had a really interesting discussion about her “place” at that very particular pre-birth-control-pill time:

      Before the pill, what were your options? If you had sex, you’d probably get pregnant. So then of course the assumption is you should just get married, so you can have sex legally and be protected financially and in the culture, should you get pregnant. The obsession with purity/virginity in some of those movies is like a bygone age – and it is a bygone age – but you could also look at Doris Day in those movies as deciding to have a life OUTSIDE of all the stuff women were supposed to be doing. – she wasn’t just gonna marry and start popping out kids. And she also wasn’t gonna floozy around town, because you couldn’t do that, because you might get pregnant and then where would you be. Instead, she went to work. She was good. She wasn’t a “shop girl” – she usually had a career of some kind.

      I think there’s a lot more nuance in her characters than there seems to be at first glance. And maybe a strident feminist wouldn’t see the nuance – and I think the 70s/80s did a lot of damage to her reputation (although, to be fair, I was a kid in the 1980s and that’s when I saw all those comedies like Pillow Talk, etc. – because they were always on channel 56, the glorious local TV station that played old movies – and when I was a kid, those movies played great! I thought they were hilarious and didn’t at all pick up on social critique.)

      But – on a larger cultural level – it’s like Doris Day was determined NOT to just get knocked up, and the only way to guarantee you won’t get knocked up, is to not have sex. That’s literally the only way. Don’t do it.

      Of course none of this seriousness was going on in Doris Day’s movies – it’s really just more background noise than anything else. And some of the concerns seem sheer lunacy now … really phobic about sex, but I think in the context of that time, people were phobic about sex for sometimes very good reasons. The consequences were huge. Yes, people had condoms, but we all know about how those can go wrong. :)

      and yeah, in regards to your other comments: I mean, the woman could really do it all! And she was a hell of a dramatic actress – in The Man Who Knew Too Much, in Love Me or Leave Me …

      I love her albums, too. I have them all – and totally agree with Brian May’s enthusiasm for her voice!

      My current favorite Doris Day song is so so so silly, but it’s catchy and it cracks me up. “Tunnel of Love.”

    • sheila says:

      I mean … listen to this.

      Talk about a time capsule. But I love it! Listen to those background singers. They just crack me up.

  6. Barbara Hock says:

    If you pay attention to Doris’ movies, the only one where she is really protecting her virtue is “That Touch of Mink” with Cary Grant. In the other comedies, she just stops short of having sex when she realizes the guy is trying to fool her in some way. See the book “Considering Doris Day” by Tom Sanpietro. Please give her a break. The lady could do it all, and she was damn funny too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.