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Dario Vanni At The Movies

 

Sample Songs

Tender Is The Night
I Fall In Love Too Easily
Theme From 'Exodus'
What Is A Youth

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The Movies' Greatest Hits, Volume 1

(DV-MV-565608-1)

Introduction by Clarkspur Emden

CONFESSIONS OF THE MAGIC LANTERN

Notes & Commentary by Clarkspur Emden

Life seems almost unbearable without magic. I grew up as a child in a remote English hamlet with little entertainment from the outside world.

The two radio stations we did receive were invaluable to an imaginative little boy. The BBC would broadcast Sir Thomas Beecham conducting the Halle Orchestra and Beethoven’s thundering fifth symphony would thrill me from head to toe. The other station played popular ditties, some English, some American. For whatever reasons, I loved the American Hit Parade and it seemed that British singers (with a few exceptions) were simply emulating the Americans.

The other cultural stimulus I received happened much more rarely, but, when it did, my whole world came alive. About forty-minutes on a road over meadow’d hills and grazing sheep, we drove to Sheffield—and the cinema! Perhaps once a month, if Mum or Daddy fancied a film, we’d pack in the car and visit the magic lantern in the darkened theatre. I think it was called something ubiquitous like the Lyceum or something similar. My sister Pamela, who was my senior by several years, had seen The Wizard of Oz in 1939 in London and was forever singing Over the Rainbow until the family banished her to her bedroom as we registered our complaint from the out-of-tune assault on our ears.

The magic lantern…what wonders it produced! It spoke to me, confessed its deepest secrets to me there in the darkened theatre. As a teenager, I found increasing motivation to attend these Technicolor marvels and never lost my awe of them. Even the early “telee” (television) could not compete with that huge screen and bigger-than-life dynamic sound of horns, strings, drums, and sound effects. Musicals (and historic costume melodramas, I must confess) were my favorite escape. During and immediately following the war years, the Lyceum could not afford first-run new releases from Hollywood, so we would sit there in the dark watching Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald sing their hearts out in Naughty Marietta (1936) or similar fare. What an education I received witnessing the history of the musical cinema, but, also, listening carefully to the soundtracks of action features or love stories, observing as the music enhanced the scene greatly. I think it was then that I began to think of myself as one day being involved in ascertaining what the best music pouring from the magic lantern should sound like and what it should accomplish for an audience. Hence the young critic was born.

By the time I met Dario Vanni, I had become a fairly well-respected music critic. From my childhood exposure to the eclectic, I remained so and, therefore, sat in judgment of all music from classical to early jazz, blues, and popular music on both sides of the Atlantic. But my specialty was the symphony and classical vocal events. Eventually, I was sent to New York as a critic-at-large, to give my two cents on the American music scene. My popular tastes were acquired through some of the fine ladies I had the privilege to court—and some of them were excellent teachers. And so I learned both sides of the musical rail and faithfully reported back to my newspaper in London.

I first heard Dario sometime around 1967 while covering the Chicago Symphony with Fritz Reiner conducting a Richard Strauss festival. There was this posh supper club in some hotel right off State Street that I frequented. One Friday night, after one of the Strauss concerts, I made my way with some lovely young thing to The Queen’s Arms (I think that’s what it was called) to hear this handsome young tenor. Well, let me tell you, in the hour and fifteen minutes he was on the stage, I (along with the rest of the considerable audience) was spellbound and delighted. The comely young woman with me was emotionally and sensually moved by this voice. She told me as much. As a critic, that’s always a good sign to me, for the female population is the biggest purchaser of live musical venues as well as the recorded music marketplace.

I didn’t know such voices as Dario’s still existed, for you see, his technique was that of an age past, an art form now pretty much forgotten. Yet what was remarkable about the lad was his versatility. He also possessed a natural and sincere showmanship, never pretentious. In that short span of time he sang to us, he had covered everything from Dean Martin to Mario Lanza! Dario was what we call in the trade a “tuxedo act,” classy, sophisticated, and personable. So I introduced myself and we became “friends-at-large,” he on tour for eight years from his California home in Santa Barbara and me, a Londoner hailing from New York City. That said, I wrote up a few his performance events through the years. But he was unknown to my newspaper and often the article was not published. Lamentably, Dario had no recorded sound to represent him at the time, so all we had was the man “live” in his respective venues. To this day I do not understand why some record label did not snatch him up and push the hell of their publicity department. But I think I know why: it was the time of the “changing of the guard,” as we say in England, that wonderful popular and semi-classical music (“classical pop”, Dario used to call it) was going out of vogue, giving way to rock ‘n roll, hard metal, folk, and other popular sounds of the day. The record producers were nervous and edgy, not sure of popular music’s direction. After all, it’s a far cry from Mario Lanza to Megadeath! It was then that drugs seeped into the cesspool of what was known as the popular American music scene, a place where electronic noise took the place of talent, bands, and singers came and went faster than a lonely cowboy in a bordello. The mainstream popular music shifted its predominance from white to black within a decade. The English invasion, the Stones, Beatles, etc., had also had a huge impact on the continental singer. For God’s sake, Dario Vanni did Julio Iglesias before there was Julio Iglesias! This wonderful singer arrived at the end of a system of things, a kind of vocal anomaly. For people like me, he was an island in the stream of otherwise musical chaos. Thousands of others felt the same way. But the great nightclubs were dying out as the older “money people” died off, and their children embraced a different music, less romantic, more frenetic. Yet there were hold-outs, islands of quality, sophisticated music being presented live. We are grateful for them.

Regardless of all the above, we are blessed with the legacy that remains to us from the tracks he did set down. None of the recordings in this discography were ever intended for public release. It all had to do with Dario’s curiosity to hear his performance and arrangements recorded in order for him to improve on his “live’ delivery. And that’s how it all came about. So you see, the magic lantern continues to confess it secrets to me. Just as this album is about the motion pictures that flashed by with all their magic and nostalgia, someone picked up that legacy and brought new life to their music. It is time for you to literally take time out of the living equation: darken the room, have a glass of wine, sit back in your most comfy theatre seat, and check out the treasures within this marvelous album. Take a walk with me, not just down “memory lane,” but may we come to realize that true and exceptional talent never grows old or out of fashion. A great voice is always a great voice. Enjoy!

C.E.

1. Thanks for the Memory from The Big Broadcast of 1938 (Robin/Ranger)

I can still see Bob Hope sitting there on that bar stool with Shirley Ross, singing about why they’re not together anymore. It was sad, because the two of them were sooo civil! These Paramount pictures were really staged revues set in some compatible medium, in this case, an ocean liner. In fact, Bob Hope was not yet a star and received small billing under the headliners, W.C. Fields, Martha Raye, Dorothy Lamour, and Shirley Ross. The movie was trite nonsense with songs like Sawing a Woman in Half or Mama, That Moon is Here Again. Bluck! But there was one tune that became fellow Englishman Hope’s theme song for the rest of his life. Thanks For The Memory had umpteen extra choruses, some corny like “Thanks for the memory of crap games on the floor, nights in Singapore, you might have been a headache, but you never were a bore—so thank you so much…”

Dario tackles this tune by cutting it down to verses that I imagine, to him, would give his audiences the right flavor of the song, not too much, not too little. His voice is light-Broadway-ish here, I’d say, with a hint of the 1930s style of “croon,” that is at it should be. As a matter of fact, the tenor does a superb CD album entitled, The Last Crooner (DV-CN-700926-1), including timeless songs like Deep Purple, After You’ve Gone, Things We Did Last Summer, etc. and it’s fresh and marvelous! It’s almost impossible to believe that his grand opera recordings rank up there with the best of them—but I heard the voice personally and can attest to its incredible versatility.

Back to the present song, the singer talks through several crucial bars as his entrance, “Letters with little secrets, that couldn’t be put in a day wire, too bad it all had to go haywire…” Now we hear the actor emerge with polish, control, and certainty of what he wants to do with this little gem that became the theme song for one of America’s greatest one-liner physical comedians and one of its richest men. The accompaniment is unremarkable because I’m certain it was glued together within a day or two of Dario’s performing the song “live” somewhere. Now, if Bob had only heard Dario. . . .

2. The Way You Look Tonight from Swing Time (Kern/Fields)

Jerome Kern (of Showboat and Roberta fame) and Dorothy Fields penned this little gem expressly for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Unlike lots of musicals of the time, Swing Time (1936) did not come from the stage to the screen, but went directly onto black and white film. Astaire had a personable voice to complement has fabulous dancing discipline. He’s another guy I hate: he stole my secret love Ginger right out from under me! (The other man was Tony Martin who took Cyd Charisse from under my nose!) To begin with, the melody is haunting, absolutely married to Fields’ lyrics and emotionally arresting. Good combination, don’t you think? With Kern, romance was never very far away and he had a knack for great and original melody. Witness All the Things You Are, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, They Didn’t Believe Me, Yesterdays, Old Man River, etc., and you’ll know what I mean.

The plush string arrangement sets the timbre for this wonderful song as Dario keeps his voice in that most excellent of romantic places, never rising too loud or disturbing the mood of the song. Sometimes I think I’m listening to a Lettermen arrangement, as the singer inflects some of the harmonies the 1960s group did and ends with a wonderful humming section that winds down this fine song.

3. A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening from Higher and Higher (Mc Hugh/Adamson)

This is the perfect song to make love by. Dario’s carefully nuanced romantic voice fills us with that certain kind of melting quality that only some male voices can deliver. I think men and women feel quite the same when it comes to certain emotional responses. Indubitably, there are some things still so universal that the “suchness of things” is what it is. Some things just are.

In 1943, R.K.O Radio Pictures took a chance on a rising young bobby-soxer idol named Frank Sinatra. Victor Borge, Mel Torme, Jack Haley, and Michele Morgan assisted the rising star in what amounted to witless drivel. Sinatra sang I Couldn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night and the song on this album for the film. His voice was young, good-natured, and showed signs of that smooth singer that would emerge more and more after his stint with big band leader Tommy Dorsey. (I’ll Never Smile Again -1939-). But Dario’s version is so much different that we won’t look for any comparisons here. Again, the wonderful string work sets the romantic mood after Vim Carter’s saxophone enters to put us as close to the pillows as we can go. A fine Jules Newman flute helps the singer during the bridge and winds in and out the rest of the way. Vibraphones and a guitar play in the background with chords and appropriate moving backup. In the midway of the song, the tenor speaks a few romantic words as if the couple were in a fabulous garden of delights and complete love is just around the corner. Va-va voom! Whispering in her ear, he tells her: “Walk once with me in a garden you’ll never forget, and I’ll be there with you, and I’ll touch every beautiful part of who you are…” Whew….I think I need to go and have my temperature checked. This guy’s even getting to me!

4. I Fall in Love Too Easily from Anchors Away! (Styne/Cahn)

Another wonderful musical for a young English lad growing up, this journey aboard ship in 1944 starred a lovely Kathryn Grayson, Gene Kelly, Jose Iturbi, and—you guessed it—Frank Sinatra. Again it was Frank who sang this song in the M-G-M Technicolor musical to swooning effect, I am sure. He was nearing the height of his first incarnation. Good times and bad times were yet to come.

I am especially fond of this Dario Vanni arrangement; it’s as close as he gets to jazz-big band sounds in this album. The piano, bass, and strings begin conventionally enough, but soon we hear the playful sound of a jazz organ singing along with the accompaniment. After the first 16 bars, the brass enters (bass trombones and low trumpets) and builds with Dario. Then he ad libs the melody, having so much fun the band simply joins him, with good drum work from Hardy Morgan. In a wonderful casual style, he wraps up the song with some patter: “Terribly, terribly hard, honey, I gotta watch that stuff—I gotta stop tippin’ that shoe-shine boy so much!” Great line! The significance of the line is that during the 1920s through early 1950s, well groomed men, with very well maintained shoes from which you could see yourself, attracted women. Dario conducts the snare drum and instruments to an abrupt halt and we have a wonderful and original arrangement of a hit standard from out of the annals of the magic lantern.

5. Tender Is the Night from Tender Is the Night (Fain/Webster)

The 1962 20th Century Fox Cinemascope movie was evidence that Hollywood was losing its grip on the public as this sticky, slow-moving film told its story. Jennifer Jones, Jason Robards, Jr., Joan Fontaine, Jill St. John, and others tried to save this 1920s period piece about a mentally unstable wife and all the emotional drama that it stirs up. The soundtrack, however, was good and the theme song in this album played in and out during the film’s more romantic scenes. The main song is actually lovely, which is why, I’m sure, Dario chose to sing it. Webster’s lyrics are up to his best work, “Should tomorrow find us disenchanted, we have shared a love that few have known…even tho’ our dreams may vanish in the morning light, we loved once in splendor, how tender, how tender the night.” A few artists recorded the song at the time, including Andy Williams, who, in my opinion, did a fine job. Unfortunately, his abundant breathiness was both an asset and, in the end, a detriment to his career.

Not the case with Dario Vanni. This is a lush arrangement by flutist Jules Newman with a haunting French horn and strings introduction. Dario begins softly with the French horn in unison with him. He builds the second verse by adding a haunting soprano over-voice. As he hits the top note and goes from an mf to a pp decrescendo, it is a fine musical moment with lots of feeling. Oh, Dario, did you feel that pain once upon a time? Only a finely trained singer can do that flawlessly, but I’m sure Dario didn’t think twice about it. The orchestra takes over for a few bars and then the singer winds it up with a large “with the morning light!” and then comes back down to a soft, melting last note.

6. This Land Is Mine from Exodus (Gold/Boone)

The young Christian singer Pat Boone wrote the excellent lyrics (1960) to this forceful, dramatic song for the motion picture Exodus. Israel has fought for its existence since before Biblical times. In 1947, someone decided to cut out a piece of Palestine and call it Israel, under the protectorate of the United States government. Conflict rages unto this day. Nevertheless, it is a moving experience to feel that one’s “land” must be fought for and some deeply seeded unrest follows a nation around like a tiger preparing to leap and pound upon that nation. Everyone needs to feel at home somewhere. Humans are territorial by nature and in the human ethnic mix, we are somehow polarized to resist universal integration. Hence the conflicts of the world.

This dramatic number, set into C-minor by our singer, shows a rare and darker voice than we are used to hearing. But, by golly, it works wonderfully and he appears to take on the role of the Jewish heir to the desert land in the mid-east, asserting his feelings. Under the nationalistic layer, there exists the instinctual and tribal desire to have a mate and family: “Tho’ I am just a man when you are by my side, with the help of God I know I can be strong….” When Dario hits the last high-G, it’s all high-drama with a glorious note on the word “die!” This is a big arrangement with stirring strings and miscellany instruments supporting an honest, dramatic production number. It’s got my vote!

7. Thee Is Mine from Friendly Persuasion (Tiompkin/Webster)

A charming 4-star movie, this Gary Cooper-Dorothy McGuire Civil War story about Quakers maintaining lives and identities, had a very successful theatre run and is still regarded as one of Hollywood’s best G-rated films. Pat Boone, who wrote the lyrics to our last entry, sang the title song in 1956 (with Paul Francis Webster’s fitting lyrics) and deservedly made it into a popular hit. In my earlier notes, I regarded Pat Boone as the end of a line of true crooners. His warm, smooth and deep baritone created several hits in his early career, prior to his giving up popular music for secular tunes.

The performance here is also warm, beautifully sung, and with that tenor top range Dario uses, a bit more poignant than previous renditions. When the singer climaxes “put on your bonnet, your cape and your glove!” it gives us chills. Movie songs can be boring, redundant, and pretty trite, but many of the tunes written in the 1950s and 60s had a lot of substance or were just plain fun to listen to. Compositions like Hernando’s Hideaway, The Man That Got Away, Young at Heart, I’ll Never Stop Loving You, All the Way, Tender Trap, Love Look Away, Gigi, Around the World, Moon River, etc., to name a few, entered into mainstream American musical culture and remained for years.

The flowing Jules Newman arrangement with moving strings and tinkling harpsichord has an arresting simplicity, just like the melody and lyrics to the song. A short French horn interlude brings back the voice with ascending strings and horns in background harmony, adding a little “beef” in the lower strings to support the vocalist’s dynamic high note near the end. The song resolves quietly in the peace of the countryside.

8. As Time Goes By from Casablanca (Hupfeld)

Who would have guessed that a simple 1931 song by an unknown songwriter named Herman Hupfeld would show up many years later as the indispensible theme to an immortal movie classic? When Sam plays the song and Rick’s painful expression reflects its history (“Play it, Sam!”) and Ilsa is torn up by it, we know we have a hit. At its core, the song is not “romantic” in the true sense out of context; it’s a lesson song, one that decries the fate of human sexual behavior into a smug statement of its reality. After all, it’s “jealousy and hate” that drives the passion so often, would you not say? The film was made and released in 1942 at the time Algiers was under Nazi siege, eleven years after the song was written! Who remembered it? Who called it back from the Land of Forgotten Songs?

This track has the tenor in his true range, soaring above the accompaniment with that wonderful warm resonance that soars up with exciting emotional response. The tempo lilts along with keyboard, bass, and strings with a surprise Gil Evans trumpet solo in the middle. Dario comes out of tempo once or twice to accentuate the lyric, but sticks pretty much to the original melody and a fine high-note soft ending, concluded by Gil Evan’s fine trumpet.

9. April Love from April Love (Fain/Webster)

Who remembers what Pat Boone and Shirely Jones did in April Love beside fall in love? Talk about wholesome! This 1957 Kentucky farm-pic reflected the sterile social controls on American sexuality during the 1950s, one reason why there was so much opposition to Elvis. The “moral majority” was invented to maintain a “white-washed” status quo. Pat and Elvis represented opposite sides of the social ethic. Pat’s fine recording of the tune gave him a million seller and Dot records could not have been happier. 20th Century Fox, under people like Henry Levin’s direction, still fought the rising threat of television with big screen gloss, Cinemascope, Color by De Luxe, stereophonic sound and excellent supporting actors like Arthur O’Connell and Dolores Michaels. It worked. For a while. But once big screen color television arrived, the movies had to shift to the likes of Ben Hur, Dr. Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, Raintree County, and, ultimately, the special effects worlds of Star Wars, Dune, or Indiana Jones. It was the era of David Lean on the British side of the Atlantic and Lukas and Spielberg on the Pacific.

In this recording, Dario Vanni could easily be Pat Boone’s tenor blood-brother, for this track flows with the kind of vocal ease Boone could bring to a tune without losing a smidgeon of sincerity. The big difference here is that this recording was made 22 years after Boone’s! And it is arranged in a tenor key, which automatically raises the head resonance. Also of note, the singer begins the song with the original Fain-Webster verse, “Has anybody here seen April…?” and ends the song with a rousing high note to remember. Dario stops the tempo on the second bridge to really capture the flavor of “sometimes an April day can suddenly bring showers, rain to grow the flowers for her first bouquet.” The essential body of Dario’s voice is more “compact” and a bit more driving than anyone else I ever heard record the song. This is not a “cover” song. Dario once told me he did these songs to revive the older hits in revues, enabling live audiences to re-live some of the happy moments they experienced and shared in younger years. I’ll buy that—just as I’ll buy this recording, the warmth and tonal beauty is catching!

10. Pieces of Dreams from Pieces of Dreams (Legrand/Bergman)

The 1970s were a more frank and open time for exploring the reality of the human condition. This 1970 film explores the doubts and fears of a young priest (Robert Forster) who falls in love with a fine young woman (Lauren Hutton) and has his doubts about the church’s position of birth control, punishment, Heaven, Hell, and just what works for post-60s 20th century young people. That’s why the Bergman’s lyrics talk about “those pieces will never fit, what is the sense of it?” and other such references to this “little boy lost, in search of little boy found.” The song asks profound questions about our choices in life and who is watching us make decisions that may or may not be right for us. Life decisions can be daunting as his girlfriend asks, “What’s on the tip of your mind, when will you find, all that you really are, nearly are?”

Dario’s rendition begins with ethereal voices, strings, and deep bass piano notes. When the artist enters, the voice is plaintive—is it he we are speaking about here? I don’t think so. He’s the storyteller, emotionally conveying the dilemma of a young man misplaced in his profession. By the time he sings, “Running away, can lead you further astray!” his voice is soaring the tenor heights with wonderful ease and glowing resonance. This Vanni arrangement could well be inserted into any movie soundtrack that would fit the description of the subject content, that’s how good it is. “Little boy blue, don’t let your little sheep roam,” and, when he winds up the song with “can you be far from home?”, he holds the note until the little sheep do come home! The voice is excellent here, relaxed and exciting at the same moment.

11. Laura from Laura (Raskin/Mercer)

Laura “is the face in the misty light, footsteps you hear down the hall, the laugh that floats on a summer night, that you can never quite recall…” sets the tone, ideally, for this 1945 film noir starring Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, and Vincent Price in unforgettable roles. Raskin’s haunting melody and Johnny Mercer’s perfectly fit lyrics create the mystique and suspense right off. At her peak, the exquisitely lovely Gene Tierney brings director Otto Preminger’s vision to sharp and glamorous focus as the mysterious missing woman.

Dario begins the song with the excellent verse, “You know the feeling of something half-remembered,” a real case for reincarnation. “You know the feeling, of recognizing someone you’ve never met, as far as you can tell,” sets the listener up with light strings and a kind of harp/keyboard accompaniment. The perfect blend of Vim Carter’s wonderful sax, pulsing strings, and Dario’s warm tenor-baritone launch into the chorus, soon to be joined by the ethereal high soprano voice tracing the melody. The bridge shows off Vim Carter’s wonderful ability to improvise without losing the essence of his melody line. When the singer returns, there is a nice high climax formata and a quiet ending with all coming to a very satisfying conclusion to this fine arrangement and performance.

12. Somewhere Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz (Arlen/Harburg)

The year 1939, as we movie buffs know, was the blockbuster year for the golden age of the sound motion picture. Gone With The Wind smashed all box office records with its spectacular original 4-hour running time along with other top-drawer releases that year. Perhaps outliving them all, however, was the film treatment of L. Frank Baum’s children’s book, The Wizard of Oz. L.B. Mayer almost left out the song in this collection after so-so previews in Glendale prior to the film’s national release prompted him to nix it. But he was prevailed upon and the song stayed…and stayed…and stayed. Probably amongst the most beloved of all songs in American popular music history, Somewhere Over the Rainbow immediately summons the child in all of us. Since Judy Garland first sang it to Toto, it has been a classic par excellence.

The Vanni treatment is loving, warm, almost crooned with his delightful personable style. Using the verse to set up the story, the singer really feels “when all the world is a hopeless jumble, and the raindrops tumble all around, Heaven opens a magic lane…” Set in the E-flat key, there exists, once again, that wonderful tenor-baritone sound of Vanni’s, without which, the song would not be the same. He even modifies the verse’s melody to make it more intimate and, in the chorus, adds all the little grace notes to “relax” the mood as if he was sitting on the porch on a summer’s night with us and singing directly to you and me. In the bridge, Dario soars effortlessly up “over the rainbow” in his tenor sound, taking us with him as if he were the guide to take us there. He ends the song with a smooth ascent to a perfect diminishing E-flat and quietly reminds us that we’re sitting there on the porch with him, watching the stars. The Dave Cherry arrangement consists of harpsichord, strings, and over-voices complementing the vocal performance. Just listening over and over again to this track makes me happy. I’m a little boy again…

13. What Is a Youth? from Romeo & Juliet (Rota/Walter)

When Romeo and Juliet first hit the theatres in 1968, I was one of the first critics ready to slam it, inasmuch as I was a proper Englishman not about to allow our famous bard of Stratford-on-Avon to get blemished. Well, was I wrong! The film was a charmer with good acting, editing, cinematography, and music. Two songs with one central minor key melody came out of the picture: A Time For Us and the lesser known What Is a Youth? It is the latter to which I have most regard, for it stems from an authentic song of a 15th century troubadour and its wonderful lyrics by Eugene Walter are simply marvelous.

This has to be one of Dario Vanni’s finest recordings, ever. First of all, he’s in great voice, secondly, his excellent material offers him something to dig his tonsils into and, lastly, his arrangement flawlessly intertwines the two songs from the Paramount motion picture into one extended emotional tour de force. From the very beginning measures of harpsichord, high strings and guitar, we just feel we’re in for something special. The troubadour begins with poignant tones, “What is a youth? Impetuous fire! What is a maid? Ice…and desire….” When this wisdom-filled tune reaches the 6/8 section, all seems frolic and play: “Some they think only to marry, others will tease and tarry, but mine is the very best parry, Cupid he rules us all…” which is the bottom line message of the song, to my mind. Even when “death will come soon to hush us along” we don’t even seem to learn the great lessons that the “moth to the flame” thing says it’ll get ya! By the time Dario sings the “A Time of Us” segment, he shifts gears and the song soars up, up, up, and away. Then, true to his arrangement, he melts us back down again with the pitiful lament: “A rose will bloom, it then will fade, so dies the youth…so dies the fairest maid…” We are left with the beautiful, yet sad, reality that, indeed, youth is but a phase of life and passes from view, except in our hearts, minds, and spirits. This one’s a winner….

14. Be from Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Diamond)

Even being a Brit, I was always a closet Neil Diamond fan. And, when he braved Jonathan Livingston Seagull in 1973 (based on the book by Richard Bach), I had even more regard for the lad. To my knowledge, the film itself was not a great financial success, but the many messages in Diamond’s marvelous writing contributed to the legacy of a higher knowing in the world. So what if the dummies who frequent the box office didn’t get it or were offended because of religious principle or simply because it wasn’t a techno-filled Star Wars? There is always room for spirituality and metaphysical thought. The song on this track is a classic, in my opinion, and is terribly under-rated.

Because I want you to enjoy this song on your own terms, I’m not going to rag on about the modernistic arrangement Dario has rendered here in homage to Diamond and his lyrics. Think of this recording as a benediction to this album, a resting place for the heart and spirit. After all, words only go so far…..C.E.

15. BONUS SELECTION: You’re Breaking My Heart from Dario Vanni’s Great International Hits album.

If you enjoyed this album, perhaps you’ll equally enjoy Dario Vanni’s Great International Hits album.