Dean Martin - Early Performances
October 18, 2013 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Dean Martin - Early Performances

I did not realize until this morning that Elvis's early Sun recording of I Don't Care If the Sung Don't Shine was a cover of a Dean Martin song. Well, it's no wonder -- the young Elvis idolized Dean Martin when the latter had it going on. Well, I loves me some Dean Martin. And here we have a young Dean Martin in fine voice, singing with feeling.

One warning, though -- here there be earworms. Otherwise: enjoy.
posted by y2karl (21 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'd like to see a map of musical genres with the warning HC SVNT VERMCVLOS AVRVM (vermiculos aurium?)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:50 AM on October 18, 2013

When an eel lunges out
And it bites off your snout
That's a moraaaaaay
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:29 AM on October 18, 2013 [11 favorites]

Oh, man, this is making me miss my Grandma so much. She loved her some Dino like nobody's business. She used to say, "He can put his shoes under my bed anytime." I felt so grown up when I finally figured out what that meant. At the time, he was an older guy, but I could still see her point. Even when he phoned it in, there was that twinkle in the eye that let you in on the joke.

How she must have swooned the first time she saw and heard him like this. Big, handsome, smooth like a gentleman but with the hardy working-class stock still showing, having a big old laugh at everyone including himself, and a voice that sounds like he's whispering in your ear. Poor Grandpa. I have no idea who his celebrity crush was.

She couldn't stand that Sinatra character because he was such a bad influence on poor Dino.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:40 AM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Dean + a cigarette + facial scruff + a harmonica + Houston = audience eating out of his hand

(So that's the Dean I remember from my childhood and my parents' tv tuned to him every week, without fail. This is the Dean I was shocked to be introduced to through this.)
posted by maudlin at 10:45 AM on October 18, 2013

Anyone interested in the career of Mr. Dino Crocetti, erm, Dean Martin, should read Nick Tosches's Dino. He really was a force of nature when it came to entertainment and work ethic.

It makes me very happy that I can pick up Dino's LPs for so little money nowadays. His Reprise LPS always bring a smile to my face.
posted by the matching mole at 10:54 AM on October 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yep, the Dean Martin on Elvis was huge -- as big a part of that Memphis boy's makeup as black R&B or white hillbilly country. All that crooning, it's like a Martin homage or imitation. It's funny how there's this huge blind spot in the traditional rock'n'roll story for stuff like this. I call it the Rolling Stone Version of the history of music, which allows Big Mama Thornton but pretends Dean Martin doesn't exist. And not just the cartoonish "Rat Pack" Martin, either; Dino had a long, rich career, which Elvis was apparently more aware of than his sometimes blinkered biographers.

Dino was also the guy who never gave a fuck. His pal Frank sometimes gave too much of a fuck, with increased intensity but less ease. If you have the money, the two Bear Family Dean Martin sets -- the Capitol stuff, from the beginning, and the Reprise stuff, to the end -- are filled with more great performances than you'd ever believe.
posted by Fnarf at 10:59 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Love, love Dino. I recommend Some Came Running, a 1958 film he made with Sinatra, directed by Vincente Minnelli; Martin plays a gambling drunk named Bama. Shirley MacLaine is just--oh, do watch Some Came Running. Thanks to y2karl for giving me an opportunity to think about it.
posted by jwhite1979 at 11:05 AM on October 18, 2013

Nick Tosches's Dino

Oh, yes! Such a great book. It gets some criticism for being "imagined history", but Tosches gets away with it, and he has the heart and soul of his subject. Subtitled "Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams".

I enjoyed his description of how, when Martin & (Jerry) Lewis hit the scene, right at the beginning of the Cold War, they were the biggest act in the history of show business, with audiences that were INSANELY HYSTERICAL in a way that strikes us today as positively unhinged, the tension of that postwar period coming out in huge gulps. It's hard to grasp how big a smash they were, but Tosches takes you there.

All of Nick Tosches's books are great. His book about Emmett Miller, Where Dead Voices Gather will change the way you think about America, race, music, everything.
posted by Fnarf at 11:18 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Truly, he was the Dean of Martins.
posted by clarknova at 12:47 PM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

"Motivation is a lotta crap." -- Dean Martin
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:47 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Jerry Lewis' memoir about his years with Dean is worth reading too.
posted by luckynerd at 2:00 PM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Every time I see Dean Martin I think of my grandfather. Also the son of Italian immigrants from Abruzzo, he was born about the same time, in the same area, just across the Ohio river in Wellsburg, WV. Like Martin, he had an easy charm, especially with the ladies, with a wink and a smile that got him in and out of mischief.

Family lore says they crossed paths a few times in Steubenville bars and nightclubs. But I don't think that's true. Dino wasn't that lucky.
posted by tallthinone at 2:18 PM on October 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

The ever-present cigarette. Did he receive kickbacks from Big Tobacco or was it just part of his shtick?
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:36 PM on October 18, 2013

Maybe a bit schtick but mostly just life as lived then. People smoked like chimneys on TV in the 50s. Think Ed R. Murrow. Or Johnny Carson on the early Tonight Show. Go back further and check out movies from the 30's and 40s. Like The Thin Man -- a detective series featuring a married couple throwing down cocktails morning, noon and night. While smoking, smoking, smoking morning, noon and night. You'd think you were in Europe. Or China.
posted by y2karl at 3:16 PM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Jus re-iteratin', the Nick Tosches book is excellent. His vivid psychological speculations and loose dramatic license make it really come alive in a way that few biographies can achieve.

Also, if you've read the original James Jones post-war novel 'Some Came Running', then you'll know that the movie casting of Dean as the cynical weary card-sharp Bama Dillert is just so totally Dead-Perfect. Especially if you've read the Tosches book.
posted by ovvl at 3:41 PM on October 18, 2013

I really have a hard time believing that there will be another entertainer that comes close to the class, charm, wit and talent that Dean Martin (and many of his contemporaries) had.

If you want some serious laughs - go watch the old Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. Maybe I find them hysterical because I grew up around a group of wisecracking Italian contemporaries of Dean's whereby (and I kid you not), my friends wanted to come hang out at my grandparents house when they had dinner parties. No joke - the banter around the table was absolutely priceless and inimitable, and watching Dean Martin always makes me think of those days.
posted by tgrundke at 6:06 PM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

In my dual role as Jeremy Northam completionist and granddaughter of the woman who slept over Dean's invisible shoes for decades, I was obligated to watch Martin and Lewis, and although it was as uneven and heavily "SEE? HERE IS THE POINT AGAIN, IN CASE YOU HAD FORGOTTEN" as any made-for-TV biopic, I found myself enjoying it a lot. The best parts were the recreations of the nightclub performances, and Northam and Hayes capturing that so-weird-it-works chemistry. It's on youtube in segments.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:17 PM on October 18, 2013

That's a fantastic compilation. Thanks, y2karl, a great find.... I always saw Dean Martin as an ethnic magnet... just as Chaim Potok made me want to be Jewish...Pearl Buck made me wish I was Korean, Dean Martin made me want to be Italian....
posted by HuronBob at 8:21 PM on October 18, 2013


Como e' bella ce' la luna brille e' strette
Strette como e' tutta bella a passeggiare
Sotto il cielo di Roma

Man, is it my eyes or is the Deanster rockin' an earring there ? What was up with that ? Why, I never!
posted by y2karl at 12:36 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ah man. I love Dino like crazy.

What a voice. What a guy.
posted by 26.2 at 1:00 AM on October 19, 2013

Oh, man, how did I miss this: Dean Martin (Live) 1964 -- with quite a different take on On An Evening In Roma -- sans earring, poofy sleeves, nearly ten years older, in command of the stage. Hamming it up and belting it, too.

And this is the Tony Martin mentioned just before therein, whose legs he would or, at least, wished to break....
posted by y2karl at 12:40 AM on October 25, 2013

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