The first of four number 1s for the duo in this country, and the best-selling single of 1958. All I Have to Do is Dream/Claudette enjoyed a seven-week run at the top of the charts and established the Everly Brothers as one of the biggest and most influential acts of the next few years.
Don was born in Brownie, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky in 1937, and Phil came two years later in Chicago, Illinois. Born into a musical family, their father Ike was a guitarist and mother Margaret a singer. They sang as the Everly Family on the radio in the mid-1940s, with the boys known as ‘Little Donny’ and ‘Baby Boy Phil’. In 1955 the brothers moved to Nashville, Tennessee. By this point, their musical prowess already had an important fan – family friend Chet Atkins, a record producer and songwriter. Atkins used his contacts to get Don and Phil a record deal, and their first single, Bye Bye Love (later covered by Simon & Garfunkel as the last track on Bridge Over Troubled Water) was a smash-hit, selling over a million and reaching number 6 over here. They continued to work with its songwriters, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant (Bryant’s solo work, Hey Joe, performed by Frankie Laine, had been a UK number 1 in 1953), releasing Wake Up Little Susie, which reached number 2, before working on All I Have to Do is Dream, which was by Bryant alone, and allegedly written in only 15 minutes.
Opening with the lush jangle of Chet Atkins on guitar, All I Have to Do is Dream begins straight away with that memorable chorus, a trick later used by ABBA and Stock, Aitken & Waterman to pull the listener in. If that jangle doesn’t grab you (and if it doesn’t, what’s wrong with you?), the vocals will. Don and Phil’s unique harmonies still sound sublime today. The only misfire is the dated, corny lyric:
‘Only trouble is, gee whiz,
I’m dreamin’ my life away’
Fortunately before you have time to dwell on that too much you’re back into the chorus. This is the sound of the Everly Brothers and Boudleaux Bryant at their best. According to Phil, the acetate featuring Bryant on vocals would have been a hit anyway, such was the beauty of the song. Maybe so, but it’s his and brother Don’s voices, and Atkins’ guitar work, that make All I Have to Do is Dream a classic.
The other song, Claudette, hasn’t aged as well, but it’s a decent enough uptempo acoustic track, written by Roy Orbison and named after his first wife. As a B-side, however, it would certainly have been better than average, and as it helped propel ‘The Big O’ to success and helped buy him a cadillac, then it’s alright by me.
The Everly Brothers tied at number 1 for their first week with Vic Damone’s On the Street Where You Live, but went on to spend most of the summer at the top. During that time, the first parking meters were installed on 10 July, and the British Empire and Commonwealth Games were held in Cardiff from 18-26 July. On the final day of the games, the Queen gave her eldest son Charles the customary title of Prince of Wales, and the presentation of débutantes to the royal court were abolished. And on 1 August, Carry On Sergeant, the first of the Carry On films, premiered. Different in tone from the bawdy humour that was to come, it featured Bob Monkhouse and the first star of Doctor Who, William Hartnell.
Written by: All I Have to Do is Dream: Boudleaux Bryant/Claudette: Roy Orbison
Weeks at number 1: 7 (4 July-21 August)*BEST-SELLING SINGLE OF THE YEAR*
Comedian Jennifer Saunders – 6 July
Singer-songwriter Kate Bush – 30 July
Athlete Daley Thompson – 30 July
Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson – 7 August
Politician Rosie Winterton – 10 August
Singer Feargal Sharkey – 13 August
Politician Philip Dunne – 14 August
Campaigner Margaret Haig Thomas, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda – 20 July