339. ‘Daydreamer’ / ‘The Puppy Song’, by David Cassidy

I was a bit underwhelmed by David Cassidy’s first #1 – his cover of ‘How Can I Be Sure’ – to the extent that I gave it a ‘Meh’ Award. But no hard feelings, Dave – I approach this double-‘A’ with open ears.

Daydreamer / The Puppy Song, by David Cassidy (his 2nd and final #1)

3 weeks, from 21st October – 11th November 1973

I do like his committed yet breathy delivery, the way he commits to every, single, sy-lla-ble. I remember April, When the sun was in the sky… I was worried when I pressed play and was presented with the lightest, tinkliest seventies soft-rock intro. But by the time we get to the chorus it’s turned into a nice, swaying pop song, with more than a hint of Bacharach and David to it: I’m… Just… A… Daydreamer, Walking in the rain…

Back in the spring he was in love; now he wanders after rainbows. You get the feeling he’ll be alright, though… Life is much too beautiful, To live it all alone… as he saunters off after that pot of gold. I would like another extra little hook to sell it to me properly. As it is, I quite like it – he won’t be winning another ‘Meh’ award for this one.

Another reason why this disc won’t be getting described as ‘Meh’ is thanks to the song on the flip-side. I have to admit, before listening to it, I feared the worst. The aural scars from the last chart-topper to feature the word ‘Puppy’ still linger. But I needn’t have worried, ‘The Puppy Song’ is a fun, music-hall tune.

If only I could have a puppy, I’d call myself so very lucky… He wants a pup, one to take everywhere and share a cup of tea with (dog’s don’t drink tea, David!) I know that he, No he’d never bite me… Part of me does wonder if the ‘puppy’ is going to be a metaphor – Cassidy’s ‘ding-a-ling’ as it were – but nope. It’s simply a song about wanting a friend.

It’s just as lightweight as ‘Daydreamer’; but more fun. David sounds like he’s enjoying himself, scatting and ad-libbing away. Come the end his friends have joined him for a good old fashioned knees-up… We, We’d be so happy together, Yodelly-odelly-odelly-oh! It’s a song so catchy and good-natured that I can even forgive the slight forays into yodelling.

Though it sounds like a relic from the 1920s, ‘The Puppy Song’ dates from as recently as 1969, when Harry Nilsson featured it on his first album. He had written it for another earlier chart-topper, Miss Mary Hopkin, who also included it on an album. Neither of these three versions stray very far from one another, but think I like the goofiness of Cassidy’s version best.

So, David Cassidy’s brief UK chart-topping career ends on a bit of a high with two very different sounding songs (though I do like the fact that they are both almost exactly the same length). He’d have one further Top 10 hit, though the truth was he struggled with his teen-idol status, and longed to be taken more seriously. The hysteria that followed him around was never to his liking, and it culminated in the death of a fourteen-year-old fan in a stampede at one of his shows in London. He quit touring and acting in 1975, focusing more on recording the music he wanted to. I remember him as a fixture on chat shows and light-entertainment growing up, but it seems he never really managed to feel at ease with himself and his public image. He died from liver-failure in 2017.

Which suddenly turns the silliness of ‘The Puppy Song’ into a tears-of-a-clown moment… Maybe he wasn’t enjoying himself very much at all when he recorded it. Maybe he really did just want a friend? A bit of a downer to end on, maybe. But then, the pop music business often isn’t as happy as the executives would have us believe. RIP David.

22 thoughts on “339. ‘Daydreamer’ / ‘The Puppy Song’, by David Cassidy

  1. badfinger20 (Max)

    Great post…Of all the teen idols of the seventies…I always had a lot of respect for David. I wish he would have been able to play the music he wanted to more…but once you get caught in a show like that…you are stuck.

    You are right…he never looked comfortable in what he fell into…I am jealous…he got to work with Susan Dey!

      1. badfinger20 (Max)

        No it got worse than the Partridge Family… namely the souless Osmonds…
        No… once you are tarred…it’s over.

      2. Pop group members who went on to get critical recognition? Scott and Jacko for sure. Do The Beatles count? How about George Michael? Clutching at straws here, but Midge Ure (Slik)? I suppose we need to define ‘pop’. Madness had a long run of critically well received records that were pop, pure and simple.

      3. Nah, The Beatles were way more than simply a pop group. Meanwhile MJ had the excuse of his pop group days coming when he was just a kid. George Michael is probably the perfect example – he could never quite put Wham! behind him, I don’t think, no matter his solo success and acclaim. He was always on that borderline… Robbie Williams is as much remembered for Take That as his solo stuff, I think… Harry Styles looks like he’ll be the latest in this mold… Pretty sure Scott Walker is the ultimate, as people mainly recognise him for the solo stuff over the earlier band.

      4. Not sure many would acknowledge either Williams or Styles doing anything of note as solo artists. Or much as members of their bands either if truth be told….

      5. To my shame, I hadn’t realised that Mike Nesmith had had such a long solo career… How about Sting? Beyonce? They’re all coming to me now. Justin Timberlake, though he probably falls into the Williams and Styles category (I think you’re being a bit harsh on Robbie’s solo career…)

  2. Nice review, I went off David a bit with Daydreamer but it’s really quite sweet, and The Puppy Song is always a delight, Nilsson was a great songwriter, always classy. When David was in control he had pretty good taste in his choice of songwriters – I Write The Songs & Darlin’, Beach Boys connections, and pre-Manilow for the former, Beatles, 40’s standard If I Didn’t Care, hanging out with George Michael on backing vocals for The Last Kiss.

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