Written by John Stewart
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
February 29, 1980
Anne Murray was one of the most technically proficient singers of her era, and she still doesn’t get nearly enough credit for it.
Her cover of ‘Daydream Believer” sounds effortless on the surface, while she delivers a complicated melody flawlessly. She floats airily above the jaunty piano track, and she nails the hook as well as the Monkees did, if not just a little bit better.
Was there a need for a “Daydream Believer” cover? Probably not, but it was a signature move of hers, taking a classic pop song from the fifties or sixties and delivering it in a way that would fit neatly on pop, AC, and country playlists. It’s not as revelatory as her cover of the Beatles’ “You Won’t See Me,” but it’s just as good as her take on “Walk Right Back,” as far as I’m concerned.
Murray will make several more appearances in the eighties, including an Urban Cowboy classic and a CMA Single of the Year winner. “Daydream Believer” isn’t essential listening like those two records, but it’s enjoyable for every second of its remarkably brief runtime.
“Daydream Believer” gets a B+.
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Not that this necessarily matters, but John Stewart, the writer of “Daydream Believer”, had been, from 1961 to 1967, a member of The Kingston Trio, one of the preeminent acts of the folk music explosion/scare of that time. His 1969 album California Bloodlines, recorded with the Nashville session mafia of the time, is one of those forerunner albums to the alt-country/Americana movement of today. And just the year before Anne’s version of “Daydream Believer”, Stewart had the biggest hit of his career with the FM rock radio classic “Gold” (with Stevie Nicks on harmony).
Anne’s cover, which is very much on par with the Monkees’ 1967 recording, was also a big crossover hit, peaking at a none-too-shabby #12 on the Hot 100.
As a Canadian who grew up with Anne Murray constantly on the radio, she is the Queen of Canadian music. Shania and Celine are her princesses.
Love Anne’s pop country sound of the late 70s and early 80s. While I quite enjoy this song I find so many of her other hits to be better!
I’m a very big Anne Murray fan and I love her version of this song, and the Monkees original is also a favourite. Anne’s voice is so wonderfully mellow and it just takes me back to my first hearing of Snowbird with my dad, he played it for me and I loved it. I also recently heard “A Little Good News” for the first time in years, and it feels as relevant now as when it was recorded – if not more.
@ Joanne. I agree completely on “A Little Good News” was timely then and still timely now. Most likely a top 3 Anne Murray song for me.
“A Little Good News” definitely feels a LOT more relevant now than ever, though I wasn’t even alive yet when it was originally released. Great song, btw!
… a great little tune is a great little tune and a great vocalist is a great vocalist. personally, i prefer the joyfulness of the monkees’ original though.
I have two albums and a hits collection of Anne’s music and I always mean to dig deeper into her discography as I like everything I heard so far!
This sounds good and I think I like it better than the original but it’s not a song I ever loved. I’m sure it would be on the lower end of her hits for me if Iever familiarize myself with them all.
Very timely and it absolutely is a top three song of hers.
Were there any voices in the eighties more warm and comfortable than either Don Williams or Anne Murray? I still listen to both singers when I need to unplug and the world to slow down a bit for me. I find them so soothing and calming.
Anne Murray is yet another one of my favorite artists from the 70’s and 80’s, and I absolutely love her warm, smooth, and calming vocals and the many beautiful ballads she recorded. In a good number of ways, she could almost be seen as the female version of Don Williams, as from most of what I’ve heard from her, she was also quite consistent in picking quality material that was fitting for her mellow style. The only other one I can think of who would have the title of “female Don Williams” is Kathy Mattea, especially her music from the mid 80’s up to the early 90’s.
My intro to Anne Murray was “Danny’s Song,” which I always enjoyed hearing on one of my parents’ mix country cassette tapes. It’s another tape I always loved to pop into the tape deck in my step dad’s 1985 Chevy Blazer whenever we were all riding around when I was little. Another one of her 70’s hits, “A Love Song,” was still getting decent recurrent airplay for us in the early 90’s, and it was even on one of Mom’s LP records in her collection called Country Superstars, which we also recorded on to a tape. Additionally, she also has the duet album with Glen Campbell that they did in the early 70’s.
This lovely cover of “Daydream Believer,” however, is one of the examples of Murray also being able to carefully select uptempo numbers that suit her well. It was actually the Monkees version that I heard first, though, and it’s a song I always enjoyed hearing on the radio during my oldies phase in 1993 and 1994. It’s still a favorite of mine today when it comes to 60’s music, and as Tom mentioned, it’s so irresistibly joyful. That being said, I’ve also fallen in love with Murray’s version over the more recent years, and I enjoy it about as equally as the original. She absolutely nails it, and while I sometimes enjoy it when artists do something to make it “their own” in covering a song, I also love it when covers stay faithful to the original, in which fans of the original can also easily enjoy the remake. Both versions never fail to put a smile on my face and cheer me up.
And speaking of her Beatles covers, I also love her version of “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You.” While it was a bigger Adult Contemporary hit than a country one, it was interestingly still getting recurrent airplay on one of our stations in early 1991, and I even have it on a tape for proof. I’ve always been so fascinated with how long that station kept many of the pop country records from this era in rotation even when the new traditionalist movement was in full swing!
Looking forward to many more Murray hits for this feature!