Taking a song that was then over seventy years old, British rock and roller Joe Brown added his genial Cockney charm to exquisite effect in his cover of the much travelled jazz standard ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’. Appearing on Brown’s nostalgic 1997 album 56 & Taller Than You Think, his ukulele led rendition beautifully delivers the song’s intended sentiments of loss and longing; however somewhere beyond the aching harmonies and heartbroken lyrics, Brown’s avuncular vocals subtly leaven the song’s melancholy.
Written by Isham Jones and Gus Kahn, the song was first published in 1924 and went on to become the subject of many popular recordings by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Eddie Cochran, Jerry Lee Lewis and Django Reinhardt; often with the song being recorded as an instrumental piece.
Sometimes referred to as simply “an entertainer”, Brown has enjoyed a varied career that, aside from his singing and guitar playing, has seen him perform on television, film, radio and even on the West End stage. However, Brown is rightly regarded as a much respected musician who played a not inconsiderable part in the evolution of British rock music in the late fifties and early sixties; with his rockabilly guitar at the forefront of Billy Fury’s 1960 album The Sound of Fury, Brown had his fingerprints all over one of Britain’s most significant rock and roll records.
Brown also had a starring role in Concert For George; George Harrison’s memorial concert held a year after his death. It being one of Harrison’s favourite ever songs, Brown was selected to perform ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’ in a moving final tribute.