"Mr. Sandman" (sometimes rendered as "Mister Sandman") is a popular song written by Pat Ballard which was published in 1954 and first recorded in May of that year by Vaughn Monroe & His Orchestra and later that same year by The Chordettes. The song's lyrics convey a request to "Mr. Sandman" to "bring me a dream" – the traditional association with the folkloric figure, the sandman. The pronoun used to refer to the desired dream is often changed depending on the sex of the singer or group performing the song, as the original sheet music publication, which includes male and female versions of the lyrics, intended. Some time later, Ballard also rewrote the lyrics for Christmas use as "Mr. Santa". The chord progression in each chorus follows the circle of fifths for six chords in a row. Singer Dorothy Collins charted with "Mr. Santa" (#51, US trade Music Vendor. 1955). The song was later recorded by Tony Sandler and Ralph Young (1968) and Suzy Bogguss. Emmylou Harris' recording of the song reached the top-ten on the U.S. country singles chart in 1981.
The Chordettes' recording of the song was released on the Cadence Records label, whose founder, Archie Bleyer, is credited on the disc's label as percussionist (using his knees) and orchestra conductor. Bleyer's voice is heard in the third verse, when he says the word "Yes?" The piano is played by Moe Wechsler. Liberace's name is mentioned for his "wavy hair" and Pagliacci, for having a lonely heart (a reference to the opera Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo).
The single reached #1 on the Billboard United States charts and #11 in the United Kingdom charts in 1954. In November 1954, The Four Aces, backed by the Jack Pleis Orchestra, released a version that charted even higher in the UK, reaching #9 and in the same year, a version by Max Bygraves reached #16 in the UK charts. The most successful recording of the song in the UK was by Dickie Valentine, which peaked at #5. On the Cash Box magazine charts in the US, where all versions were combined, the song also reached #1.
There are numerous other recorded versions of the song including versions by Chet Atkins, Mocedades, Blue Diamonds, Marvin Gaye, Gob, Jose Melis, The Chipmunks, The Supremes, The Andrews Sisters, Pomplamoose, The Puppini Sisters, Blind Guardian, Linda McCartney, Al Hirt, the Orlons, The Osmond Brothers, SYML, and The Fleetwoods, Les Paul and Mary Ford (Capitol).
Joe Loss and his Orchestra recorded it in London on November 1, 1954. The tune was released by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalog number BD 6184. Vaughn Monroe with Orchestra recorded it in 1954 which was released as a single on RCA Victor label as catalog number 47-5767.
A modified version for children was recorded on Golden Records by Anne Lloyd (with "the Sandpipers and Orchestra", referring to the group also known as the "Golden Sandpipers"). The revised lyrics included "... bring me a dream/ And wrap it up in a pretty moonbeam/ I'd love to dream that I really can do/ The things that Santa Claus and Peter Pan do" and "...bring me a dream / Bring me a dream that's sweeter than peaches and cream./ Give me a pumpkin (punkin) coach like poor Cinderella/ A pretty satin dress all green and yellow (yella)".
It has been featured in a number of TV and film soundtracks including The Simpsons, Futurama, The 4400, Charmed, Grease 2 (sung by the movie's "Peptones" contestants from a male-to-female viewpoint), Back to the Future, Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag, Mr. Nobody, Nip/Tuck, Groundhog Day, Philadelphia, Planet 51, Uncle Buck, I Saw What You Did, Cry-Baby, Halloween II, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Family Ties, Haven, Doctor Who and Deadpool. A version by the band Oranger also featured as an intro song and later on a cutscene in the video game Stubbs the Zombie - Rebel without a Pulse and can also be heard in the video games Mafia II and Little Big Planet 3. It is also used in a Kia Optima commercial when The Sandman gives the owner a dream about the vehicle while the song plays as background music. In the Philippines, a version of the song with slightly altered lyrics was used in a TV advertisement promoting McDonald's Big N' Tasty and in the UK, a pastiche version was used in 2014 by the payday lender, Wonga, with words promoting their product. It was also in an episode of the television series Grimm named after the song. It was most recently used in a trailer for the video game Fallout 4 VR (2017).
"Mr. Sandman" was also famously sung as a lullaby on The Golden Girls in the season five episode "Not Another Monday" when Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche are trying to help a newborn, Francis Lilistrand, fall asleep.
Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) can be seen singing a piano-accompanied version with his mother, Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) on piano in the second episode in season two of Bates Motel. Nan Vernon's cover of the song (produced for the soundtrack of Halloween) was also used to accompany a pivotal scene in the ninth episode in the fourth season of Bates Motel.
In the late 1970s, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt recorded a version of the song for a planned trio album which was ultimately scrapped. (The three would eventually reunite and record the first of two Trio albums nearly a decade later in 1987). Harris included the trio recording of "Mr. Sandman" the song on her 1981 album Evangeline, though with the stipulation that it not be released as a single (given that Parton and Ronstadt both were affiliated with other record labels). However, when Harris later changed her mind and wanted to put the song out as a single, she rerecorded it, singing all three parts herself, and releasing it in 1981, under the title "Mister Sandman". The single reached number 10 on the U.S. country singles chart, and number 37 on the Hot 100, making it Harris' only single to reach the top 40 on that chart.
Harris's single version did not appear on an album until the 1984 compilation Profile II: The Best of Emmylou Harris.
|US Billboard Hot 100||37|
|US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)||10|
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||42|
|Canadian RPM Country Tracks||1|
|Dutch Top 40||8|
|New Zealand Singles Chart||16|
In 1996, German power metal band Blind Guardian released a single with a cover version of "Mr. Sandman." While the song starts in a similar mood to the original, it becomes increasingly aggressive, introducing heavy metal guitars in the second verse and a double bass drum in the third.
"A Headache Tomorrow (Or a Heartache Tonight)"
by Mickey Gilley
|RPM Country Tracks
(Emmylou Harris version)
May 16-May 23, 1981
"Am I Losing You"
by Ronnie Milsap