Title: Beyond the Sea Title: La Mer
Artist: Bobby Darin Artist: Charles Trenet
Year: 1960 Year: 1946
Album: That's All Album: N/A - single release only
Bobby Darin's 1960 hit "Beyond the Sea" has such a nostalgic sound you almost can't listen to it without imagining a cheesy movie montage of a couple getting to know each other by walking the dog, eating ice cream in the park, buying each other the same anniversary present, and sitting side by side on a bench in the moonlight. And no wonder! The song started out with a nostalgia head start, having been co-opted from Frenchman Charles Tenet's equally, if not more, popular 1946 hit "La Mer"! Did I know this already? I don't know—I can't remember. Did you? What I do know is your classier movie montage will opt for the (probably cheaper) French version.
They're both fine, if not overly sentimental. I like Trenet's version more for its breezy seaside phrasing and mostly understated arrangement. When Trenet does go overboard, it's because his passion de l'amour cannot be contained! Bobby Darin's version, with new lyrics by Jack Lawrence, seems calculated by comparison and Darin let's the band run wild while he presumably grabs a sandwich from the studio commissary. (All those drum breaks...ugh.) Still, it's a good example of how music was repurposed during this time period—Elvis had a hit that same year with "It's Now or Never," adapting the 1898 Neapolitan aria "O Sole Mio"—and just one of many many reasons why The Beatles would soon be taking over America.