The American Dream

i'll buy that dream2
What does the “American Dream” look like?

If the year were 1945, the answer to that question would be something like this: finding the right mate, having a traditional marriage, owning a home, earning enough money to support a family, raising that family in a land of plenty, and being able to retire comfortably in one’s old age.

The end of World War Two in 1945 ushered in a whole mood of exuberance throughout the United States. Our victorious warriors returned home with visions of peace and prosperity. Of course, from the perspective of 1945, such a dream was not too far-fetched. Two parent families were the norm and only one parent worked outside of the home. The wife/mother stayed home, managed the home and cared for the children, while the husband/father went off to work each day, earned enough to support his family, and possibly was able to save some of that money in the bank for the future. What more could anyone want? In 1945, the “American Dream” was alive and well.

The bright hopes of these returning from war young men and women were expressed in a catchy hit song that came out that same year: I’ll Buy that Dream:
Imagine me with my head on your shoulder
And you with your lips getting bolder
A sky full of moon and a sweet mellow tune
I’ll buy that dream

Imagine me in a gown white and flowery
And you thanking Dad for my dowry
A church full of folks, those last minute jokes
I’ll buy that dream

A honeymoon in Cairo, in a brand new autogyro
Then off to Rio for a drink
We’ll settle down in Dallas
In a little plastic palace
Oh it’s not as crazy as you think

Imagine me eighty three wearing glasses
And you ninety two making passes
It doesn’t sound bad, and if it can be had
I’ll buy that dream

Imagine me with my head on your shoulder
And you with your lips getting bolder
The sky full of moon, a sweet mellow tune
I’ll buy that dream

Imagine me in a gown white and flowery
And you thanking Dad for my dowry
A church full of folks and those last minute jokes
I’ll buy that dream

A honeymoon in Cairo in a brand new autogyro
Then home by rocket in a wink
We’ll settle down near Dallas
In a little plastic palace
It’s not as crazy as you think

Imagine me on our first anniversary
With someone like you in the nursery
Oh, it doesn’t sound bad
And if it can be had
I’ll buy that dream

This song was written by Allie Wrubel and Herb Magidson and featured in the RKO motion picture Sing Your Way Home. In this musical comedy, Jack Haley (you may remember him as the Tin Man in 1939s The Wizard of Oz) plays a self-absorbed journalist returning home after the end of World War Two with a ship filled with young performers who were trapped in Europe four years earlier while entertaining the troops. Haley’s character says of the situation, “You take a bunch of boys and a bunch of girls together, fooling around, and the first thing you know you’ve got… well, uh, you’ve got… complications.” The youngsters are still eager to perform and, when not “fooling around,” take every opportunity to burst into song. I’ll Buy That Dream, sung in the film by Anne Jeffreys (reprised by Marcy McGuire and Glenn Vernon), is one of those songs. The piece was nominated for an Oscar® as Best Song. It did not win the coveted award that year, losing to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s It Might As Well Be Spring from State Fair. Other Wrubel/Magidson numbers from Sing Your Way Home are the very forgettable songs, Heaven Is a Place Called Home; Seven O’Clock in the Morning; and Who Did It? Anyone remember those ditties?

While the lyrics are pretty straightforward, there is a term that appears in the song that needs explanation. That term is “autogyro” as in the line, “A honeymoon in Cairo in a brand new autogyro. . .”

An autogyro is a type of rotorcraft that uses an unpowered rotor in autorotation to develop lift, and an engine-powered propeller, similar to that of a fixed-wing aircraft, to provide thrust. While similar to a helicopter rotor in appearance, the autogyro’s rotor must have air flowing through the rotor disc to generate rotation. Invented by the Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva to create an aircraft that could safely fly at slow speeds, the autogyro was first flown on 9 January 1923, at Cuatro Vientos Airfield in Madrid. Those who are fans of the James Bond films will remember Little Nellie, the autogyro featured in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. That craft was a Ken Wallis WA-116 design and was piloted by Wallis in its film scenes. In the film, it was shipped by “Q” in four suitcases and assembled before use.

The miniature helicopter, Little Nellie, as seen in the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, here at a convention with its creator and pilot, Wing Commander Ken Wallis

The miniature helicopter, Little Nellie, as seen in the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, here at a convention with its creator and pilot, Wing Commander Ken Wallis


The song was recorded by several artists, three of which charted on the Billboard charts: Helen Forrest and Dick Haymes, Harry James and his Orchestra, and Hal McIntyre and his Orchestra.

Between 1938 and 1943, Helen Forrest was a featured singer with not one, but three of the biggest bands of the era: Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and Harry James. It was with the Harry James Orchestra that Helen Forrest recorded what are arguably her most popular numbers, including 1941s I Don’t Want to Walk Without You and I Had the Craziest Dream in 1942. In 1942 and 1943, Helen Forrest was voted the best female vocalist in the United States in the Down Beat poll. In 1944, Forrest made an appearance in the Esther Williams movie Bathing Beauty with Harry James and his Orchestra. She also appeared in the film Two Girls and a Sailor. During the last years of the 1940s, Forrest headlined at theaters and clubs.

Both Helen Forrest and Dick Haymes were contracted to Decca Records and from 1944 to 1946, the pair recorded eighteen duets, ten of them reaching the Top Ten. Particularly successful were their versions of Long Ago and Far Away, It Had To Be You, Together, I’ll Buy That Dream, I’m Always Chasing Rainbows and Oh, What It Seemed To Be. She and Dick Haymes also co-hosted a radio show in the mid-1940s.

Dick Haymes is considered by many to be one of the best singers of the 1940s and 1950. Born in Argentina to a Scots/Irish father and Irish mother, but brought to the United States as an infant, Haymes inherited his vocal gift from his mother who made ends meet during the Depression as a singer and voice teacher. In 1939, while Haymes was trying to impress band leader Harry James with his songwriting talents, ended up as James’ featured vocalist, instead. During the war years, Haymes worked with the Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey orchestras before deciding to go solo. In the mid-1940s, as a solo act, he had his own radio program and co-hosted it with Helen Forrest. In addition to a Decca recording contract, Twentieth Century Fox soon expressed interest in his musical talents. Among his many film leads were State Fair (1945), Diamond Horseshoe (1945), The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (1947), One Touch of Venus (1948), and All Ashore (1953).

The Forrest/Haymes recording of I’ll Buy That Dream reached the #2 spot on the Billboard charts in 1945. It entered the charts on 9 August 1945 and stayed on there for thirteen weeks.

Sharing the #2 position with the Forrest/Haymes recording was the Harry James version with his then-female vocalist, Kitty Kallen. The James version landed on the Billboard charts on 22 September 1945, and lasted for fourteen weeks.

Last, but not least was the Hal McIntyre rendition of the song. McIntyre was an alto saxophonist and a founding member of the great Glenn Miller Orchestra from 1937-1941. Miller encouraged McIntyre to start his own group and the McIntyre Orchestra first played in New Rochelle, New York in 1941. The McIntyre aggregation played many major ballrooms throughout the United States, and also played overseas for troops during World War Two. McIntyre toured extensively with songstress Sunny Gale until the summer of 1951 and maintained the orchestra into the 1950s, backing The Mills Brothers for their 1952 smash hit Glow Worm. His version of I’ll Buy That Dream, with Frankie Lester handling the vocals, reached the #8 spot on the Billboard charts, remaining there for five weeks.

To listen to a song, click on the song title. To download a song, right click on the song title, then right click on Save target as

Helen Forrest and Dick Haymes, Victor Young Orchestra I’ll Buy That Dream
Harry James and his Orchestra, vocals by Kitty Kallen I’ll Buy That Dream
Hal McIntyre and his Orchestra, vocals by Frankie Lester I’ll Buy That Dream

Photo of Helen Forrest and Dick Haymes at the start of Haymes' CBS Radio program

Photo of Helen Forrest and Dick Haymes at the start of Haymes’ CBS Radio program

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