"Mr. Sandman" (or "Mister Sandman") is a popular song written by Pat Ballard and published in 1954. It was first recorded in May of that year by Vaughn Monroe & His Orchestra and later that year by The Chordettes and the Four Aces. The song's lyrics convey a request to "Mr. Sandman" to "bring me a dream" – the traditional association of the folkloric figure (but in this context the meaning of dream is more akin to 'dreamboat'). 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.
Emmylou Harris' recording of the song was a hit in multiple countries in 1981. Other versions of the song have been produced by Chet Atkins (1954) and Bert Kaempfert (1968).
Vaughn Monroe, with his orchestra, was the first to record the song in 1954. It was released as the B-side of "They Were Doin' the Mambo", on RCA Victor label as catalog number 20-5767 / 47-5767. This record lacked the complex vocal harmonies found in many later versions of the song.
In December 1954, the song reached No. 1 on the Cash Box Top 50, in a tandem ranking of the versions by the Chordettes, the Four Aces, Buddy Morrow, Vaughn Monroe, Les Elgart, the Lancers, and the Song Singers, with the Chordettes and the Four Aces' versions marked as bestsellers. It also reached No. 1 on Cash Box's chart of "The Nation's Top Ten Juke Box Tunes", in the same tandem ranking, and No. 1 on Cash Box's chart of "The Ten Records Disk Jockeys Played Most This Week", with only the Chordettes version listed initially, but later in a tandem ranking of the Chordettes and the Four Aces' versions.
The song also reached No. 1 on Billboard's "Honor Roll of Hits", with the Chordettes and the Four Aces' versions listed as best sellers, and was ranked No. 12 on Billboard's ranking of "1955's Top Tunes" based on the Honor Roll of Hits.
|Single by The Chordettes|
|B-side||"I Don't Wanna See You Cryin'"|
|The Chordettes singles chronology|
The Chordettes' recording of the song was released on the Cadence Records label on both 78 RPM and 45 RPM formats. Cadence's founder, Archie Bleyer, was the orchestra conductor on the recording and provided a rhythmic beat on the recording, using his knees. 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 a glissando (a flourish common in his music) immediately follows. Pagliacci is mentioned for having a lonely heart, which is a reference to the opera Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo.
This version was used in the 1989 comedy film Uncle Buck, starring John Candy.
In the United States, the Chordettes' single reached No. 1 on all three of Billboard's popular music charts, and was ranked No. 9 in Cash Box's ranking of "1955's Top Pop Records as Voted in the Cash Box Poll".
|UK New Musical Express||11|
|US Billboard Best Sellers in Stores||1|
|US Billboard Most Played by Jockeys||1|
|US Billboard Most Played in Juke Boxes||1|
|Single by the Four Aces featuring Al Alberts|
|B-side||"(I'll Be with You) In Apple Blossom Time"|
In 1954, the Four Aces released a version of the song, backed by the Jack Pleis Orchestra. The Four Aces' version was a top-ten hit in the United States, United Kingdom, and Flanders. The Four Aces' version was notably featured in the movie Back to the Future, when Marty first realizes he is in 1955.
|UK New Musical Express||9|
|US Billboard Best Sellers in Stores||9|
|US Billboard Most Played by Jockeys||5|
|US Billboard Most Played in Juke Boxes||6|
On November 17, 1954, Chet Atkins recorded an instrumental version during a four-song recording session at RCA Victor's Nashville recording studio. Atkins used the Ray Butts EchoSonic guitar amp on this recording, and was backed by celesta, piano, bass, and drums. Atkins' version was released as a single in January 1955. It was Atkins' first single to chart on Billboard's country charts, and reached No. 15 on Billboard's Country & Western Records chart of "Best Sellers in Stores" and No. 13 on Billboard's Country & Western Records chart of "Most Played by Jockeys".
Atkins re-recorded "Mister Sandman" for his 1990 album The Magic of Chet Atkins.
In 1968, Bert Kaempfert and His Orchestra released an instrumental version as a single and on the album My Way of Life. It reached No. 12 on Billboard's Easy Listening chart, No. 14 on Record World's "Top Non-Rock" chart, No. 3 on Record World's chart of "Singles Coming Up", and No. 1 on Cash Box's "Looking Ahead" chart of singles with potential of entering the Cash Box Top 100.
|Single by Emmylou Harris|
|B-side||"Rose of Cimarron"|
|Label||Warner Bros. Nashville|
|Emmylou Harris singles chronology|
In January 1978, 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 release the first of two Trio albums nearly a decade later in 1987). Harris included the trio recording of "Mr. Sandman" 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 Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, and number 37 on the Billboard 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.
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||19|
|Austria (Ö3 Hit wähl mit)||15|
|Canada RPM 50 Singles||42|
|Canada RPM Country 50 Singles||1|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||8|
|Netherlands (Nationale Hitparade)||9|
|New Zealand Singles Chart||16|
|US Billboard Hot 100||37|
|US Billboard Adult Contemporary||8|
|US Billboard Hot Country Singles||10|
|US Cash Box Top 100 Singles||37|
|US Cash Box Top 100 Country||9|
|US Record World Singles||40|
|US Record World A/C Chart||12|
|US Record World Country Singles||9|
|West Germany (Media Control)||14|
|Belgium (Ultratop Flanders)||73|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||83|
|West Germany (Official German Charts)||35|