High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Monday, October 17, 2011

Six Degrees of The Paris Sisters, Part 3: Gotta Hear Me I Been Chevy Chased, David Lynched and Julee Cruised


A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
Tiptoes to my room every night
Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper
"Go to sleep. Everything is all right."

 Dell Rat Ron Shearer is back to 

 help me continue my game of 

 Six Degrees of The Paris Sisters. 

 Perhaps part 3 should be called 

 Tales from the Dark Side! 

 Ron, go ahead 

 and start off 

 this segment. 


 Shady, remember 
 this terrific, soporific 
 scene from the movie 
 National Lampoon's

"Mr. Blue" - Fleetwoods (December 1959, highest 
chart position #1, scene from 1983 movie Vacation

 "Mr Blue" was the perfect song to lull Clark Griswold 
 (Chevy Chase) to sleep at the wheel. 

 The soft, intimate vocal style used by Gary Troxel and 
 The Fleetwoods, Gary's Washington state trio, certainly 
 was sleep inducing, but it was a popular sound during 
 the late 50s and early 60s.  "Mr. Blue" streaked to #1 
 on Billboard and had a chart life of 20 weeks, nearly 
 as long as that of "To Know Him, is to Love Him," 
 the hit single by the Teddy Bears that charted one 
 year earlier. 

 The Fleetwoods went from sleep to trance induction 
 in their 1961 top 10 hit, "Tragedy," a sad and somber 
 recording that had the feel of teenage death rock. 

"Tragedy" - Fleetwoods (June 1961, highest chart 
position #10) 


 The Fleetwoods' version of "Tragedy" was a cover of a hit 
 record released in 1959 by Mississippi born and Memphis 
 based singer Thomas Wayne along with the Delons, a trio 
 of girls recruited from a Memphis high school to sing with 
 Wayne.  In a strange twist of fate, Thomas Wayne's own 
 life ended in tragedy.  He died in a car crash at age 31. 

"Tragedy" - Thomas Wayne and the Delons (May 1959, 
highest chart position #5) 

 Ron, please allow me 

 to jump in and make 

 a few observations.  

Those were gentle ballads,
but they were a far cry from
the rhymey, good timey
moon-spoon-June type of
love songs produced in the 30s and 40s by the Tin Pan Alley establishment. In the late 50s and early 60s some records for teenagers were imbued with a keen sense of despair. Popular recordings of the Great Depression and WWII years urged the listener to brush off the clouds and cheer up and put on a happy face. Songs like "Tragedy" made it okay to cry.


Maybe I've seen one too many
David Lynch movies, but when
I listen to some of the Paris Sisters recordings that we're showcasing and watch their performance clips
I get a chill. I can't help envisioning their sweet songs being used in the soundtrack of a horror movie to heighten the sense of dread and foreboding, much the same as the tender love ballad "Look For a Star" was used in Circus of Horrors, a 1960 suspense thriller that brilliantly juxtaposed beauty and innocence with sadism, cruelty, violence and death.

"Look For a Star" (Theme from 1960 motion picture
Circus of Horrors)
- Garry Mills (August 1960, highest 

chart position #26) 


As a mental exercise, watch this Paris Sisters performance in a scene from the movie It's Trad, Dad! and imagine it in the dark context that I described. Imagine scenes of sheer terror flashing on the screen as these clean, wholesome young women sing their innocent song.  Does the clip take on new meaning?  Does it become surreal? Do you sense the danger? Do you experience a chill?

"What Am I To Do" - Paris Sisters (uncharted B side of 
"Let Me Be the One"/scene from 1962 motion picture 
Ring-a-Ding Rhythm! aka It's Trad, Dad!


Perhaps without even intending, The Paris Sisters were the forerunners of today's dream pop and art rock sub-genres of which modern bands like Warpaint are leading practitioners.

"Baby" - Warpaint (from October 2010 album The Fool


In dreams I walk with you. 
In dreams I talk to you.
In dreams you're mine. 

 Why are there people like Frank? 

 Why is there so much trouble in this world? 

Dream pop was effectively revived in the mid 80s by director David Lynch who made liberal use of it in his work. In the following scene from Blue Velvet, Lynch's neo-noir cult film, Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) and Sandy (Laura Dern) share a magic moment on the dance floor. Notice their childlike wonder as they discover love and how, in dreamlike fashion, their dialogue is barely audible, overpowered by Julee Cruise singing "Mysteries of Love." These are classic Lynch touches that reveal his genius as a movie maker.

"Mysteries of Love" - Julee Cruise (scene from 1986 
motion picture Blue Velvet

Julee Cruise gained worldwide popularity in 1990 when her ethereal vocals were featured even more prominently in the eerie, cutting edge, cult television miniseries Twin Peaks.

"Falling" (theme from Twin Peaks) - Julee Cruise 
(June 1990, highest chart position #11 Modern Rock, 
#7 UK, #1 Australia) 

Nobody but nobody is able to capture childlike innocence and absolute evil, dreamlike beauty and nightmarish terror as well as David Lynch. He frequently juxtaposes opposites for maximum impact.

"Rockin' Back Inside My Heart" (Twin Peaks soundtrack) 
- Julee Cruise (1991, highest chart position #66 UK) 

Julee Cruise's songs from Twin Peaks are gentle and angelic but at the same time profoundly disturbing because they are woven through Lynch's surrealistic tale of madness, mayhem and murder.

Whenever I hear them I find myself nervously glancing over my shoulder looking for Bob, the demon who slaughtered Laura Palmer's cousin Maddy in the scene prior to this one.

"The World Spins" (Twin Peaks soundtrack) - Julee Cruise 
(June 1990 from album Floating into the Night


Director David Lynch was heavily influenced by underground experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger. Anger used the Paris Sisters' recording of the Bobby Darin hit "Dream Lover" as the soundtrack of Kustom Kar Kommandos, a short film inspired by the burgeoning West Coast custom car culture of the early 60s. The project, originally intended to be a full length feature that examined the role of hot rods as fetish objects among American males, was limited to this three minute clip due to lack of funding.

Kustom Kar Kommandos by Kenneth Anger (1965) 
Soundtrack: "Dream Lover" - Paris Sisters (June 1964, 
highest chart position #94) 

 Ron, you've got some where are they now 
 updates for us, correct? 

 That's right, Shady.  After the Paris Sisters disbanded 
 Albeth, the oldest sister, worked for ABC and went into 
 independent TV production with her husband.  Sherell, 
 the middle sister, formed her own band in the 70s and 
 worked in an executive capacity on the TV game show 
 The Price is Right
 as Bob Barker's personal assistant 
 until 2000. Sherell once stepped in as a guest model on 
 the show, modeling a karaoke machine.  Priscilla, the 
 youngest, moved to Paris and became a motivational 
 speaker for sales reps in the hotel industry.  Shady? 


 Ron, I can almost hear that song "Tragedy" 
 playing in the background as I write this 
 because the story of Priscilla Paris also has 
 a tragic ending, right there in Paris, France. 

The velvet voiced lead singer of the Paris Sisters established a solo career in the mid 60s but it came to an abrupt end in the late 70s when an accident left her with facial paralysis. Then, in 2004, amid plans for a professional reunion of the Paris Sisters, Priscilla died at the age of 59 from injuries suffered in a fall at her home in Paris. And so, one of the most distinctive voices of the 60s was silenced.

"Stone is Very, Very Cold" - Priscilla Paris (from the 1967 
album Priscilla Sings Herself


In some circles The Paris Sisters are called one-hit-wonders, yet today their sound is hotter (or cooler?) than ever. The dreamy, breathy, sensual vocal style popularized by Priscilla Paris and her sisters can be heard in music produced from the 80s to present by girl groups and indie bands foreign and domestic.  We already listened to Warpaint.  Here's Scottish singer/musician Rose McDowall with American experimental artist Boyd Rice collaborating under the name Spell and performing a cover of Priscilla's original composition.

"Stone is Very, Very Cold" - Spell (from the 1993 
album Seasons in the Sun

Keep up to date on exciting new bands and cutting edge sounds by following the blogs of my dear friends Kelly-marie at A Harem of Peacocks, Amber at Amber Blue Bird and Emma at Ol' Green Eyes.

 Thank you, Dell Rat Ron, 

 for playing Six Degrees 

 and helping me to tell 

 the fascinating story of 

 The Paris Sisters! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. Oh, Shady, I have goose bumps that may just stay all day! That is exactly how to achieve the scariest effects, by juxtaposing innocence with darkness. I have noticed that commercials for some of the most violent and disturbing video games feature music that is quite innocent and almost childlike sounding.

    Such a tragedy about the youngest Paris Sister- they were such a talented group.

    You have given me a wonderful education this morning- thank you, friend!

  2. Good mornning Ron & Shady. I have always loved soft, well done vocals like Cherish & Johnnie Angel but most of the tunes on this episode left me wanting more but then that is just me and my style. I applaud you for the awesome production of this post with the wonderful clips that I really enjoyed. I am excited to announce that Rocky Mount, NC has a new radio station WLQC that plays oldies and that is where my radio stays now. People probably wonder what's with that old guy riding along singing & if they only knew what hearing those songs means to someone from that era. Great job as always and thanks for educating us about what made that special time we miss so much. Have an awesome week.

  3. Shelly - At this very moment I have "What Am I To Do" stuck in my head and playing over and over again and I also have goose bumps. The powerful combination of sounds and images can burn an indelible impression into your memory. I haven't seen those spots for violent video games but it doesn't surprise me one bit that they employ this technique. Tis the season for goose bumps (Halloween) and there's much more to come in the remaining posts this month. Thank you for coming by so early to have a look and a listen, dear friend Shelly!

    Odie - I'm happy to know that the oldies format is still alive and well and now playing on a radio station near you. I hope they play all your favorites, good buddy. "Cherish" and "Johnny Angel" are both excellent and I'm glad you mentioned them because they are examples of recordings that don't carry the same type of "baggage" (implied darkness) that certain others do, such as the ones I've been featuring in this series. In other words, if I was making a movie, I wouldn't use your two picks to evoke horror. I greatly appreciate your visit and your terrific comments, Odie, and I ask that you please give old Rocky a pat and a biscuit for me!

  4. Hi dear friend Tom. hope you're up and at 'em, all ready for the start of another week! I very much regret to say that I hadn't heard of any of the artists featured today, so either I wasn't paying attention at the time, or they didn't make it on this side of the Atlantic! Nevertheless, that doesn't mean that I couldn't enjoy the music selected for us today. It's always good to have your music playing along as I read through my blog posts! By the wonders of the internet, I always listen to an American radio station on my iPhone as I go to sleep, and they play all the hits of the 50's and 60's.

  5. Thisisme - I'm up and at 'em, dear friend, and I'm happy to see your smiling face. I can't imagine why the recordings of The Paris Sisters didn't make it across the pond in the 60s when those of other American girl groups did. I've been getting into the music of the 50s much more lately than in recent years and I've got plenty of it coming up here on the blog. Thank you very much for coming by to see me, dear friend, and have a wonderful week preparing for your special house guests!

  6. whew where do I start?! First all I need to see Circus of Horrors like immediately. That film looks great and the tune is spellbinding. Of course you know I love me some Warpaint but I had never heard of Spell before and now cant get their song "Stone is Very, Very Cold" out of my head. I loved everything about this post and thank for many times over for the shout out :) You're the best!

  7. Amber Blue Bird - My pleasure, dear friend! The world needs to know what a groovy young woman you are and how much fun it is to visit your blog. Circus of Horrors is one of my all time favorite movies of any genre. In between grisly murders you get to enjoy all the music, color and spectacle of a real circus. The film has been released on a nicely remastered DVD and I highly recommend it. Thanks so much for taking time out from your zombie apocalypse preps to peek at my post. You're the bestest!

  8. Spine tingles and cold chills! Fantastic, Shady and Ron! The "Mr. Blue" scene from "Vacation" has always been humorous to me. Thomas Wayne's "Tragedy" version was the better one for me. Holding my breath while watching the dangling girl on the rope from "Circus of Horrors, I'm going to have to see this movie. One could sure experience some fear hearing "What Am I to Do" and imagining a crazed killer lurking near by. Thanks for the introduction to the newer artists, I could hear the influence and they were great. "Stone is Very, Very Cold" was special. Loved the Lynch YouTubes, does that guy ever have a way to present music with emotion! (Llorando from Mulholland Dr is a favorite, too) Great selection, Shady!

    I wonder how many times I must have checked out Kenneth Anger's book, "Hollywood Babylon", many years ago. Real life is stranger than fiction! Those sure were SOME red velvet seats in the Kustom Kar Kommandos YouTube. [Chills have now turned to laughter ;~D ]

    Sorry for getting so long winded on here and to think, this is the Reader's Digest version. Such a wonderful blog post, Shady and Ron!

  9. Cindy - Long winded means two things to me. It means that you actually took time to read and listen to this entire (long winded) post of mine. It also means that you know your stuff. You are an extremely knowledgeable friend who senses how much I love intelligent feedback. You always deliver and I do appreciate it very much! Circus of Horrors is great fun. My parents took me to see it at age 10, probably not realizing that the content was rather adult for a kid my age. You didn't hear me complaining! (LOL) I've been a big fan of the movie ever since. That Kustom Kar Kommandos short is really bizarre and every bit as unsettling as anything David Lynch could dream up. Mulholland Dr is way up there on my list of favorite movies and Naomi Watts is my favorite actress. Her scene with Chad Everett was one of the hottest in the history of cinema. Thank you very much, dear friend Cindy, for your very special comments. Have a terrific week!

  10. An amazing post, Shady! It made me think of the movie "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte", which scared the crap out of me but had that sweet-sounding song.

    Again i loved the Paris Sisters. They were truly wonderful. I enjoyed hearing two versions of "Tragedy". The were quite different and I don't think I preferred one over the other.

    Warpaint was interesting, but I liked Julee Cruise better. She sang very interesting songs and as you say in the same style as Prisilla Paris. I think my favorite of hers was "Rocking Back Inside My Heart". Also interesting to hear the two renditions of "Stone is very, very Cold". I liked Spell's version a bit better.

    I did watch Twin Peaks when it came out, but my memory is such that I don't remember much about it. I just remembered being fascinated. :) Have a lovely week in warm, lovely Florida!

  11. Belle - Thank you for these beautifully expressed comments! That's right! I forgot all about Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, a movie I saw when it first came out in '64 and a few times thereafter . It certainly does use that gentle lullaby by Patti Page as the backdrop to extreme violence. Bette Davis was unforgettable in that performance. I'm so pleased that you remember Twin Peaks, that you enjoyed Julee Cruise, and agree that there are similarities in style to the Paris Sisters. Thank you for calling this an amazing post, Belle. Yours are amazing comments and you are an amazing friend! God bless!

  12. As usual Tom, I started out reading the blog with a smile thinking of how angst ridden teen songs always seem to be. Quickly advancing to the creepiness level when you started juxtaposing them with the horror films. Eeek!
    And to think I have some of those on my ipod just waiting to be heard some dark dreary night...or maybe when an old Twin Peaks is offered in some campy marathon!

    Are we through being frightened to turn on the turntable or is another scary sweet nothing about to appear?

  13. Sush - I'm still leading up to Halloween so I'm AFRAID there are many more scares in the pipeline. I like the way you described the change that came over you as you read the post. When we were children we learned to trust a sweet lullaby and or a love song as something safe and nurturing. Dr. Miles J. Bennell followed a gentle melody that he heard drifting out across the countryside that night, believing that he had found an oasis of humanity to escape the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. To his horror, he discovered that the music was playing on the radio of a truck being loaded with alien seed pods designed to replicate and replace people while they slept. That jolting realization, that moment when his sense of safety, security and hope was suddenly ripped away was quite powerful, and the soft, sweet music that lured him was the key to setting him up for the fall. Thank you very much for experiencing the Paris Sisters series with me, dear Sush, and have a terrific Tuesday!

  14. Once again, I'm awed by the amount of knowledge you reveal and also, by your creative expression, which I find more rivetting than the music itself. I have a very lame question. Is Ron "real" or is he made-up? I'm not sure if you've created him to enhance the way you present your posts or whether he really does contribute in his own right.

    The tragic ending so many artists have succumbed to is a sad, cruel twist of fate. Adulated while alive and well, so many of them are unable to handle their fame and fortune in a sustained way, or so it seems to me. A certain recklessness seems to haunt them, leading to their premature and tragic demises. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

  15. Desiree - Thank you very much for the compliment about my creative expression. Your kindness means a great deal to me. I know that I have become a better writer as a result of authoring this blog and it makes me very happy to know that you enjoy reading my words as much as I do yours.

    I assure you that Dell Rat Ron is real. Ron and I were friends in high school and in the same graduating class. We also went to the Shady Dell during the same period of time. We lost touch with each other for decades and reconnected a couple of years ago just in time for Ron to share his music and memories with me and with you here on SDM&M.

    There's no need for me to correct you for making an observation with which everyone can agree. Fame and fortune corrupt the souls of many people and often lead, directly or indirectly, to their early demise.

    Desiree, thank you so much for coming over. Your friendship and support are deeply appreciated. I hope you're having a pleasant spring day in South Africa and that you have a good night as well, dear friend!

  16. Hhuge fan of David Lynch films...he chose great music & sometimes haunting melody!
    ps: Thanks for the comment reminder, Shady! Should rent Alfred Hitchcock's films! Norman Bates was so spooky!

    great week dear!

  17. Lenore Nevermore - Psycho #1 was a great movie and it should have ended right there without the inevitable sequels. Same with Jaws and many other series. You don't find many character actors today who can depict inner turmoil as well as did Anthony Perkins. I also highly recommend his baseball biopic Fear Strikes Out: The Jim Piersall Story (1957) in which Karl Malden, another superb character actor, played the domineering dad. Thank you very much for dropping by, dear friend Lenore, and have a wonderful Wednesday!

  18. Shady,
    you're truly a walking encyclopedia on pop culture! I'm so impressed!
    I agree Jaws sequels were so horrible!! ok, now the scary theme song is playing in my head~ LOL!


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