Sleepwalking the Blues

Berna-Dean – I Walk In My Sleep [Imperial]

A tellingly melancholic piano chord opens this comely if forlorn jazz narrative that builds from the lazy purl of after-hours tinkering to belting remorse in the last of its three sumptuous minutes. The little known Berna-Dean rides this wave with a sonorous voice as versatile as it is heartfelt, breaking dramatically in what mercenary designer and astute ‘trend tweeter’ @fnutgreen recently heralded the ‘most outstanding “whoa” in the history of popular music’.

The song our tweeting friend goes on to dub – with comparable precision – ‘a classic of the song length crescendo’ was penned by prominent New Orleans bandleader Dave Bartholomew and initially recorded in 1950 as a disappointing, drowsy croon by Theard Johnson who promptly suffered a nervous breakdown and retired from the game. In 1961 Berna-Dean had greater success in turning the song out, if not forging a subsequent career. A handful of releases followed but nothing to match the bleak ambrosia of this ode to the lovelorn somnambulist.

‘I Walk In My Sleep’ was originally released as a 45 [Imperial Records] and can now features on Various Artist compilation Theme Time Radio Hour – With Your Host Bob Dylan [Ace Records].

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