Oct 03

DORIS DAY – “Que Sera, Sera”

Popular19 comments • 2,887 views

#49, 10th August 1956

“Que Sera, Sera” is a slippery little song – its fresh optimism seems to conceal something a shade darker (the sentiment could as easily front a glum shrug as a carefree grin), but in the lyric only good things do seem to happen, so any fatalism you find is of the chirpy variety. It’ll all work out in the long run! In the real world such homilies might be dangerous, or at least an excuse to sit on one’s arse all day (as if I needed one). But pop music, thankfully, is not the real world.

Doris Day treats “Que Sera, Sera” as quite the happiest song ever written – a “Favourite Things” of predestiny and human impotence. She carries the arrangement along with her – the music-box tinkling behind the “Now I have children of my own'” verse just an extra tier in a wedding-cake production. And of course the chorus is indelible. The result is that rare thing, a pop song trying to sound less deep than it is.



  1. 1
    Lena on 31 Oct 2006 #

    And for a new generation (or two) it’s indelibly associated with the meteorite-heading-for-Springfield espisode of The Simpsons. I guess if you’re going to be fatalistic, you may as well be happy about it…

  2. 2
    Marcello Carlin on 31 Oct 2006 #

    It originally appeared in Hitchcock’s remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much, and the way she sings it in the film, alone and in tears, to the daughter she knows is being held hostage in the next room, is beyond heartbreaking…

  3. 3
    Marcello Carlin on 31 Oct 2006 #

    (She sings it as a sort of coded message)

  4. 4
    CarsmileSteve on 31 Oct 2006 #

    i’m sure on the haloscan comments we must have touched on:

    a. the song’s ubiquity on the terraces

    b. “we hope it’s chips, it’s chips” dalepack beefsteak advert of the early/mid 80s

    which of these caused the other i’m unsure…

  5. 5

    “fried onion rings”!

  6. 6
    James Walker on 19 Mar 2007 #

    In response to marcello’s comment last Hallowe’en. It was her son she was singing to in the movie. She and Jimmy Stewart only had the boy, no daughter at all actually.

  7. 7
    rosie on 26 May 2008 #

    And can I get hold of a DVD of The Man Who Knew Too Much? Can I fuck! I was disappopinted but not altogether surprised not to get hold of Hall Bartlett’s Unchained – the film’s signature song has a completely independent existence and it’s not by all accounts (although I’ll be the judge when I get the chance) a particularly good film. But TMWKTM is Hitchcock, for fuck’s sake, and if it’s no Rear Window or North by North West it’s still pretty good stuff.

  8. 8
    rosie on 30 Sep 2010 #

    Did I really make the last comment? Well, I did get hold of a DVD of TMWKTM mk II and Marcello was right on the money – Doris sings it more than once in the film, but the scene he mentions is a cracker even by Hitchcockian standards.

  9. 9
    Eli on 29 Jan 2011 #

    I really must see the film. I’m quite a Doris fan, and I do like Hitchcock…

    A lovely song, well executed by Dodo. What more can you ask for?

    It was a ‘present’ from her A&R man Mitch Miller to her. One of those rare 50s #1s that remains well-known today. I knew it long before I knew anything about Doris.

  10. 10
    the pinefox on 31 Jan 2011 #

    Yes, fried onion rings.

    Do vegetarians eat those? They never seem to eat things like that.

  11. 11
    wichita lineman on 4 Feb 2011 #

    I know a few vegetarians who only eat things like that. Not many vegetables, at any rate.

    I like the mix of serenity and slight uncertainty in the song, much like Memories Are Made Of This. A new kind of post-war calm – “I think we’ve made it, boys” – just as R&R blows this pop world apart.

  12. 12
    Erithian on 4 Feb 2011 #

    Wichita – I think Marcello put a similar point beautifully in his first post on this thread:

  13. 13
    wichita lineman on 4 Feb 2011 #

    Yes, you’re right. I was attempting to suggest that Que Sera Sera is a tentative step forward, though, from O Mein Papa and Moulin Rouge – less of a swaddling lullaby for the immediate post-war years, more forward looking. This and Memories Are Made of This at least suggested people weren’t about to have their lives abruptly terminated by a doodlebug or an atomic bomb. And if they were, well, the future’s not ours to see.

  14. 14
    punctum on 4 Feb 2011 #

    I have quite a bit more to say about this song in the next TPL entry, which will be written as soon as everything is sorted out (i.e. unpacked) in our new home (into which we moved last weekend hurrah!).*

    *hence lack of recent blog activity since we have been busy house-hunting and then actual house-moving.**

    **hence also delay in BiA EoY list but it is coming!

  15. 15
    Erithian on 4 Feb 2011 #

    Good luck to you both in your new home, then!

  16. 16
    punctum on 26 Feb 2011 #

    As good a place as any to announce that TPL is indeed back, and is in part knocked sideways in ways it didn’t expect by this long-time chart-topper: http://nobilliards.blogspot.com/2011/02/various-artists-20-all-time-greats-of.html

  17. 17
    thefatgit on 28 Feb 2011 #

    @16 I enjoyed that piece on TPL immensely. Looking forward to your next entry, Marcello.

  18. 18
    crag on 13 Apr 2011 #

    DESERT ISLAND DISC WATCH (Up to 11/04/11)

    Jack Fingleton, Athlete, Cricketer, Writer, Broadcaster (1961).

  19. 19
    Gareth Parker on 9 Jun 2021 #

    (#16) No one cares. 6/10 for Doris.

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