Debbie Reynolds – Tammy

Written for the romantic comedy Tammy and the Bachelor and sung by its heroine, Tammy captures that moment of sweet melancholy when a relationship is still out of reach, but seems entirely possibly based on the strength of emotion alone.

There are many songs with a woman’s name in the title, but this is the only one I know in which she is singing about herself in third person. Or is she? Her emotion is so overwhelming that it seems like the whole world is singing it. The cottonwoods, the hootie owl, the whippoorwill, the breeze, everything in existence knows that Tammy’s in love… except the man himself. Yet it is the projection of her own dreams, the passion that makes her heart beat so loudly that surely he must hear. Dare she even dream that he might reciprocate her feelings?

Debbie Reynolds who acted the lead role sings the tune sweetly, balancing well the joy of infatuation and the sadness of uncertainty, while the moody violin emphasizes the latter. This song actually has a connection to Sixteen Reasons by Connie Stevens: both singers were actresses who married Eddie Fisher, himself known for romantic songs, though I haven’t heard a song of his that would be as touching as these two. Reynolds and Fisher also had a child who became famous, Carrie Fisher.

Perhaps it is so touching because the song is so tender while love is so powerful that it encompasses everything. In loving him, Tammy is a part of everything. And seen from another perspective, when you are loved by just one person, the whole world seems a bit kinder, and in some ways it is. Perception is changed by loving someone as well as being loved, and never does it feel more complete than when there’s a degree of mutuality, even if just for a moment. Having that experience transforms a person forever. Even if years of solitude would follow, it offers us a glimpse of what is possible, what is the meaning of beauty, what can appear as a purpose emerging from the doubt and ignorance. The night is warm, anything is possible, and this relationship must become real. It is the dream that if we love someone strongly enough, surely we will be loved back. The real world teaches that it isn’t so, but for a moment in romance it seems possible: love alone is enough.

There has fallen a splendid tear
From the passion-flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear;
She is coming, my life, my fate;
The red rose cries, “She is near, she is near;”
And the white rose weeps, “She is late;”
The larkspur listens, “I hear, I hear;”
And the lily whispers, “I wait.”

She is coming, my own, my sweet;
Were it ever so airy a tread,
My heart would hear her and beat,
Were it earth in an earthy bed;
My dust would hear her and beat,
Had I lain for a century dead,
Would start and tremble under her feet,
And blossom in purple and red.

From Maud by Alfred, Lord Tennyson