Audrey Landers’ new album “Dallas Feels Like Home” includes songs she wrote and performed during her run as Afton Cooper on the original “Dallas,” as well as a special tune from her guest shot on “Guilt and Innocence,” the TNT revival’s most recent episode. Here are my five favorite selections.
5. “It Takes 2 to Fly.” Five years after leaving Dallas, Afton returns to town in the 12th-season episode “And Away We Go.” She’s become a mother to little Pamela Rebecca and found success as a singer, but there’s someone missing from her life: Cliff, whom Afton still loves, even if she doesn’t want to admit it. No matter. When we see her perform this synthesizer-backed number, the lyrics tell us everything we need to know about what’s going on inside Afton’s heart. A sample: “I’ve got to believe / All alone I never got too far / But together we can touch a star / I can’t deny / It takes two to fly.”
4. “Let Me Down Gently.” Oh my, what a sad song! When Afton arrives in Dallas as an ambitious-but-naïve young woman, J.R. instantly pounces and sweeps her off her feet. Their fling goes nowhere, leaving Afton to pour out her heart with this beautiful piano ballad, which she performs in the fourth-season episode “The Gathering Storm.” Sample lyrics: “I know I’m not your first love / Though you are surely mine / Suddenly I know what it means / When they say that love is blind / Because when we kiss I close my eyes / Tight so I won’t see / The love that isn’t there / When you’re looking back at me.” You’re breaking our hearts, Afton!
3. “Through the Eyes of Winter.” In the 12th-season episode “Mission to Moscow,” Cliff (Ken Kercheval) begs Afton to give him another chance. “If we lose each other this time, we may never find each other again. I don’t use the word ‘love’ lightly, but I love you,” he says. This song, which Afton performs in the episode’s first act, suggests she’s beginning to question her decision to leave Cliff all those years ago. The chorus: “Through the eyes of winter / I see I was wrong / Through the eyes of winter / I got to be strong / I may have been blind / But I never meant to be / Now I see through the eyes of winter.”
2. “Mockingbird.” In “Guilt and Innocence,” when a grownup and very pregnant Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) is injured in an explosion that Cliff secretly engineered, Afton rushes to the young woman’s side and serenades her and John Ross (Josh Henderson) with a nostalgic rendition of the “Mockingbird” lullaby. It’s a charming moment – and Afton’s most intimate, poignant performance. The version Landers recorded for “Dallas Feels Like Home” fits well with the new show’s musical style, right down to the emphasis on strings, a signature of “Dallas” composer Rob Cairns.
1. “Steal Me Away.” Afton’s signature song. She performs it in the fourth-season episodes “Making of a President” and “The Quest,” soon after her affair with J.R. begins. The lyrics nicely capture Afton’s starry-eyed sense of extra-marital infatuation: “Take the side road, baby / Let the moonlight guide your way / Don’t hesitate / Sneak round the back door, baby / I’ll be waiting there for you / You know what to do.” The version of “Steal Me Away” on Landers’ album is gorgeous; best of all, “Dallas” fans will finally get to hear the song’s second verse. Another bonus: The digital booklet that comes with the album includes a reproduction of the sheet music Landers used to compose the song.
What are your favorite performances from Afton Cooper? Share your choices in the comments section below and read more Dal-Lists.