Partner Clement Brace
1617 Tower Grove Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Dion McGregor (January 21, 1922 – December 29, 1994) was an American songwriter known for talking in his sleep. An LP of his dream diatribes – The Dream World Of Dion McGregor (He Talks In His Sleep) – was released to minor acclaim by Decca Records in 1964. A book of the same name, containing the transcripts of a wider selection of McGregor's dreams, and with illustrations by Edward Gorey, was also published in 1964.
McGregor would essentially narrate his dreams at conversational volume. As a narrator of his (often terrifying) dreams, Dion adopted various personas but frequently established a fey, argumentative, insolent approach to the subject at hand – be it a hot air balloon trip to the moon with a group of multi-ethnic children, a frantic journey around New York, or a tattooing job on a woman's tongue.
As a songwriter, McGregor's biggest success came when his song "Where Is The Wonder" (cowritten with roommate Michael Barr) was recorded by Barbra Streisand on her hit album My Name Is Barbra (1965). He was unable to find much success afterwards, however, and by the 1980s had given up on songwriting. Critic Joslyn Layne writes that "Despite his lack of success as a song lyricist, McGregor's narration of his vivid dreamlife provided a more unique artistic contribution than any usually recorded."
McGregor died in 1994, but researcher Phil Milstein gathered recordings of McGregor's dream-speech considered too risque to be released in the 1960s and assembled them for the 1999 album, Dion McGregor Dreams Again, released on Tzadik Records. A third album, The Further Somniloquies of Dion McGregor: More Outrageous Recordings of the World's Most Renowned Sleeptalker was assembled by Toronto poet Steve Venright and released in August 2004 on the Torpor Vigil Industries label. A previously unreleased recording, "Naughty Pussy", was released in April 2011 as part of Awkwardcore Compilation #1 on the Awkwardcore Records label. A fourth album was released in July 2014, again assembled by Venright for Torpor Vigil, called Dreaming Like Mad with Dion McGregor: Yet More Outrageous Recordings of the World's Most Renowned Sleeptalker.
He was born in New York City.
Another of his roommates in the 1960s was film maker and fellow Edward Gorey enthusiast Peter de Rome. McGregor appears in de Rome's film "Mumbo Jumbo" (1971).At a film society gathering in 1980, McGregor met a man a few years older than himself named Clement Brace. The two struck up a close relationship, and remained inseparable until McGregor's death. Like McGregor, Brace was from back East (a boy from Syracuse, in fact), and had had a stab at an acting career in his youth. Unlike McGregor, Brace was still in the good graces of his wealthy family, and the two lived very well. Brace had formerly been the partner of John Dall, an intense and talented actor who co-starred in Alfred Hitchcock's Rope in 1948 and in the 1949 noir classic Gun Crazy, but who had lapsed into alcoholism and died in 1971 at age 52. McGregor's union with Brace put an end to his dream-talking, "almost as if it were a sign that I could finally get on with my so-called normal life," he wrote. "I'd had it up to here with the whole goddamn experience when it finally stopped." Barr and McGregor remained on friendly terms for a while longer, but McGregor's relationship with Brace gradually distanced the former collaborators from each other until they finally fell out, with Brace ultimately blocking Barr from access to McGregor. As Barr eloquently put it, "He and Clement were so Garbo and I was so Alice Faye."
McGregor and Brace lived a quiet and graceful life in Beverly Hills, and began a long-term project to compile their own multi-volume film reference work. McGregor spent hours combing the archives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, compiling research materials. Friends believe, however, that this was a diversionary tactic designed mostly to keep himself busy, rather than a serious attempt at getting a book completed.
The couple became increasingly reclusive, and McGregor began to lose some of his spark. Although they lived "way up in the canyon hills above the Beverly Hills Hotel," occasional forages down into the city induced little more than noise-and-traffic anxieties, and McGregor grew fearful even of the downhill drive itself. Sensing an imminent heart attack and questing for a less stressful life, in the late '80s they moved to southwestern Oregon, near Ashland, where they'd enjoyed annual outings to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In 1990, in spite of the move, McGregor suffered what he called a "very serious heart failure," from which he never fully recovered. A year later, Brace fell during a morning walk and broke his neck, confining him permanently to a wheelchair.
On December 29, 1994, in a Medford, Oregon hospital, Dion McGregor fell into a sleep less fitful and a whole lot quieter than the ones that led up to one of the strangest episodes in entertainment history. On November 3, 1996, he was joined again by his partner Clement Brace.
In 2017 Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor made an experimental documentary film about McGregor's dreams called Somniloquies. It was accepted by several renowned film festivals including Berlinale, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and IndieLisboa International Independent Film Festival.
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