rolling stone magazine
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Five pick.
Pulling myself out of 1978, I am moving into the 1980s. ~Vic
John Mellencamp‘s Scarecrow album was released on August 5, 1985, 25 days prior to my 19th birthday and six weeks before I started my sophomore year of college. God, what an album. This was Mellencamp’s version of Born In The USA (I own both albums). Roots rock/Heartland rock was the music in the background of my graduation from high school and subsequent foray into college. Minutes To Memories was not an official release from the album but, it managed to make it to #14 on the Top Rock Tracks for one week as a non-single album track. It spoke volumes to me…
“You are young and you are the future
So, suck it up, tough it out
Be the best you can.”
Written by Mellencamp and his childhoon friend George M. Green, it is the #4 track on the album and Mimi Mapes sang backing vocals. Scarecrow made it to #2 on the Billboard 200 chart the week of November 16, 1985 (coming underneath Born In The USA, twice) and stayed for a couple of weeks, stuck behind the Miami Vice Soundtrack.
“I wrote a song called [You’ve Got To] Stand For Something,” [Mellencamp] explains, “but, I never did say what you should stand for…except your own truth. That song was supposed to be funny, too and, I hope people got that. But, I think that’s the key to the whole LP…suggesting that each person come to grips with their own individual truth […] and try to like themselves a little bit more. Find out what you as a person are […] and don’t let the world drag you down. People should have respect for and believe in themselves.”
A deeply felt sense of responsibility and an equally motivating need to atone for past missteps seem to define Scarecrow. On the midtempo Minutes to Memories, Mellencamp tells the story of a young boy riding home to Indiana after a trip to the South. In the next seat on the bus is a seventy-seven-year-old retired steelworker lecturing the child on how to live, backing his advice with experience. “My family and friends are the best things I’ve known,” he instructs, and the child, a budding rebel, chuckles to himself at how out of touch the old dog is.
Easing into the final verse, Mellencamp hushes his band. In a voice just above a whisper, he suddenly shifts the tale from third to first person. He’s the kid on the Greyhound and, his inability to comprehend, let alone act on, the wisdom he was given then, still haunts him… “Now that I’m older I can see he was right.” [T]hen Mellencamp reveals that he’s telling this story to his own son. He knows he’s being silently scoffed at as surely as his travel companion was two decades earlier. Still, he accepts it and the band rocks out.
There is no official video of this song but, the below is one guy’s idea.
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Two pick.
I grew up around lots of music. My dad had his tastes, my mom had hers and I got some exposure to my grandparents music, too. There was plenty of Elvis, Buddy Holly, Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, Gene Pitney, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, The Ventures, The Beach Boys, instrumental music (think Hugo Montenegro or Paul Mauriat), funny stuff like Ben Colder/Sheb Wooley, Ray Stevens or David Seville (my dad’s stuff), The Four Seasons, Motown, soul music, beach music (my mom’s stuff), big band music (my paternal grandparents) and, bluegrass, country and Latin/jazz (maternal grandparents). One song, in particular, that reminds me of my dad the most is Cathy’s Clown. When I was a kid, my dad liked to just get in the car, drive around and listen to the radio. It was, literally, No Particular Place To Go. When I became an adult, we’d still get in the car and cruise. He and I would sing Cathy’s Clown, together, with me taking Phil’s harmony. I still own my dad’s original 45. ~Vic
Written by Don, it was recorded in March and released in April 1960. It was recorded live, in a single take, with both brothers sharing a microphone. Floyd Cramer was on piano, Floyd Chance on bass and Buddy Harman on drums. An odd song, it has a chorus and bridges but, no verses. It was their first single for Warner Bros. It spent five weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, one week on the Billboard’s R&B chart and seven weeks at #1 on UK’s Singles chart. It was their biggest selling single and their last #1 after Wake Up Little Susie and All I Have to Do Is Dream.
The song is ranked at #150 Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and it was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013. Covers have been done by Reba McEntire and Neil Sedaka (1983) with McEntire’s version reaching #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and Canada’s RPM Country Tracks chart in 1989. There is even a Jan and Dean version on Filet Of Soul Redux: The Rejected Master Recordings (2017).
“We owe those guys everything. They started it all.” ~Bob Dylan
Additional Reading & References:
The Everly Brothers: That Sibling Sound (BBC News/2014)
Cathy’s Clown ~ The Everly Brothers (Library of Congress/PDF)
Recording Cathy’s Clown (Steve Hoffman Music Forum)
Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show 1960
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round One pick. I will be posting these per decade.
Having grown up on the East Coast/Mid-Atlantic, one thing my state is known for is shagging (for the Brits, no, that is not what it means). While my grandparents did the Jitterbug as youths, my parents shagged (a descendant of the Jitterbug), as did my classmates and I. This song, in particular, was my favorite to shag to, though I enjoyed many beach music songs. ~Vic
Released either in May (per Rolling Stone Magazine) or April 24, 1959 (per Wikipedia), it was written by Benjamin Nelson (Ben E. King), Lover Patterson and George Treadwell. Produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the song hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B chart (July) and, #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 (August).
This is the second version of The Drifters under Treadwell’s management, crafted from the Five Crowns: Ben E. King, Charlie Thomas, Doc Green and Elsbeary Hobbs with James “Poppa” Clark being rejected for alcohol issues. With this line-up, There Goes My Baby was their first single and King’s debut as lead singer. It was unusual for its time, being the first commercial R&B/Soul recording with strings, arranged by Stan Applebaum, and a Brazilian Baiãon groove. Phil Spector studied the production style under Leiber & Stoller.
Ben E. King and The Drifters (The Vocal Group Hall of Fame Foundation/Inducted 2000)
John Gilliland’s Pop Chronicles (The Drifters & Ritchie Valens/Track 2/University of North Texas Digital Library)
There Goes My Baby (The Art of Rock Music Listening Guide/University of Albany/PDF)
Things You Didn’t Know About The Drifters (Pop, Rock & Doo Wopp/Joe Mirrione/April 10, 2020)
Hanspostcard has a movie draft challenge. This is my Round Seven pick.
Category: Crime/Film Noir
Film: Cop Land
Written and directed by James Mangold, it was executive produced by the Weinstein brothers (though their names have been removed from the Wikipedia article). Released August 6, 1997 in New York (premiere) and nationwide on August 15, it was an incredible ensemble cast of Sly Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Robert Patrick, Peter Berg, Janeane Garafalo, Edie Falco, Michael Rapoport, Annabella Sciorra, John Spencer, Cathy Moriarty, Noah Emmerich, Frank Vincent, Malik Yoba, Arthur Nascarella and, cameos of Deborah Harry & Geraldo Rivera.
Sylvester Stallone put on 40 pounds to play Nowheresville, N.J., sheriff Freddy Heflin in Cop Land […]. His town is run by Ray Donlan (Keitel) and the other New York cops who have settled there with their families. He wears blinders when it comes to their lawbreaking and mob dealings. Moe Tilden (De Niro), the internal-affairs officer out to get the goods on Cop Land, correctly pegs Freddy as “a man looking for something to do.” Keitel’s [Donlan] exudes dangerous energy. He cares for his own as long as they don’t cross him […]. Robert Patrick brings sly menace to Rucker […]. Ray Liotta […], as Gary Figgis, [is] a tainted cop who sides with Freddy.
Mangold […] has a rare talent for finding the human drama in ordinary lives.
Writer-director James Mangold […] wrangles an impressive cast […] and spins a compelling tale of cancerous corruption among a secretive group of New York’s finest who have settled in the fictional New Jersey burg of Garrison. [Stallone] indeed looks chunky and plays the sleepy, docile Sheriff […] with sluggishness to spare in a largely commendable performance as a half-deaf small-town dreamer. [He] is not given much in the way of memorable dialogue but, he makes the character work […]. [Having] yet to replace his LP of The River with a CD, [he] carries a torch for the local Jersey girl (Sciorra) he saved from drowning…the reason for his loss of hearing in one ear…[he] once longed to be a big-city cop but, had to settle for policing them.
Freddy gradually realizes that he doesn’t like how the town has turned out.
The Hollywood Reporter
August 11, 1997
I saw this at the theater when it came out and caught it, again, a few nights ago. I was born and raised in law enforcement and, worked in it, too (non-sworn). I’ve known good cops and I’ve known some really bad ones. I love a well written cop movie and this was an unusual one in that Stallone wasn’t playing a bad ass like Rambo, Cobra, Tango, John Spartan (though I do love that movie) or Ray Quick. This character was different…subdued. His scenes with Annabella Sciorra have Springsteen playing in the background which adds depth and texture to the mood. This is clearly a period piece as all the vehicles, hair cuts and clothing styles are, effectively, early 80s. The River came out in 1980 and music from the Director’s Cut, like Blue Oyster Cult‘s Burnin’ For You came out in 1981. This also manages to cover the Crime category via IMDb and the Film Noir category, simultaneously, via Historical Dictionary of Film Noir (2010). ~Vic
♦ There is a disclaimer at the end of the credits which states “This film is a work of fiction. It is currently illegal for New York City Police officers to live outside the state of New York.”
♦ Arthur J. Nascarella was a real-life NYPD officer.
♦ Debbie Harry acted in the movie but, was edited out in the final cut. She explained on a live television special that although she was cut, she still got paid.
♦ In the scene in which Ray Liotta confronts Robert Patrick in the bar, the dart that Liotta shoves up Patrick’s left nostril was made out of rubber.
♦ Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise and John Travolta were considered for Sheriff Freddy Heflin.
The Making of an Urban Western
Hanspostcard has a movie draft challenge. This is my Round Four pick.
Film: The Breakfast Club
“So, Ahab, can I have all my doobage?”
“Chicks cannot hold dey smoke, dat’s what it is.”
“Saturday, March 24, 1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois, 60062 (fictional town). […] You see us as you want to see us… […] You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. […] That’s the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed.”
This is my graduating class…the class of 1984 (despite the age of some of the actors). Released February 15, 1985, I was in my freshman year of college and it was a bittersweet revisit. I knew these characters…every single one of them. My high school even had a library that resembled that set. This movie was made with only a one million budget but, brought in $51 million and, in 2016, was selected for preservation with the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. There is no CGI or special effects. There are no sweeping views of beautiful locations. There are no “shoot-em-up-bang-bang” sequences. There is some action with the cast running through the hallways, dancing while high and Judd Nelson (John Bender/The Criminal) falling through the ceiling tiles. This is, primarily, a study of human nature, parental influence, peer influence, subtle & overt abuse and the struggle to understand. It’s heartbreaking, it’s hilarious and it is so Generation X. ~Vic
Written, produced and directed by John Hughes, it also stars Emilio Estevez (Andrew Clark/The Athlete), Molly Ringwald (Claire Standish/The Princess), Ally Sheedy (Allison Reynolds/The Basket Case), Paul Gleason (Asst. Principal Richard Vernon) and John Kapelos (Carl Reed/The Janitor).
♦ The scene in which all characters sit in a circle on the floor in the library and tell stories about why they were in detention was not scripted. Writer and director John Hughes told them all to ad-lib.
♦ There is a deleted scene of Claire and Allison in the bathroom that didn’t show up until the Blu-Ray edition was released.
♦ Sixteen year old Hall hit a growth spurt during shooting and outgrew 24 year old Nelson, prompting Nelson to joke about writing letters to geneticists.
♦ Bender’s joke about the blonde, the poodle and the six foot salami has no punchline as it was never in the script.
♦ Nelson was nearly fired for method-acting harassment.
♦ Hall’s mother & sister play themselves in the movie.
♦ Keith Forsey wrote the lyrics to Don’t You (Forget About Me) and Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music was approached to sing it. Billy Idol was also approached and recorded his own version, later. An offer to Chrissie Hynde lead to her, then, husband Jim Kerr of Simple Minds.
♦ Nelson improvised the part at the closing of the film where Bender raises his fist in defiance. Everyone loved it and it has also become an iconic symbol of the 1980s as well as cinema history.
Twenty-five years ago, this week (November 19/25, 1994), the song Spin the Black Circle by Pearl Jam debuted on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart (Page 79/ called Album Rock Tracks in 1994), entering at #16 (also its peak). Released November 8, it was the first single from their third album Vitalogy. Produced by Brendan O’ Brien, it was written by Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard.
Mike McCready had difficulty with the leads and Jeff Ament didn’t like the punk sound at the time. Per Vedder, the lyrics reflect a love of vinyl records but, there could be interpretations of similarities with drug addiction.
The most [Vedder] will do is proselytize against the extinction of the LP, as he does in “Spin the Black Circle,” one of the few songs from Seattle in which a needle has nothing to do with heroin.
Vitalogy has a number of gripping songs that match the soaring anthems of Ten. The first three tracks are a promising start: “Last Exit,” “Not for You” and especially “Spin the Black Circle,” a revvedup thrash tribute to vinyl, rock harder than anything Pearl Jam have ever done.
From David Browne with Entertainment Weekly (December 9, 1994):
Pearl Jam still hasn’t developed an individual style to match that of its profoundly uptight singer, Eddie Vedder. Guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready continue to play sloppy, characterless riffs. [T]heir punk song, ”Spin the Black Circle,” is a little flabby, like dinosaur rockers trying to prove they’re into Green Day.
The song peaked at #18 November 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the first Pearl Jam single to enter this chart. It also peaked at #11 on the Billboard Alternative chart (called Modern Rock Tracks in 1994). It peaked in the top five in Australia, New Zealand and Norway.
I don’t know what this means. I don’t think it means anything.
Lyrics (From LyricFind)
See this needle
Oh see my hand
Drop, drop, dropping it down
oh so gently
here it comes
touch the flame
Turn me up
won’t turn you away
spin the black circle
spin the black, spin the black
spin the black circle
Pull it out
a paper sleeve
Oh my joy
only you deserve conceit
Oh I’m so big
and my whole world
I’d rather you
rather you, than her
spin the black circle
spin the black, spin the black
spin the black circle
Oh you’re so warm
oh, the ritual
as I lay down your crooked arm
spin the black circle
spin the black, spin the black
spin the black circle
Spin the black
Spin the black circle
Spin the black circle
Thirty-five years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart (and, simultaneously, on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and Canadian Singles chart) was Time After Time from the album She’s So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper. Co-written by Lauper and Rob Hyman (The Hooters), it was released on January 27, the second single from the album. The title came from the 1979 movie Time After Time:
“We started by putting together a list of song titles. I thumbed through a TV Guide magazine. One movie title seemed good—a sci-fi film called “Time After Time” from 1979. I never meant for it to be the song’s real title. It was just supposed to get me thinking.” (Quote from Lauper)
It was her first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
The video for “Time After Time” was directed by Edd Griles and, its storyline is about a young woman leaving her lover behind when she becomes homesick and worried about her mother. Lauper’s mother, brother and then-boyfriend, David Wolff, appear in the video and Lou Albano, who played her father in the “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” video, can be seen as a cook.
The video opens with Lauper watching the 1936 film The Garden of Allah and the final scene, where she gets on the train and waves goodbye to David, has Lauper crying for real.
Cover artists include Miles Davis, Eva Cassidy and Lil Mo. Lauper made an acoustic version with Sarah McLachlan and performed live with McLachlan at the 2005 AMA Awards. Other live performances have been with Patti LaBelle and Lil’ Kim.
Thirty-five years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R & B charts (plus Cash Box) was Let’s Hear It For The Boy by Deniece Williams from the soundtrack of the movie Footloose. This was Williams second number one hit on the Billboard 100.
From Songfacts [no citations]:
This was the second single from the Footloose soundtrack, following the “title track,” which was recorded by Kenny Loggins. In the film, the song was used in a scene where Kevin Bacon tries to teach Christopher Penn how to dance and Penn is having a hard time.
Once the song was written, Pitchford asked Deniece Williams and her producer George Duke to record the song. Kenny Loggins was onboard for the title track, which gave the project credibility and, Williams loved the song and the story idea for the film. She grew up in a small Indiana town with a religious environment similar to the one described in Footloose. When she saw the film, she thought the scene where they used her song was incredible. “If I had come to the film without the music in and they asked me what segment I wanted my song to be in, I would have chosen that segment.” said Williams.
Forty years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was Heart of Glass by Blondie. Written by Harry and Stein in 1974-75, its working title was Once I Had A Love. The inspiration for its writing came from The Hues Corporation‘s song Rock the Boat.
From The Guardian:
Heart of Glass was one of the first songs Blondie wrote but, it was years before we recorded it properly. We’d tried it as a ballad, as reggae but, it never quite worked. At that point, it had no title. We just called it “the disco song”. Back then, it was very unusual for a guitar band to be using computerised sound. People got nervous and angry about us bringing different influences into rock. Although we’d covered Lady Marmalade and I Feel Love at gigs, lots of people were mad at us for “going disco” with Heart of Glass. There was the Disco Sucks! movement, and there had even been a riot in Chicago, with people burning disco records. Clem Burke, our drummer, refused to play the song live at first. When it became a hit, he said: “I guess I’ll have to.” The lyrics weren’t about anyone. They were just a plaintive moan about lost love. At first, the song kept saying: “Once I had a love, it was a gas. Soon turned out, it was a pain in the ass.” We couldn’t keep saying that, so we came up with: “Soon turned out, had a heart of glass.” We kept one “pain in the ass” in – and the BBC bleeped it out for radio. ~Debbie Harry
As far as I was concerned, disco was part of R&B, which I’d always liked. The Ramones went on about us “going disco” but, it was tongue-in-cheek. They were our friends. In the video, there’s a shot of the legendary Studio 54, so everyone thought we shot the video there but, it was actually in a short-lived club called the Copa or something. I came up with the phrase “heart of glass” without knowing anything about Werner Herzog or his movie of the same name, which is a great, weird film. It’s nice people now use the song to identify the period in films and documentaries. I never had an inkling it would be such a big hit, or become the song we’d be most remembered for. It’s very gratifying. ~Chris Stein
In season one, DJ Johnny Fever not only plays Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” on his broadcast but, home audiences actually hear him announce the band’s, and the song’s, names. It was fantastic promotion for the up-and-coming Blondie, whose huge breakthrough album, Parallel Lines (with other seminal singles like Hanging on the Telephone and One Way or Another), came out the same month WKRP in Cincinnati debuted. The band reportedly gave the show a Gold record plaque celebrating the album’s major sales numbers as a “Thank You” card. It can be seen in the background as set design on several episodes in later seasons.
Unlike many DJs from that era, Fever played punk as well as rock and soul. The range of music on the show gave this fictional radio station a better playlist than most of the era’s real ones. […] although the show helped break Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” big, the exception, in Fever’s case, was disco. “I asked him to play one disco record and he threatened to throw himself in front of Donna Summer‘s tour bus,” Travis complains in “Baby, If You’ve Ever Wondered,” from season two.
As of April 20, 2011, Heart of Glass is #259 of Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Fifteen years ago, today, the #1 movie at the box office was The Cat In The Hat, starring Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin and, Sean Hayes with cameos from Clint Howard and Paris Hilton. Dan Castellaneta did Thing One and Thing Two voice work.
“Conrad and Sally Walden are home alone with their pet fish. It is raining outside and there is nothing to do until The Cat in the Hat walks in the front door. He introduces them to their imagination and, at first, it’s all fun and games until things get out of hand and, The Cat must go, go, go, before their parents get back.”
♦ Tim Allen was originally cast as The Cat but, had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict for The Santa Clause II.
♦ There was so much smog during the shoot that the sky had to be digitally replaced.
♦ Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss’s widow, was appalled by this movie and decided to reject any future adaptations of her late husband’s work. She was so furious after she saw the film that she legally forbade Hollywood from making anymore live-action stories (all subsequent films have been animated).
♦ Mike Myers said that the Cat’s personality is a composite of director/producer Bruce Paltrow, his Saturday Night Live (1975) character “Linda Richman” and, actor Charles Nelson Reilly.
♦ Peter Travers of Rolling Stone Magazine had a different take:
“I hated How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which was a smash for Jim Carrey. Cat, another over-blown Hollywood raid on Dr. Seuss, has a draw in Mike Myers, who, inexplicably, plays the Cat by mimicking Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.”
♡ Film Music (David Newman/2004 Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) Film & TV Awards)
♠ Worst Excuse for an Actual Movie (2004/Golden Raspberry (Razzie) Awards)
♠ Worst Film (2004/Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association (DFWFCA) Awards)
♠ Worst Picture (2003/The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards *Site Defunct July 1, 2007*)
♠ Worst Screenplay for a Film Grossing More than $100 Million Using Hollywood Math (Alec Berg, David Mandel & Jeff Schaffer/2003/The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards)
♠ Most Annoying Non-Human Character (2003/The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards)
♠ The Spencer Breslin Award for Worst Performance by a Child (Spencer Breslin/2003/The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards)
♢ 21 Nominations [Not all bad. The kids & teens liked this and, the hair & makeup was noticed by the Guild. The Teen Choice Awards nominated Sean Hayes for Choice Movie Hissy Fit, which I found amusing. ~Vic]