Category Archives: Songs

Montage

“Montage” is a long ago song that for some reason left an imprint on my mind.  It was when I was a teenager that I heard it in the movie “How Sweet It Is” starring James Garner and Debbie Reynolds who portray a married couple who become chaperones to a group of teenagers, including their adolescent son, on a trip to Europe.  While this song’s pop melody and catchy lyrics peaked my interest, it’s actually taken me some years to actually track it down.

From what I’ve read recently it is believed that songwriter/composer/singer, Jimmy Webb, was asked to write a song specifically for this movie “How Sweet It Is” (released in 1968) and this is how the song “Montage,” was created.  The version here is sung by the group “Love Generation.”

Montage

“It was written on my mind like the back of an envelope rehearsed
and very carefully in reach,
Like cool cucumber noncommittal speech,
That I wrote while hanging out down at the beach.
And I shivered from the cold of the ice in my granite heart,
Knowing that you didn’t have a prayer,
And then I rang the bell and you were there.

And darling, then your face was full of me,
And then your eyes were, too.

And I knew that you knew that I knew
That you knew that I knew that you knew
That I knew that you knew that I knew.

I regained my self control and I tried to close my big fat mouth
Before I love you fell out on the floor,
I didn’t feel like Batman anymore,
I hit my funny elbow on the door.
And then your brother asked if I had money for a haircut,
And the pimple on my neck began to hurt,
Suddenly I wished I’d changed my shirt.

And darling, then your face was full of me
And then your eyes were, too.

And I knew that you knew that I knew
That you knew that I knew that you knew
That I knew that you knew that I knew.”

—Jimmy Webb (born, 1946)

the-love-generation-montage-from-how-sweet-it-is-i-knew-that-you-knew-imperial                       MontagePicardy

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“Don’t Think Twice” – Movies borrowing Bob Dylan songs and lyrics

Most of the literate world is aware at this point that songwriter musician Bob Dylan was recently awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.  For those who don’t follow the news regularly there was some concern in the days following the announcement that Mr. Dylan couldn’t be found because he hadn’t formally commented about receiving this honor.  Finally he did respond publicly saying that receiving the award was “amazing, incredible.  Whoever dreams about something like that?”  It’s been reported that Mr. Dylan won’t be attending the awards ceremony, however, in Sweden on December 10 as he has another commitment at this time.

In the aftermath of Bob Dylan being the recipient of this award, I was reminded about seeing earlier this autumn two recent film titles that are lines lifted from Bob Dylan songs.  It made me realize how much his music has permeated our cultural consciousness.  These very recent films are entitled “Complete Unknown” (2016) and “Don’t Think Twice” (2016).

I began to wonder how many movies have borrowed their titles from Dylan songs through the years.  Here is a list of some films (as well as a few TV series):

“Forever Young” (1992)

“Corrina, Corrina” (1994) (Dylan didn’t write this blues/country song – his cover of it is well known)

“Just Like a Woman” – Three movies with this title since the late 1960s: 1967, 1992 and 2012

“A Simple Twist of Fate” (1994)

“Like a Rolling Stone” (1994) – Japanese film

“If Not For You” (1995) – TV series that ran 8 episodes

“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (1997) – German film

“All Along the Watchtower” (1999) – TV series that ran 6 episodes

“Tangled Up in Blue” – Three different full length films have been made with this title.  Their respective years of release were 2004, 2009 and 2011.

“Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast” (2005)

“Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan” (2006)

“Blowin’ in the Wind” (2007)

“One Too Many Mornings” (2010)

“My Back Pages” (2011) – Japanese film

I’m actually leaving out innumerable short films and individual television episodes (from a wide range of TV series) whose titles also borrow from Dylan’s repertoire.

Epilogue

In spring 2016 Rolling Stone magazine published this list of the 100 best Bob Dylan songs. Here is the online link: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/100-greatest-bob-dylan-songs-20160524

And in providing some commentary in regard to these songs, writer/director Cameron Crowe states “Dylan’s stuff continues to inform every generation – it just lives and lives and lives…”

Elvis, liking his music (& also a movie about him meeting Nixon)

Elvis!   I was too young to understand what all the fuss was about when I was growing up – I grew up on the Beatles and the first wave of the British Invasion bands that followed and Elvis just seemed corny and out of date to me.

Then one nite, in the mid 1980s, I heard a song sung live by a local rock band in the city where I was living at the time.  This song was pure rock n roll, up tempo and very danceable – it dazzled me like a meteor roaring across the sky (to make my own corny metaphor).  Afterwards I asked someone in the band who wrote this song and the musician looked at me oddly – it’s an Elvis song.

After that I began to take an interest in this American icon of rock n roll.  Within that year I watched the film performance of his 1968 Las Vegas concert.  I began to realize Elvis contributed quite a repertoire of very likeable rock n roll songs to contemporary music.  While I didn’t make it a mission to seek out any other specific songs per se, I definitely had a new respect for Elvis Presley and his music.

Now recently I saw the movie “Elvis and Nixon” released in Spring 2016 starring actor Michael Shannon as the King of Rock n Roll and actor Kevin Spacey as the President.  It’s based on the real life meeting between Elvis and Nixon that took place sometime in  Dec 1970/early January 1971.  The film takes its premise from an infamous photograph of the two of them shaking hands when they met at the White House.  No one knows what their conversation, however, was actually about.  The movie extrapolates on this meeting by additionally focusing on friends of Elvis who possibly accompanied him to the White House when he traveled there and also on Nixon’s aides who (in this film version anyway) encourage Nixon to go and ahead meet this visitor, Elvis Presley.  “Elvis and Nixon” is ultimately kind of quirky and fun and possibly of interest to Elvis fans.

Anyway here is the song that made me like Elvis!

 

More Soundtracks…”Aloha”

The film “Aloha” was released in 2015, and before its release evidently this film was riddled with controversy.  Criticism initially stemmed from what is regarded as insensitive casting choices, and then in the wake of Sony studio’s hacked email communications, it was revealed that some studio executives believed the film was a mistake and the studio would lose money.

I saw “Aloha” on DVD the other night – it isn’t a great film, and in my opinion some of the plot lacks plausibility.  The chemistry among the actors was believable, however, and that kept my interest.

What “Aloha” does have is a cavalcade of good music ranging from traditional Hawaiian songs to selections by David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Hall & Oates, Eddie Vedder & his seven-year-old daughter, Harper, and more.  Given that the writer/director, Cameron Crowe is a former editor/writer for Rolling Stone Magazine, and Crowe’s other movies have similarly memorable musical moments, the abundance of music in “Aloha” is not all that surprising.

“Heart is a Drum” by Beck Hansen is a song in the film that captured me.

Christmas Bells

ChristmasBellsDec2015       For some reason this year I’ve read more than one time the back story concerning the poem “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” written by American poet/author, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in December 1863.  The story behind the writing of this poem is that Longfellow had been in a prolonged depression when he wrote it.  What precipitated his depression was his beloved wife, Fanny, had died in tragic circumstances in summer 1861 (her dress caught fire, and unable to remove it, she died from the burns).  In the years and months leading up to Fanny’s death Henry and Fanny had been married for 18 years, living happily in Boston and had five children ranging in ages from 5 – 17.  Fanny was not only a devoted wife and mother, she was a close confidant of Longfellow’s, sharing many of his literary and cultural interests as well.  After Fanny’s unexpected death, Henry was in a funk for months and unable to compose anything other than brief written correspondence to family and friends.

Three years later, to compound his sorrow, Longfellow’s eldest son, Charles, who had gone off to fight in the Civil War, was badly injured in a battle in late November 1863.  When the war began in 1861, both Henry and Fanny had hoped their son wouldn’t join the Union army and fight, and yet this was something that Henry was not able to prevent.

One of the compelling aspects of this poem “I Hear the Bells on Christmas Day” written on Christmas 1863 is in it Longfellow’s bleak outlook takes a turn eventually toward hope.  Additionally this poem went on to become a well-known Christmas song after being set to music in 1872 by British composer, John Baptiste Calkin.

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)

 

Soundtracks

I like to watch now and again movies that I saw some years ago when they were first released. If it’s been a number of years (25 or more), I often remember the film’s basic story line and not much of the details. Some movies I like to see more than once after it’s been a long time. A movie that I just saw for about the 3rd time since its initial release is quite full of music from an era of time when the film’s characters first met.

At this 3rd viewing of the film I thought about all the songs that are featured in it and thought of what my two top favorite songs are among them all.

Here are the songs that appear in the 1983 film “The Big Chill” that have emerged as my favorites:

“The Weight” by the Band

I wasn’t really aware of the Band until they broke up. I think it was the 1978 film “The Last Waltz” that introduced me to their music in a complete way, and ironically it was a film about this group’s final concert. “The Weight” is a song that has grown on me over the years.

“Gimme Some Lovin’” by Spencer Davis Group

I have loved this song and it’s uptempo beat since it was first released. This a song that will make a person want to dance! (and shout “hey!”)

In the film “The Big Chill” this song is played when there is a backyard touch football game going on.

I’m just realizing here that “Gimme Some Lovin'” is actually a fairly short (time-wise) song.

Take a sad song and make it better

 

Mallorca

 

Cynthia Lennon (musician John Lennon’s first wife) died earlier this year on the island of Mallorca (Majorca, Spain). Recently one of my sisters visited briefly this island and sent me a postcard from there.

In reading up on Cynthia Lennon I learned that around the time of Cynthia and John Lennon’s divorce in the late 1960s Paul McCartney visited Cynthia and her son, Julian where they were living in England. Cynthia is said to have been surprised by Paul McCartney’s visit. McCartney, it is believed, wrote the song “Hey Jude” as a source of comfort for Julian at that time.

“What’s in back of the sky”

Gotta get off, gonna get
Have to get off from this ride
Gotta get hold, gonna get
Need to get hold of my pride.
When did I get, where did I
How was I caught in this game
When will I know, where will I
How will I think of my name
When did I stop feeling sure, feeling safe
And start wondering why, wondering why
Is this a dream, am I here, where are you
What’s in back of the sky, why do we cry
Gotta get off, gonna get
Off of this merry-go-round
Gotta get off, gonna get
Need to get on where I’m bound
When did I get, where did I
Why am I lost as a lamb
When will I know, where will I
How will I learn who I am
Is this a dream, am I here, where are you
Tell me, when will I know, how will I know
When will I know why?

–Dory Previn, songwriter (1925 – 2012); sung by Dionne Warwick

Sunday in the Park with George

“Putting it Together” from Sunday in the Park with George

What’s Been Left Out?! (television version…)

Film viewers beware! I watch movies on television (network and cable) a lot. I also do watch newer films, either on DVD (normally rented either from Redbox or the nearby public library) or via the “On Demand” service that is offered on cable.

Watching a televised version of a movie normally I’m not familiar enough with an older film to know if a scene or segment’s been edited out for TV. Not so with the movie “Thelma and Louise.” Now seeing this for the second time on television (and my third viewing overall since it was released 22 years ago now), I am disappointed that a scene from this movie is missing from the televised version.

Yes, gone, at least from the two televised versions I’ve seen now in the past 6-7 years. It’s the scene where deep into the movie Louise and Thelma are driving through the desert at night and the Marianne Faithful song “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” is playing in the background. I was so moved by this scene when I first saw this movie in 1991 that within two weeks I went out and bought the Marianne Faithful album “Broken English” where the song “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” appears. It is a song that made me want to go to Paris before I die (and finally in 2003 I was able to do this).

Ok, I realize this particular scene in “Thelma and Louise” must’ve been edited as it’s not considered pivotal to the plot. That’s a shame really as this song and scene lend poignancy to the movie, reflecting the dark turn (literally) that the lives of these two characters had taken. For anyone who remembers this song and this scene, here is the complete segment provided on YouTube by Bailey Cooper (thank you for Mr. Cooper for for posting).  Disclosure:  This blog was updated on 7/15/2017 with this Bailey Cooper rendition of this song segment:

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20110529/life-features/-Get-a-life-and-they-did.368033

http://fandangogroovers.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/desert-island-cd/