Posts Tagged ‘Stayin’ Alive’

It’s been a wild and wacky few weeks for me and mine, so much so that my never-ending quest for new sonic adventures has taken a backseat to comfort music – aka old favorites. That’s not to say a few new releases haven’t turned my ear, though they’re actually from old “new favorite artists” as well as a few longtime musical companions.

1) Diane Birch – “Boys on Canvas.” Dub this one the “Love Art Blues.” On Valentine’s Day, the Church of Birch’s charismatic prelate shared this messianic message, which is sure to leave listeners floating in the clouds. She noted in a Facebook post that she and producer Paul “Strangeboy” Stacey placed performance ahead of perfection – aka the Neil Young approach. Diane’s piano and vocal were recorded in one take, while Paul and his twin brother Jeremy handled bass and drums. 

2) Shelby Lynne – “Here I Am.” This song, which Shelby released a few weeks back, isn’t “new” to anyone who purchased the Here I Am soundtrack and/or DVD from Shelby’s merchandise table a few years back, but it has finally been given a wide release. The movie, too, has been re-edited and retitled When We Kill the Creators, and is playing festivals to rightful acclaim, and the songs themselves were re-mixed for a new album that’s due April 17th. The original soundtrack, for those who have it can attest, features between-song spoken interludes lifted from the film that are riveting in and of themselves; we’ll have to wait and see whether they remain on the new album. (I’ve become so accustomed to hearing them that I can’t imagine not hearing “six feet under is six feet under.”)

3) Rumer – “Bristlecone Pine.” A few weeks back, singer-songwriter Rumer released “Bristlecone Pine” from her forthcoming album, Nashville Tears, which finds her performing the songs of legendary country songwriter Hugh Prestwood. It’s like listening in on heaven, just about.

4) Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – “Stayin’ Alive.” Bruce Springsteen released the digital-only Songs Under Cover compilation on Valentine’s Day. It features an eclectic collection of in-concert cover songs from 1975 through 2017, including this bon mot from Brisbane in 2017.

5) Nichole Wagner – “Life During Wartime.” The Texas-based singer-songwriter previews her forthcoming Dance Songs for the Apocalypse EP, which is slated to include Neil Young’s classic “Ambulance Blues,” with this tasty cover of the Talking Heads.

fullsizeoutput_1018So I found myself, as a visitor, in a hospital room yesterday morning with time to kill. Sure, I have a few games on my phone that I sometimes (obsessively) play, but I wasn’t in the mood. What to do? I decided to give the new-to-me Xfinity TV app, which enables subscribers to take the cable-TV experience with them, a try. (It’s Xfinity’s way of competing with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, I imagine.) It’s a good idea marred by the same basic problem of cable-TV in general: excess.

In other words, every friggin’ channel you don’t want is there, sharing space with the few you do, in the “live” TV section. As a result, scrolling through the guide is something of a nightmare.

fullsizeoutput_1017So, just as I often do at home, I found my way to the OnDemand section; and, thus, today’s Top 5 was born. No rhyme nor reason to the picks – these are, quite literally, the first music-minded opening sequences that occurred to me (that I could find on YouTube, I hasten to add).

1) Fast Times at Ridgemont High – “We Got the Beat” (Go-Go’s). I have to say, I’ve seen this teen comedy many times, including at the movie theater at the Village Mall in Horsham in 1982, though not once in the past 25 years…until yesterday, that is, when I watched the first few minutes to gauge the quality of the picture via the hospital’s Wi-Fi. Which is to say: I’d forgotten just about everything about it, including that the Go-Go’s provided the soundtrack to the opening – and what an opening! In just a few minutes, it portrays mall-based teen life circa the early ‘80s as well if not better than anything I’ve seen.

2) Valley Girl – “Girls Like Me” (Bonnie Hayes & the Wild Combo). Another early ‘80s teen film, another early ‘80s pop masterpiece. (I wrote more about the film here.)

3) Saturday Night Fever – “Stayin’ Alive” (Bee-Gees). Through the years, the film has taken something of a backseat to its pulsating soundtrack, which is a shame: It’s a quite-good (and fairly downbeat) look at life in NYC during the late ‘70s.

4) Grease – “Grease” (Frankie Valli). What can be said about this film? Some folks hate it; I don’t. As I wrote here, I saw it a dozen times in ’78 – and have seen it far more times than I can count in the years since.

5) Foxes – “On the Radio” (Donna Summer). Another good (though not great) film that documents a slice of life experienced by some teens in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. It’s notable for starring Jodie Foster and former Runaway Cherie Curie. (I couldn’t find just the opening credits, so the below clip is actually for the entire film. I.e., it’s sure to be removed by the YouTube gods soon…)

And a few bonuses…

6) American Graffiti – “Rock Around the Clock” (Bill Haley & the Comets). A classic film that never gets old. On a related note: Cindy Williams’ memoir, Shirley, I Jest!, includes her memories of making the movie – along with lots more. Well worth the read!

7) Billy Jack – “One Tin Soldier” (Coven) – Oh, I know: Billy Jack?! Despite its many flaws, it’s one of my favorite movies. I first saw it as a kid, when this song and the film’s fight scenes grabbed my attention; and, in the decades since, the underlying hippie message of peace and love (and karate chops to back ‘em up) appeal to me all the more…