Hello (1983) – Lionel Richie

40 years ago since its release, this classic 80’s ballad still hits close to my heart. Hello is my number 1 go-to song in my scarce opportunities to practice Karaoke. It’s one of the few songs I can sing pretty well. There’s even a nice family video I have singing it with the kids a couple of Christmas’ ago.

Anyhows, if you haven’t seen it already, I recommend you watch the official video of the song below and realise how problematic such a video would be in these modern times. It features the story of Richie as a theater and acting teacher having unrequited love for a blind student.

Hello is the third single from Lionel Richie’s second solo album Can’t Slow Down (1983) and reached number one on three Billboard music charts. According to wikipedia – The song is memorable for the line “Hello, is it me you’re looking for?” The phrase started the song’s composition, as when James Anthony Carmichael visited Richie, the singer greeted him that way, to which Carmichael replied, “Finish that song.” Richie initially felt that the song was “corny” but ultimately “by the time I finished the verse, I fell in love with the song again.”

Can’t Slow Down is the second solo studio album by American recording artist Lionel Richie. It sold over 20 million copies, and is Richie’s best-selling album of all time. Five singles were released from Can’t Slow Down, all of which hit the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including two that reached No. 1: “All Night Long (All Night)” and today’s track “Hello“. The album also won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1985.

Reference:
1. Hello (Lionel Richie song) – Wikipedia

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Hell Broke Luce (2011) – Tom Waits

This is one of my favourite songs from Tom. He went into beast-mode on this track depicting the horrors of war. Someone wrote: ‘I listen to this every night before I go to sleep… Tom Waits voice scares all the nightmares away‘. The piece is a hauntingly surrealist illustration of its subject; a PTSD-ravaged war veteran Jeff Lucey, who committed suicide in 2004 at age 23. It was relayed by Tom almost word for word by the suicide note/poem found clutched in his hand.
Hell Broke Luce is the second song to feature here from Tom Wait’s Grammy nominated album – Bad as Me.

I had a good home but I left
I had a good home but I left, right, left
That big fucking bomb made me deaf, deaf
A Humvee mechanic put his Kevlar on wrong
I guarantee you’ll meet up with a suicide bomb
And Hell broke luce
Hell broke luce

The video of Hell Broke Luce below described by Waits as “an apocalyptic war dream,” is by Illustrator, photographer and director Matt Mahurin who is said to have created some of the most iconic images of contemporary American popular culture. “My work has always had an organic look,” Mahurin states.

References:
1. Tom Waits update: Oh, so it was a video for ‘Hell Broke Luce’ – Los Angeles Times
2. ‘Hell Broke Luce:’ Bringing Tom Waits’ Apocalyptic War Dream to Life – Jennifer Wolfe

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Random Thoughts on the Star Wars Enterprise

When I heard the Obi Wan TV series was released I was hoping they could rejuvenate the enterprise. A younger Obi Wan played by Ewan McGregor in the Star Wars prequels was one of the few shining lights in what was an overall disappointing trilogy. But wait, the worst was yet to come. Post original cannon and Lucas, Disney thought they could revive the franchise series with episodes V11 – V1V. I didn’t even watch the last film when I learnt the Emperor had been revived and in essence all that Luke in the OT (original trilogy) had overcome and defeated was all in vain.

I remember fondly watching Episode 4 with my father when I was a youngen. I have watched it often with my own children. Upon each viewing I couldn’t wait until Obi Wan appeared having scared off the sand people on Tatooine and help Luke. Their ensuing discussion at his home is of course the stuff of movie legend. It’s impressive how much lore Lucas distilled into it. This really is the foundational lore scene of all SW. I had imagined this new Disney production of Obi Wan would flesh this out on Tatooine and make for an intriguing and nostalgic epic prequel to the OT. Kenobi should’ve been a masterful home run adding multiple layers of depth to Obi-Wan’s character. Nope.

All of Star Wars post OT feels like a sick joke. Don’t writers have imagination or a longing to immerse in the ‘force’ which pervaded the OT? It’s as though the writers have no real life experience to show them how to tell a good story. I don’t know how people, myself included allow themselves to expect decent story-telling, or competency from Disney. If anything sums up how shit ‘woke-culture’ has made society it is found in their interpretation of Star Wars. To take a leaf out of Episode IV ‘We will crush the rebellion with one swift stroke‘. Congratulations Disney because you have done exactly that.
I’ll turn it over to the Critical Dinker on his thoughts of Obi-Wan:

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Breathe (1996) – The Prodigy

The Prodigy live at Knebworth 1996

Back when this song was released I was posted to the biggest shit-hole job one could ever hope for at Canberra’s Defence Department. I wrote a chapter about that experience, but prefer not to relay it here because I might have to read it again. When I escaped for Lunch I would listen to this song blaring in my car. It was a good destresser. I had a friend called Kevin who I flatted-with and we would venture out to electronic music clubs and ‘go-to-town’ as you might describe it. After that 2 year escapade I haven’t listened to much electronic music, but I have fond memories of this track Breathe because it represented the few joys in that period in my life and allowed me to ‘Breathe’ away my disdain for work.

Breathe isn’t really an electronic number, although there is an element of that genre to it; it seems to me more ingrained in the anarchist punk-rock 80’s English sound. Apart from the Smiths which has some stake in all that, I am largely unfamiliar and actually nonplussed by that music. I suppose it all depends on time and place and what tractor-beams you towards it given personal circumstances and the social / political environment you find yourself. Anyhow, onto the song…

Breathe was the second single released from The Prodigy’s third album ‘Fat of the Land‘. It became the group’s second consecutive number-one in the United Kingdom and also topped the charts in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden. I agree with Larry Flick’s (from Billboards) assessment of the song:  “with its jittery, faux funk beat, caustic synths, and snarling vocals” gets stronger with repeated spins‘.

I’ve lost count how many times I have heard this song, but I never grow tired of it. My kids love hearing it.. God bless them.. so it’s still relevant today at least in this small corner of Colombia.

Breathe the pressure
Come play my game, I’ll test ya
Psychosomatic, addict, insane
Breathe the pressure
Come play my game, I’ll test ya
Psychosomatic, addict, insane

Reference:
1. Breathe (The Prodigy Song) – wikipedia

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Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now (1984) – The Smiths

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now is is one of my favourite songs by The Smiths. If I was going to introduce someone to their music then I would present the following:

  • Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,
  • How Soon is Now,
  • William It was Really Nothing,
  • There is a Light that Never Goes Out, and
  • This Charming Man.

All 5 are classics of contemporary rock music in my opinion. This is the first of the big 5 to appear here in the music library project. What makes The Smiths so indelible to my ear is they are unrestrainedly honest, provocative and unfamiliar. A description I like about them is that ‘The Smiths are the band from the 80’s – most anti 80’s‘. I had a myriad of options with which video to present below of Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, but I went with the stellar live version in concert (Translated in Spanish).

The lyrics here are so wickedly playful in Morrisseys’ usual self pitying rhetoric, but his intonation of voice in this song is something to behold. How he varies his cadence and inflection of the words ‘Now‘ and ‘Live or Die‘ is one for the Rock-Gods. Not to mention Johnny Marr’s fever-pitch riff just elevates this song to another level.

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour
But heaven knows I’m miserable now
I was looking for a job and then I found a job
And heaven knows I’m miserable now


In my life, why do I give valuable time
To people who don’t care if I live or die?


Two lovers entwined pass me by
And heaven knows I’m miserable now

In reference to its opening verse, Morrissey once explained, “When I had no job I could pinpoint my depression, but when I did get a job, I was still depressed.” As the page Mockingbird discussed: He has enough self-knowledge to know that our real problems are rarely circumstantial (Mark 7)Morrissey is his own worst enemy, or, rather, the only person he despises more than himself is everyone else, the “lovers entwined” being just one more walking condemnation.

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now was released in May 1984 and reached No 10 in the UK Singles Chart making it their first top 10 single.

References:
1. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now – Wikipedia
2. Heaven Knows Morrissey is Miserable Now – mbird

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Magic in the Moonlight (2014) – Woody Allen (Friday’s Finest)

Stanley: I can’t forgive you, only God can forgive you.

[He begins to walk out the door]

Sophie: But you said there is no God.

Stanley: [stopping and turning for effect] Precisely my point.

Last night, I was on the verge of beddy-byes and I did exactly what you shouldn’t do and took one last zap through the cable channels. Low and behold in the last channel called Film & Arts the above movie appeared and it was about to start. As the credits rolled in that distinguished white print against the black background and the roaring 20’s music which I was accustomed to seeing in Woody Allen films I waited to see who was the director. You guessed it as did I. Funnily, after watching just 5 minutes I found myself wide awake and scooped two fistfuls of my favourite nut variety and buckled myself in for the long-haul.

IMDB Storyline:
Wei Ling Soo, a.k.a. Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth) is a magician who has dedicated his life to revealing fraudulent spiritualists. He plans to quickly uncover the truth behind celebrated spiritualist Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) and her scheming mother (Marcia Gay Harden). However, the more time he spends with her, he starts thinking that she might actually be able to communicate with the other world, but even worse, he might be falling in love with her.

I was captivated by the storyline, cinematography and the music. It’s a classy-act and beautifully written by Woody. The existential themes (such as; the existence of God, the materialist worldview against the supernatural and significance of life) which run rampant through much of his Guru director – Ingmar Bergman’s filmography are channelled here in this film. And if that sounds “heavy,” the miracle of the movie is its very lightness. It is eloquent, cheeky and intriguing. Magic in the Moonlight is the sixth film to appear at Friday’s Finest from Woody and it was his 44th film. It is one of his most poorly received with 51% on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.5 on IMDB, but to my mind even one of Woody Allen’s less successful works is better than what 99% of directors could achieve in their lifetimes.

(Spoiler Alert – kinda) I can understand one of the major criticisms of the film which concerns its finale, specifically the 180 degree about-turn of Colin Firth’s character which doesn’t seem congruent with his materialist-rationalist world-view that we were accustomed. I also found it quite the quandary, but I think Woody’s rationale for such a character’s about-face is the significance – that ‘Love’ is not rational. The other major criticism seems to be in the lack of chemistry in the characters played by Firth and Emma Stone. I also did not see the love Stone’s character exuded as reciprocated by Firth’s; so I can identify with that frustration as a viewer.

Otherwise, I found Magic in the Moonlight a very charming and alluring film as I do with almost all of Woody’s output. He seems to write so cleverly about social-classes in society and how they interact and the nuance in the performances, not to mention: the beautiful sets and music which lend to such an enriching and fulfilling movie experience.
There is a lovely scene in the middle of the film where the protagonists are inundated by rain and they find refuge in an observatory. Its the first time Emma Stone falls in love inside an observatory. The second time is in La La Land (2016).

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Heartbeat (1958) – Buddy Holly

This is the second track to appear here from Buddy Holly. Heartbeat is an adorably winsome song and Holly makes it his own with his peculiar intonations. The first song to appear here: Everyday was released a year prior to Heartbeat. More information about Holly’s upbringing, career and tragic passing can be found in my previous article. Heartbeat which was credited to Bob Montgomery and Norman Petty was Holly’s second to last single to be released and it was a minor hit in the US reaching No 82 in the Billboard Hot 100. It had more success in the UK reaching No 30.
A recording session in Clovis was arranged in May 1958 and Holly hired Tommy Allsup to play lead guitar. The session produced the recording of “Heartbeat”. Holly was impressed by Allsup and invited him to join the Crickets.

Heartbeat
Why do you miss when my baby kisses me?
Heartbeat
Why does a love kiss stay in my memory?

Piddle dee pat
I know that new love thrills me
I know that true love will be

During his short career, Holly wrote and recorded many songs. He is often regarded as the artist who defined the traditional rock-and-roll lineup of two guitars, bass, and drums. He was a major influence on later popular music artists, including Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Elton John. He was among the first artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1986. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 13 in its list of “100 Greatest Artists“.
I always enjoy listening to Bob Dylan’s version of Heartbeat in his concert for one.

References:
1. Heartbeat (Buddy Holly song) – wikipedia

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The Heart of the Matter (1989) – Don Henley

This is third track by Don Henley (solo) to feature here and the second from his third solo studio album, The End of the Innocence. It is my joint favourite song by Henley along with the title track from the record. Both contain superb lyrics. He even told Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers‘ guitarist and songwriter Mike Campbell when they were cutting the track, ‘that lyric was something he had been trying to write for a long time and it finally came out the way he liked it, something he really wanted to sing. A lot of people like that song. A lot of girls like it‘. Below is an excerpt of the lyrics:

And I thought of all the bad luck
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me
And you lost you
What are these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?

But I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew
I’m learning again

I’ve been tryin’ to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if, even if
You don’t love me anymor
e

  • Written by Henley, Mike Campbell, and J. D. Souther

The album is Henley’s best selling release, selling over 6 million copies in the United States alone, peaking at No. 8. The album featured three Top 40 singles “The End of the Innocence“, “The Heart of the Matter“, and “The Last Worthless Evening“. Those singles reached No. 8, No. 21, and No. 21 respectively. The original studio recording is not available on you tube so I have posted a live version which seems more in keeping with the original.

References:
1. The Heart of the Matter – wikipedia
2. The End of the Innocence – wikipedia

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Heart of Gold (1971) – Neil Young

My estimation of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell (who are good friends) has plummeted since their active-promotion of cancellation culture recently; in particular objecting to a certain commentator appearing on Spotify. Even Springsteen’s E Street guitarist Nils Logren went along with it. See more here. This song by Neil is in some sense diametrically opposed to how these older singer-songwriters comported themselves in recent times.

I always thought these artists would have been pro-free speech considering how they were glorified by ‘western-culture’ which represented above all-else free expression. Resentment can be truly ugly. Joni was reported by the LA times for saying Bob Dylan was a plagiarist, then in a later interview she denied having said it. But she did say that Bob just pulled songs out of a box and that he was ‘a bad guitar player and he’s got a lot of borrowed things’.

I had to get that off my chest before presenting today’s song. Leaving all that aside, I was a great admirer of this track. Surprisingly in 1985, Bob Dylan said here he disliked hearing the song, despite always liking Young – ” Dylan said, ‘I think it was up at number one for a long time, and I’d say,Shit, that’s me. If it sounds like me, it should as well be me.‘ This quote by Dylan seems clearly in jest.

Heart of Gold was the title track of the documentary directed by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) about Neil Young’s Prairie Wind concert at the famous Ryman Auditorium also known as Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville. This documentary showcased Neil Young’s comeback performance after brain surgery.

Heart of Gold was from his fourth album Harvest is Young’s only U.S. No. 1 single.  Rolling Stone ranked it No. 297 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

I’ve been to Hollywood, I’ve been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I’ve been in my mind, it’s such a fine line


That keeps me searchin’ for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old
Keeps me searchin’ for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old

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The Wrestler (2008) – Darren Aronofsky (Friday’s Finest)

I was surprised I hadn’t already featured The Wrestler here at Friday’s Finest. This documentary style – minimalist film gave it a subject with an immense intimacy and as an audience member you felt entirely immersed in The Wrestler’s small world and personal connections. Mickey Rourke gives a phenomenal performance as the ageing professional wrestler and was unfortunate not to win best actor at the Oscars. He won just about every other leading actor award that year, but lost out to Sean Penn in Milk.

IMDB Storyline:
This is a drama about an aging professional wrestler, decades past his prime, who now barely gets by working small wrestling shows in VFW halls and as a part-time grocery store employee. As he faces health problems that may end his wrestling career for good he attempts to come to terms with his life outside the ring: by working full time at the grocery store, trying to reconcile with the daughter he abandoned in childhood and forming a closer bond with a stripper he has romantic feelings for. He struggles with his new life and an offer of a high-profile rematch with his 1980s arch-nemesis, The Ayatollah, which may be his ticket back to stardom.

Not only does Mickey Rourke impress beyond expectations, but the supporting cast Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood are superb and give this movie so much depth. Interestingly, Nicolas Cage entered negotiations to star as Randy, but Mickey Rourke replaced him in the lead role.

There is one scene in particular of Rourke trying to mend his relationship with his estranged daughter (Wood) which is gut-wrenchingly beautiful. I had completely forgotten I was looking at Mickey Rourke. That guy on the screen simply was Randy ‘the Ram’ Robinson. The film received universal acclaim and Rotten Tomatoes reported that 98% of critics gave the film positive reviews.

As an audience member you feel privileged, but a little daunted to be thrust behind the scenes of what really goes on in Wrestling. What we all knew was a staged, high-octane spectacle isn’t as glamorous as we may have been led to believe. The Wrestler presents us with the reality of what these wrestlers have to contend with daily and the risks they take-on in order to entertain the public. The movie itself feels like a risky proposition to unleash the inner sanctum of this previously hidden world into the spotlight, but it is deftly handled and exudes great respect for the Wrestling fraternity. It’s a bit like a high wiring act to just get the mood, the stunts and the performances at their optimal.

Below, I have presented Bruce Springsteen’s title song from the movie. Rourke told Springsteen about his upcoming film and asked if Springsteen could write a song for it. Springsteen subsequently did, played it for Rourke and director Darren Aronofsky before a concert. When they liked it, Springsteen gave them the song for no fee. The song was widely expected to receive a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Song where Springsteen would perform it on the awards show, but in what Rolling Stone termed “shocking news”, it was denied a nomination when the Academy nominated only three songs in the category rather than the usual five.

References:
1. The Wrestler (movie) – Wikipedia
2. The Wrestler (song) – wikipedia

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