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Archive for the ‘Soundtracks’ Category

Adam West

Posted by purplemary54 on June 10, 2017

When I saw the news that TV’s favorite Batman Adam West had passed today, I was sadder than I thought I would be.  The 1960s television version of Batman is often ridiculed for its cartoonish action, ham-handed moralizing, and general silliness.  People of my generation grew up on this version, but we were indoctrinated into the Dark Knight school of Batman characterization in the 80s and 90s; our then-teenaged psyches found more to love in the troubled, vengeful version that is so ubiquitous today than we did in the brightly-colored uprightness of our childhoods.  But Adam West’s portrayal of Batman as a decent man who fought crime because it was the right thing to do became a pop culture touchstone, and made West an icon.

Adam West did a lot of other acting besides Batman, but that character is what he will be most remembered for.  One of the things I loved is how he embraced it and how he in turn used it as a base for much of his recent work.  West did voice acting for a number of cartoons, and he used the same cadences and phrasings he did as Batman.  It made him easily recognizable and, I think, brought a lot of warm feelings to those who remembered that voice from Saturdays in front of the TV.

So I bid a fond farewell to West with the Batman theme, a tune almost as iconic as his portrayal of the Caped Crusader.  Composed by jazzman Neal Hefti, the catchy “na na na na na na na na” riff runs throughout and is really what makes it such an effective ear worm.  (Seriously.  Try to get it out of your head.  I dare you.)  Because this version of Batman relied so heavily on the comic book version of the character that was popular at the time, this is exactly the kind of music you’d expect to hear if a comic book could play music when you opened it.  With its jazzy and surf undertones, it was perfect.

So long, Mr. West.  Thank you for bringing so much happiness to so many people.

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“A Real Indication”

Posted by purplemary54 on March 2, 2017

I just watched David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the 1992 prequel to his brilliant television show.  The film’s ostensible story is the telling of what happened in the days just before Laura Palmer’s death.  It’s real story is a human soul and mind in disintegration, of the hidden dangers lurking just beneath the seemingly normal exterior of the human psyche.  One of the things I enjoy most about Lynch’s work is their deliberate interiority, the way the line between what is real and imagined is blurred into non-existence.  It’s difficult to tell the difference between things that happen in the physical world, the so-called “real” world, and the things that happen in the minds of his characters.  It’s a very real possibility that there is no “real” world in Lynch’s films, just an extended dream sequence meant to represent the darkest thoughts, desires, and nightmares of human beings.  In short, this is one weird movie.

This song from the soundtrack of Fire Walk With Me is definitely cut from the same cloth as the film.  David Lynch wrote the lyrics, Angelo Badalamenti the music.  And like everything else Lynch has his hands on, there is a sense of unreality to this song.  It’s unmoored from context or genre.  Jazzy but not quite Jazz.  Spoken, not quite sung.  It reminds of Pere Ubu or the Residents.  Or Was Not Was’ great “Dad, I’m in Jail.”  I googled the name of the band listed as the performer, but there doesn’t seem to be any information on Thought Gang; most of the hits related to a novel of the same name by Tibor Fischer.  That seems appropriate.

It’s also totally appropriate that this clip simply uses the empty red room from Special Agent Dale Cooper’s dreams.  And Laura Palmer’s dreams.  And the Black Lodge.  You won’t know what any of this means unless you’ve seen Twin Peaks.  I’m not sure you’ll understand this post at all unless you’ve seen Twin Peaks.  I highly recommend both the TV show and the movie, and pretty much every other movie David Lynch has made.  He’s one of my favorite filmmakers, although I admit to not having seen several of his films; I think he’d like that.  I am positively vibrating in anticipation of the new Twin Peaks episodes premiering in May.  I’ve been watching whatever they air on Showtime in preparation for the return to one of my favorite imaginary places.  But then again, isn’t every place in Lynch’s world imaginary?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden craving for cherry pie.

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“A Whole New World”

Posted by purplemary54 on January 29, 2017

Some years ago (at least three, but probably more) the Disney behemoth began advertising its Hawaiian resort Aulani with this utterly enchanting version of “A Whole New World” from Aladdin.  Even in the little bit they played in the commercial, I was in love with it.

I’ll be the first one to admit I don’t know much about Yuna, the singer who created this song (anyone who does can click here).  But she gives me the general impression of being quite charming.  I also believe she is a Muslim, which means she is persona non grata in Trump’s worldview; all Muslims are terrorists to him.  Even the one’s who sing songs as wholesomely American as Disney songs.  Of course, this particular Disney movie is now suspect in Trump’s vision of the world.  It is, after all, set in an Arab country and features brown people as characters.

I didn’t mean to make this one political at all.  The song is just an innocent romp meant to further the Disney-fied romance between Aladdin and Princess Jasmine.  And this cover is, as I stated earlier, utterly enchanting.  I just wanted to share it with you.  And to remind you that not all Muslims are out to get Westerners.  Some of them just want to create music.

 

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Mary Tyler Moore

Posted by purplemary54 on January 25, 2017

Not that long ago, I posted the theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show as interpreted by Minneapolis Punk band Husker Du.  Now I’m posting it because Mary Tyler Moore has left this plane of existence.  (I hate saying “died.”  Yes, her physical body has died, but her spirit and energy will always be a part of the Universe.)

I like this clip because it includes just a bit from the final episode.  You can here the rest of the WJM gang singing “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” as Mary takes one last loving look at the newsroom before turning out the lights and closing the door.  It was a great good-bye then, and it’s a great one now.  So long, Mary.  I’ll be sure to laugh as hard for you as your TV namesake did for Chuckles the Clown.  (And please, jukebox listeners, for your own sakes track down the episode “Chuckles Bites the Dust” if you haven’t seen it.  You will never be sorry.)

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A Peek Inside My Brain

Posted by purplemary54 on October 5, 2016

I sometimes feel as though my entire brain is an iPod on shuffle.  Random songs pop into my head at odd times.  It’s been like this for years, even before I got an iPod, although it has been a bit more. . . pronounced, shall we say, since I bought that first one many years ago.

There’s two perennial staples on my mental playlist, songs that generally come up when I’m doing some kind of mundane task.  The first is what I call my Filing Song.

While I enjoy Frank Sinatra, this particular song has never actually been a favorite.  But when I spend more than five minutes filing (like I used to have to do at the community college I used to work at), “Strangers in the Night” just appears like the proverbial bad penny.  I don’t sing the lyrics; I don’t even know most of the lyrics.  I just hum, and occasionally “do be do be do” to the tune.  It’s a satisfying enough way to occupy my brain, although I’d prefer to alphabetize to “All of Me.” (If I’ve been filing too long, I get a little lost in the middle, and have to sing the ABC song to remind myself if K comes before or after M, but that’s a different story altogether.)

The other song that randomly, and rather aggressively, injects itself into my consciousness is a Disney classic.

I don’t think I’ve seen this version of the Three Little Pigs since I was in single digits, but “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” has been on rotation ever since.  Just as I mysteriously associate “Strangers in the Night” with filing, this song is mostly a kitchen tune.  Cooking brings it to the forefront of my brain and I find myself singing the chorus (the only words I remember) over and over in a high-pitched, kiddie-style voice.  Why?  How the hell should I know?

What these two songs seem to best illustrate to me is that some melodies are so ubiquitous either to the culture or our personal experience that they become woven into the fabric of our lives.  Also, that I have virtually zero control over what pops into my head for which reason.  The human brain is a weird and wonderful place, but I wouldn’t want to get lost in mine.

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Gene Wilder

Posted by purplemary54 on August 29, 2016

I step away from music for a moment to remember Gene Wilder.  He was one of those actors I’ve always loved because he was a presence in my childhood.  Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles (my favorite) were staples in my family from the moment they were released.  I didn’t see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory until I was an adult.  (And the fact that the adult comedies were staples of my childhood while I had to seek out the kids’ movie as a grown-up should tell you a great deal about why I’m such a twisted little weirdo.  Although that is one twisted kids’ movie.)  Wilder was also a favorite of mine for his devotion to his wife, the brilliant Gilda Radner, during her illness and ultimate death from cancer.  He was a very funny and very good man.

News of his death today from complications of Alzheimer’s makes me terribly sad for all of us on this plane of existence.  But for everyone he loved who have already transitioned to the other plane–people like Gilda and frequent co-star Richard Pryor–there is much rejoicing.  Now they can all be brilliantly funny together again.

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Marni Nixon

Posted by purplemary54 on July 25, 2016

You’ve heard Marni Nixon’s voice hundreds of times, even if you’ve never seen her face.  West Side Story.  My Fair Lady.  And one of the few musicals I enjoy, The King and I.  These and many other movie musical performances were the incomparably versatile Marni Nixon.  She was probably the most famous ghost singer in film history.  The studios would call her in when they didn’t feel the leading actress had a strong enough singing voice for the role.  Actresses like Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn were immensely talented (and highly photogenic), but not great singers.  They weren’t bad, but they weren’t as good as Marni.

Here’s one of my favorite musical clips ever, with Marni Nixon singing for Deborah Kerr.  “Shall We Dance” also happens to be one of the sexiest scenes in movie history, so feel free to enjoy the afterglow.  RIP, Marni.

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Garry Marshall

Posted by purplemary54 on July 20, 2016

My first crush was Fonzie on Happy Days.  I was five, and he was the coolest.  It was one of my favorite shows, right up until it was cancelled in 1984, long after it had literally jumped the shark.  (For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, Happy Days introduced the phrase “jump the shark” for a TV show that had kind of outlived itself when they had an episode where Fonzie waterskiied over a shark tank.  I think that was one of the episodes set in Hollywood.)

My child’s heart, and my adult heart for that matter, mourns the death of Happy Days creator Garry Marshall.  His vision of the world may have been hopelessly anachronistic and unrealistic.  (No, millionaires do not fall in love with and marry the hookers they solicit.)  But it was a sweet, good-hearted vision.  He liked to portray the fairy tale happy ending.  While my version of the fairy tale might be a little different, I think the world needs a few more happy endings.  Thanks for all the happy days, Garry.

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Repost: It’s Official. I am Really Only Five Years Old

Posted by purplemary54 on July 4, 2016

Thanks to Final Jeopardy tonight, I now have a certain theme park’s certain ride’s song stuck in my head.  Thanks to this repost from the early days of the Jukebox, y’all can suffer along with me.  Consider Super Chicken an extra gift.  You’re welcome.

Although I got the initial inspiration for today’s post from Dan and Val, really, you all have no one to blame but me. I take full responsibility for inflicting this on my poor, innocent readers. I’m sorry.

Except for the part where I’m really, really not.

I am well aware that I am one of, maybe, five people on the planet who actually like this song. But “It’s A Small World” will always be a sweet and special experience for me. As a little girl, I was enchanted by the dazzling array of cute, chubby-faced dolls dancing in native costumes from around the world, singing about how “It’s the world that we share, and it’s time we’re aware, it’s a small world after all.” As a not-so-little girl, I am still enchanted, in spite of the fact that the whole thing is kind of cheesy, and my awareness that the world is not such a happy, dancing and singing kind of place. Maybe I still love this ride because of those things. Because even if the world is kind of screwed up, it’s nice to be able to disappear into a magical place where people really do get along and live in peace. It’s nice to believe that this kind of world is still possible.

(Yeah, it’s that same song, over and over, for 10 plus minutes, but this is how I’ve always experienced it. With some updates after the ride was renovated.)

This next clip is a reminder of when I used to watch cartoons instead of football on Sundays. It’s also an example of the surreal and stupid genius of Jay Ward (you know, the guy who blessed us with Rocky and Bullwinkle?). There is no other reason for it. It does, however, feature one of my favorite cartoon songs ever.

There’s a lot of Super Chicken cartoons available at YouTube. I’ll bet there’s some George of the Jungle and Tom Slick, too. These were a big part of my formative years.

There. I’m not sorry for still loving any of this. (But you might be. Feel free to not watch the Small World clip at all. I totally understand people’s aversion to this song.) And consider yourselves fortunate that I didn’t decide to post any Schoolhouse Rocks shorts.

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Hamilton!

Posted by purplemary54 on June 13, 2016

If you know me, you know I am not a fan of musicals, outside of a select few.  But maybe the genre is catching up with me a bit, because I plan on seeing Hamilton when it hits LA.  It might not have this cast, but I’m sure they’ll cast good people for the touring company.  It’s scheduled to hit here in August 2017.

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