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"We were practically face-amish."

Part 9 in a 6,837 Part Series of Family Guy Musical References

2.24.2009


Season: 3

Episode: 9

Episode Title: Mr. Saturday Knight

Reference: The Griffins have Mr. Weed over for dinner, and the children go to bed singing "So Long, Farewell" from The Sound of Music (1965). Here's a tiny clip of the end with Chris singing "Goodbye" (I'm impressed, Seth Green!):



Oscars 2009: The Musical is Back

2.23.2009

Maybe if you started starring in some, Hugh, it would help bring them back. Do your part.

Because this is (part of) what I live for, here's my best attempt at a second to second recognition of the musicals referenced in this clip:



0:41 - 1:14 from Top Hat (1935), "Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails"

1:15 - 1:17 from Singin' in the Rain (1952), "Singin' in the Rain"

1:19 - 1:23 from Sweet Charity (1969), "Big Spender"

1:24 - 1:26 from West Side Story (1961), "Maria"

1:27 - 1:30 from West Side Story (1961), "Mambo" or "Gym Mambo"

1:31 - 1:55 from Top Hat (1935), "Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails" (see above for link)

2:06 - 2:40 from Grease (1978), "You're the One That I Want"

2:41 - 2:43 from The Sound of Music (1965), "Maria"

2:43 - 2:58 from Chicago (2002), "All That Jazz"

2:58 - 3:19 from Moulin Rouge! (2001), "Lady Marmalade"

3:20 - 3:31 from Dreamgirls (2006), "One Night Only" (disco version)

3:32 - 3:43 from Hairspray (2007), "You Can't Stop the Beat"
(+)
3:33 - 3:40 from Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), "I Don't Know How to Love Him"

3:50 - 3:59 from Cadillac Records (2008), "At Last"
(+)
3:57 - 4:18 from High School Musical 3 (2008), "Last Chance"
(+)
4:08 - 4:14 from West Side Story (1961), "Maria"

4:20 - 5:02 from Mamma Mia! (2008), "Mamma Mia"
(+)
4:26 - 4:30 from Evita (1996), "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"

5:03 - 5:14 from Top Hat (1935), "Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails"

5:15 - 5:27 from The Wizard of Oz (1939), "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

5:28 - 5:34 from West Side Story (1961), "Somewhere"


To be honest, it was a pretty clunky melody with a only handful of smooth moments. Of course I appreciate the effort and attempt to recognize musical films, and putting together something like that is a huge timing nightmare. I loved it, but I don't think that non-musical lovers did (and rightfully so).

I can read movies

2.20.2009



More here.

This is Spinal Tap...25 years later

2.15.2009

Vanity Fair has an interview with the band, and I love what David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) has been up to:

"I've been managing acts.  I was really excited about the success of some female tribute bands, AC/DShe and Lez Zeppelin.  So I've gone out on the road with some bands: Girl Jam and R.E.Emma.  And we're branching out into the oldies field with Blood, Sweat & Cramps."

A duet featuring Barbra and...

2.11.2009



Barbra. Bacharach's "One Less Bell" with "House is Not A Home." Part that I love best: the last minute and a half.

Our songs will be silenced, but what of it? Go on singing.

2.10.2009

Roger Ebert's latest post is an interesting one for all writers, whether of books or blogs, and artists of all kinds. What lasts? What of us is really left behind when we leave this earth? One of the comments on the post included a link to this clip from Orson Welle's F is For Fake:

When love speaks


If you're gearing up for Valentine's Day here's a very cool album. When Love Speaks is a collection of 53 sonnets either spoken or sung by some recognizable voices:

Joseph Fiennes: "Be Not Afeard, The Isle is Full of Noises (The Tempest, Act III, Scene II)"
Annie Lennox: "Live With Me and Be My Love (From Sonnets To Sundry Notes of Music)"
Alan Rickman: "My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun"
Richard Attenbourogh: "Who Will Believe My Verse In Time to Come"
Juliet Stevenson: "How Oft, When Thou, My Music"
John Hurt: "Those Lips That Love's Own Hand Did Make"
Ralph Fiennes: "Th' Expense of Spirit In A Waste of Shame"
Imelda Staunton: "I Never Saw That You Did Painting Need"
Kenneth Branagh: "When To The Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought"
Rufus Wainwright: "When, In Disgrace With Fortune and Men's Eyes"
Des'ree: "The Quality Of Mercy Is Not Strained (Portia - The Merchant of Venice)"

It's only $9.99 on iTunes.

"I'm old enough to love you from afar. Too trusting, yes; but then women usually are."

2.09.2009

This is another post about Fleetwood Mac.  I just want to give you an official heads up.  Yep, I'm on the psycho-obsessive train again, headed for Why-yes-I-can-name-the-third-best-selling-album-of-all-time-and-what-broke-up-and-then-brought-back-together-(here's-a-hint-it-was-a-president)-the-band-who-wrote-it-ville.  The trip so far has been full of tragic drama over spoiled true love.  So of course I'm eating it up like a bowl of crispy-gooey Fleetwood Mac 'n' Cheese.

So remember what I said in my other post about how I wasn't into Tusk yet?  Please take care to strike that from the record.

Tonight I saw this video from the Tusk documentary for Stevie's song "Angel."  She wanted to write a carefree rock song to try to break out of her serious dark songs, but this one turned out dark to a quicker beat, that's all.  My two favorite parts of the video are between her and Lindsey (surprise!).  The first part of the video is the band working in the studio on the song, and there's a bit where Lindsey sits down at the piano with her.  It really shows how he was so good at arranging her songs and making them the best they could be for her (More on this later.  Get excited!  I know you are!).  It's at 02:30.  Their two voices and a piano...ba-liss.  

The second part is during the stage performance when he comes over to share the mic with her and puts his arm around her and sings in silly bursts (around 06:23)--grabbing her and then stepping away (each time he touches her--I wonder if it brings back pain or joy in the memory.  I'm sick, I know, but she looks positively elated when he does it).  Here's a couple who were together for like, SEVEN YEARS and then broke up and had to still see each other and work together for like, TEN YEARS after they broke up without the chance to really have distance from one another to heal and move on.  I mean, he's up on that stage singing this song with his arm around her.  Maybe the song's ABOUT HIM.  Or worse, about some other guy she'd been with since they broke up!  (I like to imagine they're all about him and no one else.  LET ME HAVE THAT FANTASY, OK?).  How do you do that?  How do you help someone write or arrange or sing a song that's about how you broke their effing heart?*  It's creative madness!  Here's the video:


Here are the lyrics with my favorite parts emboldened:

sometimes the most beautiful things
the most innocent things
and many of those dreams
pass us by, keep passing me by

you feel good
I said it's funny that you understood
I knew you would
when you were good
you were very, very good

I still look up
when you walk in the room
I've got the same wide eyes
they tell the story
I try not to reach out
when you turn around
and you say hello
and we both pretend
there was an end
but there was no ending

so I close my eyes softly
til I become that part of the wind
that we all long for sometime
and to those that I love
like a ghost through a fog
like a charmed hour
and a haunted song
and the angel of my dreams

I still look up
I try hard not to look up
that girl was me
track a ghost through the fog
a charmed hour--a haunted song
track a ghost through the fog, baby

ooh, you try hard
but you'll never catch me--yeah

Next up on my ohmygoshIcan'tbelievehowmuchIadorethissong Tusk run is "Storms."  Holy mother, let's take a break.

Ok, we're back.  Have you heard this song?  Instead of a video for this one I have a link.  So I'm going to post the lyrics, but listen to the song as you read the lyrics or you'll lose the full effect!  It's so melancholy it's ridiculous.  

every night that goes between
I feel a little less
as you slowly go away from me
this is only another test

every night you do not come
your softness fades away
did I ever really care that much?
is there anything left to say?

every hour of fear that I spend
my body tries to cry
living through each empty night
a deadly call inside

I haven't felt this way I feel
since many a year ago
but in those years and the lifetimes past
I did not deal with the road

and I did not deal with you I know
though the love has always been
so I search to find an answer there
so I can truly win

every hour of fear that I spend
my body tries to cry
living through the each empty night
a deadly call inside

so I try to say
goodbye my friend
I'd like to leave you with something warm
but never have I been a blue calm sea
I have always been a storm
always been a storm
ooh always been a storm

we were frail
she said,
"every night he will break your heart"
I should have known from the first
I'd be the broken hearted
but I loved you from the start
save us...
and not all the prayers in the world
could save us

Um, yeah.  My body tries to cry?  Never has she been a blue calm sea but has always been a storm?  Every night he will break your heart?  Not all the prayers in the world could save us?  Now that you mention it, I did want my ribcage to be torn open and for you to crush my heart, Stevie.  Thanks so much.

Last but certainly not least we have "Beautiful Child."  (Apparently if you name your song this you can't lose with me--I adore Rufus Wainwright's very different "Beautiful Child" as well.  I just had a duet epiphany: two of my favorite vocalists, Rufus and Stevie, duetting.  Let's make it so.)  There's speculation about who Stevie is singing this song to, but as I mentioned before, I like to think it's Lindsey.  One, she says "you fell in love when I was only ten," and Lindsey and Stevie met when they were very young, around 16 or 17.  (Ok, now I've got to tell the story.  According to Stevie they were at a party and he was at the host's piano playing "California Dreamin'" and she thought he was so cute that she went up and sang the Michelle Phillips harmony (I'm much more partial to Cass myself, but that is neither here nor there) with him.  They didn't formally meet until weeks later.  Be still my heart already.)  Please listen along with the lyrics:

beautiful child, beautiful child
you are a beautiful child
and I am a fool once more

you fell in love when I was only ten
the years disappeared 
much has gone by since then
I bite my lip, can you send me away
you touch, I have no choice
I have to stay
I had to stay

sleepless child, there is so little time
your eyes say yes
but you don't say yes
well I wish that you were mine
I wish that you were mine

you say it will be harder in the morning
I wait for you to say, 'just go'
your hands held mine so few hours
and I'm not a child anymore

I'm not a child anymore
I'm tall enough to reach the stars
I'm old enough to love you from afar
Too trusting, yes
but then women usually are

I'm not a child anymore
no, I'm not a child, oh no
tall enough to reach for the stars
I will do as I'm told
even if I never hold you again 
I never hold you again

I wish that you were mine, I wish that you were mine, 
well, I wish that you were mine


What's that?  Oh, I'm sorry, I must have fallen off my chair and CRAWLED INTO THE FETAL POSITION.  Who else needs another glass of wine?  I know I do.  Your hands held mine for so few hours?  Too trusting, yes; but then women usually are?  I can't get over how amazing this song is sung.  How all of the songs in this post are sung!  Stevie, I'm afraid I'm your musical soulmate.  Yes, I know it's a bit of a letdown; we've had completely opposite life experiences and you've never met me and likely now REALLY don't want to, but let's face facts.  Your music cuts me to the core and I can't seem to get over it (rest assured, faithful reader, that I will).

Well, between these such-a-huge-bummer-it's-a-high songs tonight and my three glasses of wine (don't worry mom, I feel fine!) I'm ready to head to my bed and not wake up for days!  Who's with me?  Goodnight.



*It's come to my attention that maybe Stevie cheated on Lindsey.  I'm not sure I believe it.  To hear her talk about how much she loved him and his genius and only wanted to be near him and was willing to work menial jobs so he could work on his art...I just don't see it.  My theory about "Go Your Own Way" when he talks about the 'shackin' up' is that he wanted to marry her ("If I could, baby I'd give you my world") but she refused ("how can I when you won't take it from me?") and wanted to just keep on shackin' up WITH HIM.  Just a theory.

Songs...to sing whilst they're wearing unitards adorned with clumps of yak fur and their faces painted like Ziggy Stardust if he were a chimney sweep

EXCERPTS FROM

THE COLLECTED

ANSWERING-MACHINE

MESSAGES OF LYRICIST TIM RICE.

BY JULIE KLAUSNER AND RACHEL SHUKERT

- - - -
August 12, 1967
Timothy? Is that vous? Fetch the crayons, Timothy. It's Andy Lloyd Webber. Guess what I have? A ghastly idea for a show. I'll need you to make some sketches. Crayons, Timothy! Now: Joseph. Not Stalin! The Jew, from the Bible. Yes, Tim, I read the Bible every day. But this is new! I mean old! Old Testament. Ahem. Do you know what Joseph had that we don't? I'll give you a hint. A waistcoat? No! A dreamcoat! A coat made of dreams. It was red and yellow and green and brown and purple and gold and ochre and green and blond and black and poop and pee and cinnamon red and red and red and dragons and bugs and teeth and teal and lemon and black and white and mauve ... Where was I? Oh, yes. Dictation, Timothus! We need to discuss the Joseph Stalin musical set in Jewish times with Jews, remember? Get out your grease pencil. There will be a narrator. The narrator will be played by a sprightly he/she in harem trousers and a fez. She—or is it "shim"?—will look exactly like Markie Post. Who is Markie Post? I don't know, Tim! I don't know! But the name came to me in a dream. Do you know what this means, Timaphus? I'm a prophet! A prophet! A—
(Speech is drowned out by the sound of rushing water. A bloodcurdling scream, then silence. Beep.)


June 16, 1969
(Prolonged coughing fit. Spitting.)
Tim? It's Andy. Good news, old chum! Guess where I am and guess what I'm reading! The desert! And the Bible! You see, I've been eating peyote, Tim-Tim, and I have a terrible idea. Are you ready? Write this down. Write my vision down! Jesus, Tim. Have you heard of him? Oh, you have? Fine, fine. But have you ever noticed that he and Jim Morrison are the same bloody chap, Tim? Tim! Think trousers, Tim! Tight, tight unguent trousers. "Unguent" not the right word, you say? Well, you're the bloody lyricist—act like it! Mary Magdalene needs a headband and a song about ointment. Or unguent, if you like. The tune should go like this: "Dah ... dah dah dah dah ... daahhh dahhh!" Get out your typewriter. This is a real parable, mate. Jesus was betrayed—tragically betrayed!—by Ben Vereen. And now, thanks to the me-people, the you-people will finally know the truth!
(Howls like a coyote. Beep.)


November 14, 1979
(Muffled groaning, grunting, huffing, then the sound of liquid "release." Throat clearing.)
Timmmmm. Guess who? Wrong! It's Andy. So. I've an idea. It's awful. Pencils ready? Ready? Ready them, damn you!
(Long pause. Then, in a whisper.)
Cats, Tim. Felines. All sorts. Mewing about in a junkyard. Describing one another. Flitting about acrobatically. Cleaning their fur with their pink tongues. I want actual cats onstage singing songs about what kinds of cats they are! Understood? And if that's not possible, Tim, I want you to write songs for human beings to sing whilst they're wearing unitards adorned with clumps of yak fur and their faces are painted like Ziggy Stardust if he were a chimney sweep. Now. This show won't make a dime and it won't run for more than one night, but I want it to be exorbitantly expensive. Really obscene. You see, I've read a book, Tim. Written by one Eliot, T.S. It's called The Waste Land. But, as I read it, all I could think about was cats. Cats!
(Amid a background noise that sounds like hand-licking.)
Rum Tum Tugger. Mr. Mistoffelees, the magical cat! Skimbleshanks, the railway cat! He hops from one train car to the next, with a spindle and a bean can, the tramp! Name the ingénue after the queen! Cast a belter. The overture should go like this: "Dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dahhhh." Good? Great. Go!
(Grunting noise. Sound of dry "release." Beep.)


January 10, 1985
Tim, are you there? Pick up, it's Andy. Oh, bollocks—I really can't be bothered if you aren't even going to answer when I make the time to bloody ring you. Listen, I know that technically you're dead to me, but just for old times' sake I wanted to let you in on what I'm certain will be the most successful show that any human being has ever conceived—though, actually, I'm not really a human being: I'm made out of star stuff and the moon and am also God. So.
(In the background, there's the sound of a gunshot, followed by what sound like the screams of Mandy Patinkin.)
I hope you're in a safe crouch, Tim. We both know how you love to crouch. Ha.
I'm thinking about trains, Tim. But the trains have names. And they are symbolized by people, who are really actors, on roller skates. I'd like the actors to be nude, and if they are not I'll be forced to have you killed.
Do you know what happened to me last night? I had a vision of a masked genius. An angel. Of music, Tim. And he lives all alone in a cellar, with only an organ and a private steaming lake for company, and so he has to symbolically rape an innocent young ballet dancer in order to feed his muse. It's a beautiful love story. In fact, I think it will be the most beautiful love story about symbolic rape ever told, apart from that film with Cher and the deformed boy. And it will run for a thousand years. Oh, by the way, Princess Diana is going to die. She's marked for death and only you can stop it.
(Snorting. In the background, Soft Cell's This Last Night in Sodom LP is becoming louder and louder.)
And do call me back about the singing trains. Ta.
(Beep.)

I've got to get this out of my system.

2.06.2009

To the blog! Let's write this out.



This song makes me want to hit a punching bag. So much so that I've looked online for how much it costs to install a heavy punching bag. I sit in my car with the song up loud and have to clap my hands at stop lights (it might also be that my hands are cold...). It makes me want to punch something! It's driving me crazy and soon I'll look back on this post and feel disconnected because it's just a song and I'll have moved on. But for this moment it's under my skin and I've got to write about it.  If you're not a Fleetwood Mac fan, this might not be for you.  God knows this will probably make you less interested in them!

"The Chain" is the only song with writing credited to all five members of the Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac (Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckinham, Christine McVie, John McVie and Stevie Nicks). It's a splicing of different musical components, almost all written independently of each other. The bass line (above) was composed by John McVie who had originally intended it for another song. But he recorded it for one of Christine McVie's songs which they were working on in the studio, entitled "Butter Cookie (Keep Me There)" (nmm, butter cookies). Along with it was Mick's percussion, most significantly the thumping bass drum. But the beginning of the song wasn't coming together well, so they took the fantastic ending and counted backwards with the beat.

Stevie came in the next day with lyrics which were about--you guessed it!--her and Lindsey breaking up. But it took on a larger context for the whole band. John and Christine were also  breaking up, Mick was breaking up with his non-band member wife, and the whole group felt extreme tension as they worked on Rumours. And as we can see in "The Chain" and elsewhere, they laid it all down on the tracks, letting us see their personal pain through their art. The song represents the best of the band's work together, and it's meaning is shown all over their history of adding and losing members to solo projects and wounded feelings, only to reunite in the late nineties and renew their vow to "never break the chain."

The song itself has an angry, bitter taste to it. It starts out with a moment of breathy pause which I like to think exemplifies the heaviness that must have filled the room with each take.  It truly begins with the plucking of Lindsey's tinny acoustic guitar matched by an electric (which is the chosen instrument when the song is done live), teasing lightly around the immediately incessant pounding of Mick's foot on the pedal. It's like you can't see what's coming, but you know it's going to get rough from here on out. 

To prove your instincts true, the music stops abruptly. A beat later it begins again and then comes the harmony of Christine, Stevie, and Lindsey: "Listen to the wind blow, watch the sun rise/Run in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies."For five more beats the pattern continues, but then it stops again with the wave of a tambourine and BAM: Lindsey addresses the beat head on like an elephant in the room--it's no longer an ominous presence in the background of a ghostly chorus, now it's the song itself as John's bass comes in to replace the acoustic:"And if you don't love me now, you will never love me again." (I freaking love Lindsey's singing in this song.)

Stevie and Christine join the second half of the verse: "I can still hear you saying you will never break the chain" (which I think is interesting.  By having just Lindsey start he gets the angsty spotlight, but the girls won't let him think he's the only one feeling it as they get to jump right in with him) and then echo it.  By this part Mick has layered on cymbals and snare.  The chorus is repeated, only this time with Christine eerily crying "Still hear you saying..." beyond Stevie and Lindsey.  The music dies down again to the guitar and some keyboards--even the drum beat is gone.  It returns as we ease back down to the second verse: "Listen to the wind blow, down comes the night/Run in the shadows, damn your love, damn your lies/Break the silence, damn the dark, damn the light."  The chorus is repeated as before with same intensity.  But by the second go around when the music begins to die down again as before, something's different. 

As the last notes on the guitar are played the drum beat changes to a light but quick beat on the snare and nothing else.  It builds and as it does we hear that divine bass line--a solo all it's own.  John plays it twice and the third time we hear the crescendo of Lindsey's ringing guitar building in tempo with the snare until it breaks out with the full percussion, keyboards, tambourine and it's own rip-roaring noise.  The song has almost completely changed in tone--going from a sour mood only hinted at to full-blown fury.  At this point Lindsey is going crazy and the band keeps up with him.  And the climax with the final lyric is perfect: a frenzied resolution, an unbridled bind.  The image that blazes before me at this point in the song is a storm--and all the members of the band are in the thick of it, holding onto each other's hands in a circle.  They scream at the top of their lungs, "Chain keep us together, chain keep us together, chain keep us together."  

It's only right that this is the band's torch song to each other: 'even though being the people we are, this group shouldn't work, and more often than not it doesn't.  But when together, our band is greater than the sum of its parts.  And no matter what crap we throw at each other or the world throws at us, never break the chain.'

Whew!  Now that I've gone way over the top on this, here are some versions of the song for you to listen to if you are even at all remotely interested anymore.

First, the studio take from Rumours that I just wrote about:


Next up is the 1977 version (the year the album was released) in Japan. Half the fun in watching the live versions is 
Mick Fleetwood's drumming. I'm pretty sure it's a mix of substance abuse and his own genius. Lindsey looks good 
in his afro and an unbuttoned shirt but it's the way he plays that makes you swoon and say 'you cocky sonofabitch, 
you are HOT.' No wonder Stevie had a hard time walking away from him (herself looking like a bohemian nun in 
stripper shoes at this performance).



But this last one is probably my favorite version, from the Tusk tour (an album that's to become beloved to me).  It's only 3 years later, but boy can you tell.  They were all probably pretty coked up here, but they're in top form.  Lindsey's got short hair, a clean face and a suit on, but instead of looking better than he did in '77, he looks worse.  He's pale with dark circles around his eyes and an edgy, angry manner.  Stevie looks passive aggressively pissed--wanting to act beyond it all but clearly steaming.  I love her "Oh-oh"'s at the end of the"never break the chain"'s (I try to do it myself when listening to the studio version and it's sounds nothing like her, obviously). Again, watch Lindsey and Mick's faces during the guitar solo.  Priceless.

Did she make you cry, make you break down and shatter your illusions of love?

2.04.2009



"She did her first take of 'Gold Dust Woman' in a fully lit studio, and as take followed take, she began withdrawing into herself. So we dimmed the lights, brought her a chair, a supply of tissues, a Vicks inhaler, a box of lozenges for her sore throat, and a bottle of mineral water. And on the eighth take, at four in the morning, she sang the lyric straight through to perfection."

- Mick Fleetwood, Goldmine

"Having a blog feels like growing another limb...There’s my life…and then there’s this thing that’s blossoming alongside reality."

"It's my life, in a way, but not quite."

Jane Fonda is blogging. I'm trying to move past Georgia Rule and focus on 9 to 5 and Barefoot in the Park and her mug shot. (Her autobiography is pretty good, too. She's very into women's rights if you didn't know. When I took Human Sexuality I had to write a paper on my sexual history. My mom wanted to read it, I let her, and she told me: "You should send it to Jane Fonda.")

You probably saw him at the Superbowl



but did you see him at the pre-inauguration concert? As my dad said last night while we ruminated* on the greatness of Bruce, The Rising is one of the best albums he's ever made. I was quietly sad that no one at the Superbowl party I attended seemed to know even a fragment (just "Born in the U.S.A." doesn't count) of this man's canon of music (besides David who was on his way during halftime). Hopefully the crotch-camera collision inspired them...

And be sure to see him sing "This Land is Your Land" with Pete Seeger, where Rolling Stone's editor Will Dana said he "turned the entire nation into a happy, socialist summer camp." He also had a great bit about Obama's love of Stevie Wonder:

"But in embracing the artists who turned out for him, Obama showed he was one of us. "If I had one [musical hero], it would have to be Stevie Wonder," he told us last summer. "When I was just at that point where you start to get involved in music, Stevie had that run with Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Fulfillingness' First Finale, Innervisions, and then Songs in the Key of Life. Those are as brilliant a set of five albums as we've ever seen." For a lot of us, that was all we needed to know about the difference between the last president and this one: Bush claimed he could look into the eyes of a Bond-movie villian like Vladmir Putin and see his soul. Obama connected with Stevie Wonder's."



*We came to the conclusion (after his glass of red and my bottle of pear cider) that even when Bruce is trying to write up-beat, happy-go-lucky songs, the lyrics can never quite escape the darkness of the human condition. Take "Dancing in the Dark," a song that Bruce's manager and produce Jon Landau requested because Born in the U.S.A. needed a pick-me-up. Bruce and Courtney Cox dance it out in the video like two good-looking kids (his rolled-up sleeves...mmm), but his lyrics don't match the mood:

Message keeps getting clearer
radio's on and I'm moving 'round the place

I check my look in the mirror

I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face

Man I ain't getting nowhere
I'm just living in a dump like this

...

Stay on the streets of this town

and they'll be carving you up alright

They say you gotta stay hungry

hey baby I'm just about starving tonight


Or more recently, look at "Waitin' On A Sunny Day" from The Rising. Granted, the album was written in the wake of 9/11, but musically the song is so care-free, urging you to roll down the windows and rock side-to-side with the violin. The lyrics, however, make you want to hold yourself and rock back and forth:

It's rainin' but there ain't a cloud in the sky
Musta been a tear from your eye

Everything'll be okay

Funny thought I felt a sweet summer breeze

Must of been you sighin' so deep

Don't worry we're gonna find a way


You're waitin' on a sunny day because things are terrible right now. "Hungry Heart" (which John Lennon called a "great record") is a another example, this time from The River. The song has such a lighthearted, bouncy 50s feel to it that you think you could play it at a school dance. WRONG. These are just the first two lines:

Got a wife and kids in Baltimore jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back


What? You just left your wife and kids? It gets worse. Second verse:

I met her in a Kingstown bar
We fell in love I knew it had to end

We took what we had and we ripped it apart

Now here I am down in Kingstown again


"We took what we had and we ripped it apart"? Boo-wap-shoo-wa, Boo-wop-shoo-wa! And at the end he says, "ain't nobody like to be alone." Then why'd you LEAVE your wife and kids? Minnie Driver actually covered this song as the slow, heart-breaking ballad that maybe it should be, but that's not the way Bruce plays it (literally and figuratively).

Which is why it's funny that Kate Tucker covered his appropriately lusty and brooding "I'm On Fire" from Born In The U.S.A. with a pop-rock beat and light-as-a-feather singing style. What better accompanies the lyrics "Sometimes its like someone took a knife, baby, edgy and dull and cut a six-inch valley through the middle of my soul" than that?