Posts Tagged ‘The Breakfast Club’

Loyal reader Accused of Lurking is an expert in the music of the 1970s, so naturally he had a few things to say at the conclusion of ’70s Week here at Run-DMSteve.

Here are the links to ’70s Week:

Some of my favorite songs of the decade

And here’s what’s on Lurk’s mind:

“Over the course of one week, you managed to disrespect The Cars, John Sayles, and Heart. I don’t mind very much about Heart, but you will pay for your unkindness to the other two.

“I realize that it is impossible for two people to agree on the Top 25 of anything, unless those two have exactly the same sensibility and exactly the same set of experiences. Maybe twins could do it, but certainly not the two of us.

“As I read through your list, I bounced violently back and forth between ‘Of course!’ and ‘What the f$#k?!?’ With artists that I am particularly fond of and familiar with (Springsteen, Costello, Zeppelin, Guess Who), I disagree with your choices, but would enjoy the conversation about why you chose them. With artists whose oeuvre is less familiar to me (Bowie, Clash, Harrison), I don’t even know the songs. When I then listen to the songs, I wonder how they could have been chosen over songs by these artists that got more airplay.

“The upshot is that I am now trying to compose my own list (which will certainly include The Cars and a whole bunch more women than you). As I re-read your list, I am left with the strong feeling that Run-DMSteve is even more complex than the already complex individual I know, with musical proclivities that may not be mainstream, may not be FDA-certified, and may not be Oxford-comma-worthy, but are certainly proclaimed loudly, with verve, and in almost complete sentences.”

That’s great, Lurk. Now let’s look at the facts.

John Sayles
I’ve never written a word about John Sayles. Until now. David Denby once wrote that John Sayles “doesn’t trust the camera.” I don’t know what that means. I do know that Sayles’ movies don’t look like anyone else’s movies. When I watch one I always feel that I’m sitting farther back in the theater than I actually am.

I enjoyed The Brother From Another Planet and Lone Star. I used to believe that The Big Chill was a cynical rip-off of The Return of the Secaucus 7, but after re-watching both I decided that it didn’t matter because The Big Chill is the superior film. Though if I’m going to watch a movie about a group of like-minded people brought together under stress, I’d rather see The Breakfast Club or Aliens.

Score: Run-DMSteve 1, Accused of Lurking 0. W00t!

The Cars
I saw Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr at a club in Harvard Square in the late ’70s. They were a folk act and they knew how to work the room. The one bon mot I remember came when someone in the crowd asked if they had a record deal. “Almost,” one of them replied. “Arista wants to hear our disco stuff.” I wish they had ventured into disco, but they didn’t and it’s still not feasible to travel back in time and shoot their grandfathers.

I confess that I enjoy two of their songs, “Since You’re Gone” and “A Dream Away,” both from Shake It Up. I would also like to state that, as much as I dislike this band, The Cars at their peak could have disintegrated Hall & Oates with a look. Lastly, Benjamin Orr died recently. He was a huge part of the Boston renaissance in pop music. So I’ll judge this one a tie.

Score: Run-DMSteve 1.5, Accused of Lurking 0.5

Bruce Springsteen
I was kidding when I said that “Backstreets” was one of the few times that Springsteen surpassed “Wild Billy’s Circus Story.” I love The Boss, particularly Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Nebraska, and about half each of The River and Born in the USA.

I’ve also come to hear The Rising (2002) for what it is: Springsteen’s great achievement of his late career. Magic (2007) pales next to this. There are 15 songs on this disc and I only like seven, but those seven are solid. “Worlds Apart” and “The Fuse” are particular standouts; they’re very different for him, and really haunt me. The Rising isn’t going to make anyone forget Born in the USA, but as uneven as it is I like it better than anything since that album. It packs a punch, even though some of these cuts pull their punch. Actually, the album reminds me of The River, which was a mess but still had “Independence Day,” “Point Blank,” “Cadillac Ranch,” etc. The Rising is a much more focused mess.

I’ve misled my readers. All three of them.

Score: Run-DMSteve 1.5, Accused of Lurking 1.5. Looks like we got a real pressure cooker going here.

“A whole bunch more women than you”
Accused of Lurking promises us a ’70s All-Star list that redresses the female imbalance that was so apparent in my list. I can’t contest this one at all.

Score: Run-DMSteve 1.5, Accused of Lurking 2.5. Pain train’s comin’, baby!

“May not be Oxford-comma-worthy”
Accused of Lurking, you are witty, incisive, and perceptive. You are fair, principled, and one might even say funky. But on this point you are mistaken, or misled, or possibly deluded. I’ve always believed in what is called the Oxford comma, or the serial comma, or in some quarters the Harvard comma. If in reading this blog you’ve discovered a list of terms, items, or proper nouns that are missing a comma, please bring this lapse to my attention. I’ll fix it tonight, tomorrow, or certainly by the weekend.

Final score: Run-DMSteve 2.5, Accused of Lurking 2.5. Thank you for playing, Accused of Lurking. Too bad you didn’t win a lifetime suppy of Rice-A-Roni or even a lousy copy of our home game.

As for incomplete sentences. What?

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)”
Simple Minds

Today I want to have a word with you about guilty pleasures, which, for the purpose of this disquisition, we shall define as enjoying things that you might be too embarrassed to enjoy if anyone found out you were enjoying them. I’m thinking here, just to get the ball rolling, of people who go roller skating because they like the way “You Made Me Love You” sounds on the Wurlitzer. Then there are the folks who eat Pop-Tarts without toasting them first. As for me, I listen to Simple Minds.

On page 160 of my copy of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, the dysfunctional wolverines who work at Championship Vinyl have compiled a list of the top five bands they want to put in front of a firing squad. Simple Minds leads their list, ahead of even Genesis, which seems harsh to me. Genesis spawned Phil Collins. Can you name even one simpleton in Simple Minds? How about the chap who was married to Chryssie Hynde? Of course you can’t. And if you can you probably work at Championship Vinyl.

Sanctify Yourself
Simple Minds supposedly took their name from David Bowie’s “Jean Genie.” The relevant line in that song, “He’s so simple-minded he can’t drive his capsule,” is meaningless out of context and is uninspiring even if you know what Bowie was talking about, which I don’t. Simple Minds was part of the 1970s-’80s movement loosely known as New Wave, which tried to mesh art and post-punk. In fact Simple Minds started out in life as a punk outfit called Johnny & The Self-Abusers, which immediately leads me to inquire why they thought they needed a new name.

Like many New Wave bands, most of Simple Minds’ songs are hopelessly airy and artsy. This is probably why I like them. I even like the singer, Jim Kerr (Ms. Hynde’s former husband), who is Scottish but who always sounds vaguely German.

Life in a Day
Objectively, I would have to rank Simple Minds far below expert practitioners of the New Wave form, such as Echo & The Bunnymen and The Psychedelic Furs, but way above Spandau Ballet, Human League, and Haircut 100, three bands that together couldn’t make a snake out of Play-Doh. This leaves Simple Minds with the same artistic command of their material as A Flock of Haircuts, who were best known for their haircuts.

But that’s my objectivity speaking. Every time I play one of my favorite Simple Minds cuts, I melt into a puddle. Like The Tubes, I can’t clean up/but I know I should.

Promised You a Miracle
In 1985, when Simple Minds were making a good living in the UK but were still unknown in the US, the band was hired to perform a song for an upcoming film: The Breakfast Club. The boys were handed the words and music to something called “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” did some rearranging, and recorded a 4-minute and a 6-minute version, both on the same afternoon.

I’ll bet Simple Minds didn’t think about this song again until the movie came out and “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” went to #1 on the US charts and became an anthem. Suddenly, Simple Minds were famous in the world’s biggest music market for a song they didn’t write. They didn’t even include it on an album until 1992.

I understand why it took them seven years to finally claim this song. Have you ever read the lyrics?

Tell me your troubles and doubts
Giving me everything inside and out and
Love’s strange so real in the dark
Think of the tender things that we were working on

That’s quite enough. And if you own the original 45, I suggest you not play the B side, “A Brass Band in Africa.” Simple Minds wrote this one, but listening to it is like eating a Pop-Tart before it’s toasted or even unwrapped.

Up on the Catwalk
Though the words to “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” are, well, awful (and the 6-minute version has even more of them), and though the thing is too slow to dance to, the music wields a crowd-pleasing power. Like all immortal songs, it begins with a musical flourish you instantly recognize and lyrics anyone can handle:

Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!

The song’s helium-filled synthesizer musings are ballasted by a steady beat and a chorus that would break the heart of any teenager or immature adult:

Don’t you, forget about me
Don’t don’t don’t don’t
Don’t you, forget about me

And then comes the moment of genius, when Simple Minds rose above themselves and created matter out of energy with their bare hands. At 3:13 most of the music falls away, leaving only the synth, which is playing somewhere in low Earth orbit, the muted drums, and Jim Kerr muttering on behalf of the lovelorn:

Will you walk away?
Will you walk on by?
Come on – call my name
Will you call my name?

For 30 seconds we’re suspended in time and space, anticipating that delicious moment when the triumphant drum roll crashes in. After that it’s a walk in the park. Anyone can sing along, because from here to the finish line it’s just La. La la la la. La la la la. La la la LA la la la la la etc. Audience participation; that’s the ticket!

I’ve run out of Simple Minds song titles
But I’ll never run out of opinions. I’m declaring “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” as the iconic song of the 1980s, the one song that can represent the entire decade. I think the only serious competition comes from Special D’s pick, Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and I have to admit this would’ve been an even closer race if Ms. Lauper had been backed by a genre-defining movie.

Will we ever see the likes of Simple Minds again? Unfortunately, yes. They’re still recording. They’ve even inspired a band to carry on their work, and that band is called Coldplay. We’ll talk about them the next time we tackle guilty pleasures.

Wouldn’t you love to hear “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” on a Wurlizter?