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Wings Tag

Horror movies derive most of their power and enjoyment (you sicko) from a combination of novelty and surprise.The novelty: how the filmmakers will have this particular bad guy stalk and kill the good guys. The surprise: OHMYGODLOOKOUTBEHINDYOUDREWBARRYMORE! Nevertheless, because horror movies are eternally popular, Hollywood remakes

Denny Laine — Fab, one time removed? — will forever be the other guy in Wings, the Paul McCartney-led 1970s successor band to the Beatles.

Even if that belies Laine’s important earlier contributions to the Moody Blues (“Go Now,” a Wings concert staple), his occasional takeout moment with Paul’s band (in particular on 1978’s London Town), a batch of interesting songs that never made those Wings projects, and his own (admittedly sporadic) solo efforts.

Well, here we are once again in the midst of my favorite season of the year: awards season, that glorious period at the start of a calendar year when almost every entertainment awards ceremony is held.

My favorite awards are those dealing with film (the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild awards, the BAFTAs, the Independent Spirit Awards) as well as those that don’t have live telecasts (the Directors Guild, Producers Guild and Screenwriters Guild awards). Per usual, I’m doing my damndest to see as many films nominated for all of these awards and I’m doing pretty well, considering I was housebound for five weeks during the peak period when most of the nominees were released in theaters — the holiday season.

Last year, in honor of my favorite time of year, I decided to do a series of special Soundtrack Saturday posts dedicated to the sometimes baffling, almost always entertaining Best Original Song category. I had a lot of fun writing those posts and I think you, my loyal readers, enjoyed them, too, so I’ve decided to bring the series back in 2011.

As a reminder, this category, technically called “Best Music, Original Song,” was introduced at the seventh annual Academy Awards in 1935 and is presented to the writer(s) of a song specifically written for a film. Unless the song’s performer(s) contributed to the music, lyrics, or both, he/she/they don’t receive an Oscar if the song wins. Nominees are determined by members of the Academy who are songwriters and composers, with the winner chosen by the entire Academy membership.

Unlike last year, I’ve chosen to discuss one year each from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. I think the four years I’ve decided to cover are four strong and very interesting years for this category and I think you’ll agree. I’m sticking to the same definition of “year” that I went with last year, meaning I’m discussing the year the Oscar telecast aired, not the year in which the films were made.

So, let’s dig right in with our first year, 1974.

I don’t recall the first time I heard Timbuk3’s classic ’80s anthem, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades,” but it was probably during a screening of the classic Robert Sean Leonard undead adolescent romp My Best Friend Is a Vampire.  See, the tune was in the movie because Leonard’s character is a vampire and wears sunglasses.  Totally clever, right? Quentin Tarantino wishes his soundtrack picks were as inspired.

Like “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Every Breath You Take” before it, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” is another excellent track from that era that gets played for all the wrong reasons.  It’s become a graduation anthem of sorts, when in fact Pat MacDonald wrote the song as a peppy take on an impending nuclear holocaust.  Despite its sinister subtext the song was the lone charting single from Timbuk3’s 1986 debut album, Greetings From Timbuk3. It peaked at #19 on the American singles chart and #21 in the U.K.

Timbuk3 (the husband-and-wife duo of Pat and Barbara K. MacDonald) was nominated for Best New Artist at the 1987 Grammy Awards but lost to Bruce Hornsby and the Range.  I know you’re all intrigued as to what the rest of Greetings From Timbuk3 sounds like, as we know NARAS would never nominate an act for such a prestigious award based on the strength of one song.  So let’s get to it!

Soul Serenade

Bessie Banks - Go NowWhen pressed, I have been known to designate the 1964 Moody Blues smash “Go Now” as my favorite single ever. It features the powerful piano playing of Mike Pinder, and for all of you Wings fans, that’s Denny Laine doing the soulful lead vocal.

It wasn’t until years later, some time in the ’80s as I recall, that I learned that the Moody Blues hit was a cover version of a song released by Bessie Banks earlier that same year. “Go Now” was written by Banks’ ex-husband Larry Banks, along with Milton Bennett. It was produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and originally released on their Tiger Records label. It was hardly a chart-topper, just reaching #40 on the Cashbox R&B Singles chart. Still, “Go Now” by Bessie Banks is an undeniable soul classic.

4042141[1]In 1973, I saw myself disappearing. I was a grammar ghost, a sentence-writing cipher with barely a byline to hang my rent on. I knew what I wanted to do – write about music and the people who made it – but I didn’t know how to go about getting there. I decided to send out concert reviews. I couldn’t send an interview because I’d never done one. But I could buy a concert ticket, go see a band, and write about it. That was within my limited financial and professional means.

Magazines did respond; they passed me over. Rolling Stone. Circus. Guitar Player. Creem. Crawdaddy. The memento mori of a career that would never be. Death head rejection letters. I was turned down by the best. There actually came a point when receiving personalized rejection notices made me feel like I was getting closer. After all, someone had to read the story in order to comment on how shitty it was. Did it matter that the work really was wonky? That I was sending live reports to publications that didn’t run that type of article? That I hand-wrote the stories because the letters a and y on my ancient Underwood manual didn’t work? The y wasn’t a problem. But you try and conjure words that don’t contain a certain letter – a vowel nonetheless – and all you can think of are words that do contain the vowel. Anonymity, shine your dim light down upon your stupidest son. I was fading like Levi’s.

Youthful exuberance and blissful ignorance is a heady potable but it will only take you so far. I needed to go farther. Change. A road trip. At that moment, changing who I was on any percipient level seemed about as likely as being published. But I could change where I was and the summer after high school, I embarked upon the wandering nomad-does-Europe incursion. I stuffed a backpack with a pair of jeans – my best faded Levi’s – a couple shirts, my best tale-telling writing pen and Kerouac’s On the Road (what else would you take?) and spent three months in Europe trying to find and lose myself.

Our new(ish) weekly feature on Popdose rolls on, as John C. Hughes and the world's foremost Belinda Carlisle impersonator, a.k.a. his buddy Matty (or "Bearlinda," if you prefer), knock back even more drinks and review some singles, homo style. This week your rainbeaux

Some people are just flat-out smart-asses.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be at times, mind you, but a good smart-ass pulls it off with a modicum of grace and might give you a chuckle for it. In the music world, there are relatively few of the latter. Instead of a wink and a nod, they just about knock you unconscious and then ask if “you saw that.” You can tell one from the other by their choices in the realm of cover songs.

BooneA word of note to anyone who is not a music nerd accidentally finding themselves at this site: a cover song is when an artist records another artist’s song, hence covering it. The term ‘remake’ fits as well. The term ‘smart-ass’, at least relative to this article, refers to those who decide to go all hipster and record something that bears no relevance, charm or wit toward their own sensibility. I’m thinking of Madonna’s cover of “American Pie” or that godawful A Perfect Circle CD where the songs weren’t just reworked, they were worked over, until all that was left was roadkill disguised as tribute. Then there’s the Bluegrass Tribute to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. More notoriously, I’m thinking of the late-’50s pop songs from black artists covered by teen idol white artists because, you know, if it comes from a white guy in a sweater, the subtext can’t be about sex. Right? Pat Boone? Tutti Frutti?