Welcome back to another edition of Mellow Gold, fellow wussies! (Wusses? Wussies? You get my point.)
This week we’re going to cover two Legends Of Mellow Gold. Artists who damn near made it their life mission to contribute to the category. We have a number of songs to choose from both artists, but today we’ll just cover one of each – both theme songs to movies from the early 1980s. And I want to preface this by admitting outright that Jefito knows both of these artists way better than I do, and could probably do them much more justice. But what is Mellow Gold about, really, if it’s not about coming up just a little bit short?
Okay, okay, I hear you: shut up, Jason. Get to the wimps, already!
Stephen Bishop – It Might Be You (download)
Oh, Bish. You captured my heart with “It Might Be You.” Yes, I know that you didn’t write it, so technically, the Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song doesn’t really belong to you (we’ll give that honor to Dave Grusin, and Alan and Marilyn Bergman), but “It Might Be You” might not have been “It Might Be You” without you.
See, all of our Mellow Gold selections have that one thing in common: they’re all smooth. And Stephen Bishop? His voice is smooth. Nobody’s ever going to ask this guy to try his hand at a cover of “Run To The Hills,” but if you want sensitive, caring, and gentle, Bish is your man.
“It Might Be You” was the theme song to one of my favorite movies, 1982’s Tootsie. (Please, readers, don’t disappoint me by telling me you haven’t seen this flawless comedy.) Dropping a song into just the right place in a movie is truly an art, and the placement of “It Might Be You” was perfect. You couldn’t have a more screwed-up relationship than the one between Dorothy Michaels (Dustin Hoffman) and Julie Nichols (Jessica Lange), but once those opening notes of the song appear, all just seems romantic and perfect. I’m not explaining it very well, I know, because you just have to see the movie to really feel it. I got a lump in my throat and was immediately ashamed.
However, I’m still publicly professing my love for this song. I love the line “I’ve been saving love songs and lullabyes,” especially since it’s followed up by Bish’s falsetto. This one may be too sickly-sweet for you, but I love it enough that I even bought the sheet music.
Have you lost all respect for me? If not, this should seal the deal: Bonus Download!
Stephen Bishop – It Might Be You (remix) (download)
The remix gets off to a great start: a slow guitar and keyboard combo riffing on the main theme. Sounds of the loon. That sort of thing. But at about :40, the remixers suddenly get lazy and essentially just lay the original track down against the drum beat from Enigma’s “Sadeness.” Oh well. I didn’t say the download was essential. I said it was bonus. Anybody want to guess who sent it to me?
Christopher Cross – Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) (download)
Whereas “It Might Be You” was merely nominated for the Academy Award, “Arthur’s Theme” actually won it in 1981, and Cross did have a hand in writing it: the song was co-authored by Cross, Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager (pop quiz: what was her first hit song? We covered it in Chart Attack! a few weeks ago), and Peter Allen, who wrote (with Bayer Sager) the best phrase in the song: “when you get caught between the moon and New York City.”
To that point, the chorus to “Arthur’s Theme” is just phenomenal. The chords, the harmonies (especially as we near the end of the track), and those lyrics – all just perfect. Which leads me to wonder if maybe the songwriting process went like this:
Bacharach: Okay, so we’ve got a killer chorus, we’ve got a strong first verse, but this second verse is really killing me.
Bayer Sager: I can’t think of anything either.
Bacharach: Let’s punt it over to Cross. I’m sure he’ll come up with something.
Cross: Saaaaaiiiiling….takes me awa…..wha?
So maybe it was Cross that tried his hand at the second verse:
Arthur, he does as he pleases
All of his life his master’s toys
And deep in his heart he’s just
He’s just a boy
Living his life one day at a time
He’s showing himself a pretty good time
He’s laughing about the way
They want him to be
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if you have any sense in your minds and justice in your hearts, you will deem it necessary to indict Christopher Cross for Worst Fucking Verse Ever.
“He’s showing himself a pretty good time?” What the hell? Who uses “pretty good” in a verse? I mean, apparently Christopher Cross does, but still, why? We were doing so well with that chorus! Plus, don’t we want people to see this movie, if they haven’t already? I don’t want to watch Dudley Moore having a “pretty good time.” I want to watch him having a “gnarly, bitchin’ time.” Or something to that effect. I realize that actual lyric may have taken them out of the running for the Oscar. I’m just saying.
“He’s laughing about the way they want him to be?” We couldn’t find a better way of conveying Arthur’s happy-go-lucky stance concerning those who want him to conform to the social mores of the upper class? I’m not saying we had to go all high-brow, but certainly Bacharach could have done a rewrite here, yes?
Cross got lucky, though, because after that dismal verse, we have another chorus (thank heavens for the chorus) and a kick-ass sax solo. Then it’s all chorus, chorus, chorus all the way home to Tuscaloosa. (I just made up that phrase.)
“Arthur’s Theme” was supported with a promo video, which unfortunately proved that Christopher Cross truly did have a face for radio.[youtube]CZ_Jz5XuNoc[/youtube]
(That frozen YouTube picture is NOT Christopher Cross.)
Not only does Cross look like he participates in the Completely Random Method Of Shaving Your Face, but also spends half the video in what seems to be an off-green Champion sweatshirt. At this point, he had already won five Grammy Awards; I know he was going for casual, but this is ridiculous.
By the way, also on YouTube, I found a cover of this song as sung by Shirley Bassey. If you want to see unintnentional humor, you have to check this out. I’m still trying to figure out if this is actually Shirley Bassey, or a really good impersonation by Maya Rudolph.
I bought the sheet music to this song at the same time I bought the music to the Bish song. I just wanted to tell you. I’m going to go sink into the corner now.
And that’ll do it for this week in Mellow Gold! I know it’s a bit briefer than usual, but while both of these guys are ugly, neither of them have the kind of hair that’s worthy of Vannelli-style posting. I hope you’ll understand.