Stay Up Late

The night was like an alien world as a kid. And, staying up late was one of the first conquests of childhood.

I have no doubt that the first time I reached midnight was probably watching television with my father. It was, more than likely, something on the CBS Late Movie in the early ’70s. The show’s nightly fare often consisted of sci-fi or suspense stuff – one of the more terrifying being a flick called Gargoyles, set in a remote stretch of highway in the Southwest.

(I’d be curious how it has held up after thirtysome years, but it seems to be available nowhere)

There was something comfortable about hearing the familiar intro music and seeing the opening graphics, then, the announcer dramatically announcing, “Tonight, on the CBS Late Movie…” A short trailer would follow which would either heighten the anticipation or puncture it.

Of course, with only half a dozen channels from which to choose and all but one or two concluding the broadcast day with a somber sign-off sometime around one in the morning, you either muddled through or went to bed.

(or, you fell asleep on the couch under a pile of blankets while attempting to muddle through)

There was something wonderful about the solitude and peace at that time of the night. I’d peer out the window behind me and there was little but inky blackness and, perhaps a light or two from one of the few neighboring homes in our rural area.

As everyone else in the house was usually asleep, I owned the world.

(not bad for some kid that wasn’t old enough to drive)

There was nothing left to accomplish aside from raiding the fridge during the next commercial break.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – B Movie
from Get Happy!

Elvis Costello is one of those artists for whom I feel a sense of failure that I have never embraced as much as I feel I should. The critics love him. Friends from almost every period of my life, whose taste I respect, love him. Paloma loves him.

I’ve always been a bit more ambivilant. And, despite that ambivilance, I realize that I own a large chunk of his catalog.

Maybe I need to make more of an effort to meet Elvis halfway.

Pulp – TV Movie
from This Is Hardcore

I owned a trio of Pulp’s records from the mid-’90s when they reached their highest profile in their native UK. Here in the States, the group garnered little attention (which is too bad).

Jarvis Cocker always reminded me of a latter day Ray Davies. This is Hardcore was a darker, more somber affair than the band’s previous Different Class. TV Movie, lamenting a failed relationship, is somber, but it is also lovely and moving.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – TV Movie
from Tracks

Of all the artists whose heyday has overlapped with my years as a music fan, few amassed as much unreleased music as Bruce Springsteen (Prince would be in that conversation, too). Some of that music popped up as b-sides or as hits for other acts (Pink Cadillac fell into both categories).

Springsteen finally raided the archives on the box set Tracks. TV Movie was an outtake from Born In The USA and though that set isn’t lacking by its exclusion, the song is a fun, self-effacing romp.

Elton John – I’ve Seen That Movie Too
from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

In retrospect, Elton John produced a staggering amount of amazing music in the ’70s and his classic album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road has a little bit of everything that made him a superstar for the ages.

It’s not difficult to picture Elton playing the resigned I’ve Seen That Movie Too in some piano bar at an hour when the crowd has dwindled and I would have been crashed out on the couch during yet another showing of Night Of The Lepus on the CBS Late Movie.

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5 Responses to Stay Up Late

  1. Perplexio says:

    There was an Aussie song, Horror Movie by the Skyhooks that would bookend your selections nicely.

  2. […] Sir Elton seen the early ’70s horror flick Frogs! on the CBS Late Movie, he very well might be. It certainly spooked me a bit when I was a […]

  3. […] I’d first check to see if there was anything worthwhile on the CBS Late Movie, there were many nights I’d end up watching at least some of The Tonight […]

  4. […] Some nights I’d watch Johnny Carson and, on other nights, I’d check out the CBS Late Movie. […]

  5. […] I’m not sure how I spent that morning. I’d probably slept in after staying up until the middle of the night watching the CBS Late Movie. […]

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