Apocalypse Now And Then

May 29, 2011

I stumbled upon Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now the other evening.

To be specific – and with the numerous versions of the film I suppose that’s necessary – it was 2001’s re-release Apocalypse Now Redux. I know that I’ve seen portions of this lengthier version through the years, but I haven’t owned a copy in any version since having one on VHS.

I didn’t see the movie in the theater during its original release. I was eleven or twelve and it wasn’t really of interest to me. Instead, it would be four or five years later before I saw the iconic ’70s film.

It was late on a Friday night that a handful of us ended up hanging out in my buddy Streuss’ house after a night most likely spent driving aimlessly around town. With us sprawled about the family den, Streuss popped the tape of Apocalypse Now into the VCR (which was still quite the novelty).

Of course, Robert Duvall’s Col. Kilgore was a hit and the Do Long Bridge scene was memorably trippy, especially The Roach.

The Roach has about three-minutes of screen time and utters fewer than a dozen words as he cooly dispatches a Viet Cong sniper. Then, after being asked by Martin Sheen’s Capt. Willard if he knows who is in charge at the outpost, The Roach replies with a simple, “Yeah,” before vanishing like a well-armed apparition.

(making his appearance even more awesome, IMDB lists Herb Rice, the actor who portrayed The Roach, as having merely three minor credits)

It wasn’t long after Do Long, after Willard, Chief, Chef, Lance, and Clean reach Cambodian waters but well before Hopper and Brando are found, that I think I dozed off. It wasn’t that the movie wasn’t compelling, but it was late and the movie was long.

(I have no doubt that I had never seen a movie running almost three hours before)

I didn’t make it to the end the other night, either. I have the stamina for a three-hour movie (or in the case of Redux, four plus) but bedtime is even earlier these days.

But, as I do whenever I come across Apocalypse Now, I did hang with the crew of the Erebus until The Roach informed Willard and me who was in charge.

Here are four war songs…

X – Country At War
from Hey Zeus!

I’ve noted before that I have never been able to embrace the music of seminal L.A. punk band as much as I feel I should. That’s likely why I held on on to the promo copy I received of the band’s ’93 reunion/swan song Hey Zeus!

But Country At War is a cool rock song juxtaposing the banalities of life on the homefront during a conflict far away.

Paul McCartney – Tug Of War
from Wingspan: Hits And History

Paul McCartney’s 1982 album Tug Of War arrived with great expectations as it found the former Beatle reuniting with famed producer George Martin. As I recall, the album received glowing reviews at the time and became a huge commercial hit driven by the ubiqitous duet with Stevie Wonder, Ebony And Ivory.

The title track is a rumination on conflict that alternates between gentle and dramatic with a lilting melody and a hopeful vibe.

Gavin Friday – You Me And World War Three
from Shag Tobacco

Gavin Friday is probably best-known as a longtime friend of, and occasional collaborator, with U2’s Bono. That relationship once placed me in the middle of a case of mistaken identity with the former in a Dublin hotel.

On the sophisticated pop song You And Me And World War III, the Irish artist croons his way through a wry lyric about more immediate and personal friction.

Bob Marley And The Wailers- War
from Songs Of Freedom

One of the more famed songs by Bob Marley had its inspiration in a speech by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I before the United Nations General Assembly in 1963.

If X’ Country At War expressed the general apathy of a nation toward a far-flung conflict, the punchy War seethes as it demands justice for those who are more directly affected by those far-flung conflicts.

Dear Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas II: Yes We Have No Pajamas

January 5, 2010

About six weeks or so ago, I noted some of the things that had led folks, via search engines, here.

It’s still a lot of folks searching for sleepwear.

And there are still questions which need answering. So, here are a few of your queries with the actual search engine topic in parenthesis…

Shouldn’t Joe Walsh have his own line of pajamas?
(Joe Walsh pajamas)

Not surprisingly, lots of people searching for pajamas end up here. And somewhere in the world there is someone that is searching for Joe Walsh pajamas.

When I think of Joe Walsh, I think zany, so, yes, Joe Walsh should have his own line of pajamas. Joe should also host a children’s show, wearing pajamas and regaling boggle-eyed toddlers with his songs and antics.

One friend in high school was a massive Joe Walsh fan and, in college, a roommate and I would always play Walsh’s then-current Got Any Gum? album when we had shifts together at the record store where we worked.

If Joe ever does get his own children’s show, he’s already got a theme song…

Joe Walsh – Life’s Been Good
from But Seriously, Folks…

Is it true that Elton John is afraid of frogs?
(elton john frogs)

Had 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 kid.

Personally, I have a feeling that he has little interaction with frogs. I can’t picture Elton camping or going on a fishing trip in Wisconsin.

(I’ve read that the world’s frog population is disappearing at an alarming rate – as frogs become more scarce, could they gain cachet, replacing the chihuahua as the pocket pet for the wealthy and vaccuous?)

I can imagine that Elton is a fan of The Muppets and it wouldn’t surprise me if he plays The Rainbow Connection when he’s hanging out at home, belting out a stirring rendition with no one around to hear it.

Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson) – The Rainbow Connection
from The Muppet Movie soundtrack

What kind of crazy stuff is in Bob Marley’s…
(what kind of crazy stuff in bob marley’s)

What kind of crazy stuff is in Bob Marley’s…what?

Recipe for meatloaf?
Glove box?

I’m not sure why and I don’t recall ever seeing a photo of Bob Marley in a car, but I picture the reggae superstar driving a slightly-worn, early ’60s Mercedes – robin’s egg blue with a soccer ball in the backseat.

And in the glovebox? Gum, a French road map, a small wrench, three golf tees and a scorecard, and a box of Milk Duds with four of the candies inside and one rolling loose in the compartment – leftover from the last time the Wailers piled into the car to catch a night of kung fu flicks at the drive-in.

Whiteray ponders songs that are always a comfort and I’d have to have a few from Bob Marley.

Bob Marley & The Wailers – No Woman, No Cry [Live at The Roxy]
from Songs Of Freedom

Would you hit Alton Brown?
(would you hit alton brown)

In a post that includes Bob Marley, Muppets, and Joe Walsh, there is no possible way that I can advocate violence directed at Mr. Brown.

Now, Paloma seems to think Alton is becoming a bit of a diva on Iron Chef (I don’t see it), but neither of us have any reason or desire to pummel him. I dig the guy.

And, he looks like Thomas Dolby.

Concrete Blonde – Violent
from Group Therapy

97X, Again

July 30, 2009

A few weeks ago, a television commercial spurred me to reminisce about the discovery of 97X during my musical formative years. It prompted me to do a bit of research.

I’ve been well aware over the years how fortunate I was to grow up having 97X in a radio landscape that was mostly Journey, Foreigner, and Styx.

(not that I’m necessarily anti-Journey, Foreigner, and/or Styx)

I did not know that 97X was one of the earliest stations in the country to adopt a modern rock format.

The view from my bedroom as a kid might have been a vista of cornfields, but, beginning in the autumn of ’83, 97X made it possible for me to discover Talking Heads, U2, Peter Gabriel, and other future staples I wasn’t hearing on other stations.

I’d forgotten that the station broadcasted from studios at an unused golf course.

(I always pictured Caddyshack when this was mentioned)

Reception was dodgy. It wasn’t a station that my friends and I listened to when we were in possession of a car. 97X was a station I’d listen to mostly alone on winter nights while not doing homework.

(meanwhile, several friends were doing the same)

Like most radio stations these days, 97X has a website from which you can stream their broadcast.

(actually, 97X is no longer a terrestrial station)

More intriguing to me than their current playlist is the fact that the site also offers a vintage channel. It’s heavy on acts like The Clash, The Smiths, The Pixies, and such, but it seems to lack some of the lesser-known acts that they played at the time.

The Suburbs come to mind as 97X used to play their song Love Is The Law religiously. I haven’t heard the song in twenty-five years and, though I heard it daily for months on end, I can’t even remember the chorus.

It’s kind of like Dee Dee Deuser, a girl who sat next to me in kindergarten. I can’t recall for the life of me what she looked like, but three plus decades later, I remember the name.

(of course, you don’t forget a name like Dee Dee Deuser)

Each Memorial Day, 97X would count down the Top 500 modern rock songs of all time. Finding the list for the countdown from 1989 online allowed me to build a playlist that surprised me in its breadth and depth.

Here are a few songs that popped up randomly…

Talk Talk – Life’s What You Make It
from The Colour Of Spring

In 1984, I saw the video for Talk Talk’s It’s My Life more than I heard it on radio (even though it was a hit). The hypnotic Life’s What You Make It was from their next album and the only place I heard it was 97X.

After The Colour Of Spring, Talk Talk got progressively more…umm…progressive. Their music on the successive albums – Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock – was a melange of classical, jazz, and ambient improvisation, and, though I own them and they have been critically lauded, those records require a serious commitment.

Fetchin’ Bones – Stray
from Galaxy 500 Plus

Sometimes funky, sometimes with a bit of twang, Fetchin’ Bones rocked harder than Athens contemporaries like R.E.M., Pylon or B-52s (all staples on 97X). Singer Hope Nicholls is formidable like Niagara Falls is wet.

Stray is a corker, but I’m still partial to their song Love Crushing – “Be my flesh blanket and lay upon me” – from Monster.

The Jam – That’s Entertainment!
from Sound Effects

On those archived lists of 97X’ Top 500, there was no shortage of songs by The Jam and, still, I don’t recall them from my years listening to the station. It’s likely they were simply too British for me to take notice.

Nonetheless, I do remember when I first did take notice of them and it was sitting in Paloma’s apartment years ago and her playing Sound Affects over and over. It’s impossible now for me to hear That’s Entertainment! and not hear her singing along (and adding her own exclamation point).

Bob Marley & The Wailers – Could You Be Loved
from Uprising

There’s no doubt in my mind that 97X was the first place I ever heard reggae. Surprisingly, the radio stations that I had to choose from in 1983 in Southeastern Indiana didn’t find a place for Marley, Jimmy Cliff, or Peter Tosh alongside REO Speedwagon and John Cougar.

Fortunately for me, 97X offered me a healthy dose of all three reggae greats.