The More Things Change, The More Someone Still Wants To Wear A @#$%&! Tiara And Have You Call Them Princess

February 27, 2010

It’s not surprising to see the name John Hughes pop up over at Stuck In The ’80s. The filmmaker behind movies like Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and National Lampoon’s Vacation is certainly a patron saint of the ’80s.

His sudden death last autumn truly reminded me how much his films meant to my generation.

(Paloma actually gave me a copy of his Weird Science for Valentine’s Day)

But I was given to momentarily pause when I logged on to Stuck In The ’80s and was reminded that Hughes’ seminal The Breakfast Club was released twenty-five years ago this month.

My friends and I were juniors in high school at the time. I don’t remember if I saw The Breakfast Club with friends or with my girlfriend, but I do know I saw it at the theater in my hometown, one of those cool, old cinemas that had been around since the ’30s.

Even if I didn’t see it with my friends initially, we all did see it and, during that summer and our senior year, we saw the movie repeatedly, watching the video rental or on cable. Like a lot of kids our age, much of the dialogue from The Breakfast Club was known to us verbatim and popped up often in our conversations.

(I started to list some quotes and it proved futile whittling it down)

At sixteen-, seventeen-years old, we were able to identify with the characters and the film rang true for us. We all knew who, among the peers, were the brains, the athletes, the basketcases, the princesses, and the criminals.

(and, as the movie taught us, most of us were a make-up of several of those elements)

Amazingly, twenty-five years later, life still often resembles high school with less of the more light-hearted fare and an office replacing a hallway of lockers.

I have a co-worker who actually keeps a tiara at her desk. And she means it.

(and I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of them have a flare gun)

It’s like I’ve gone through a wormhole.

For as much good music as John Hughes put into his movies, The Breakfast Club‘s soundtrack – aside from Simple Minds’ Don’t You (Forget About Me) – is uneventful and unmemorable. So, instead, here are songs that I could imagine four of the five characters in the movie – had they actually existed – listening to in early 1985…

Bender

The hoodlum of the group, Bender was brought to life in stunning fashion with a flurry of quotable lines by Judd Nelson.

Bender does hum the guitar riff from Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love, so he probably liked some older rock. But, when it came to a radio station, I see him tuning in to 96Rock, an album rock station from Cincinnati.

It wasn’t a bad station – a mix of ’70s classics like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd mixed with then-current acts like Def Leppard and ZZ Top – but my friend Bosco would use its moniker pejoratively – “Some 96Rocker hassled me at The Kinks show.”

I think 96Rock was defunct by ’85, but, a year earlier, it was the first station that I ever heard play Mötley Crüe. I think Bender would have approved.

Mötley Crüe – Shout At The Devil
from Shout At The Devil

Claire

I thought I’ve read that Molly Ringwald was a fan of a lot of the bands used in John Hughes’ movies. I don’t know if I’d picture her character Claire listening to Psychedelic Furs or Echo & The Bunnymen, though I could believe her being a Duran Duran fan.

She likely also owned a copy of The Cars’ Heartbeat City from 1984. The album was still having hits a year later with a pretty understated ballad.

(though, as she was rather self-absorbed, she probably imagined the song as a lament from numerous suitors pining for her)

The Cars – Why Can’t I Have You
from Heartbeat City

Brian

For the brains of the outfit, Hughes cast Michael Anthony Hall. I think of brains and high school and I think of my buddy Streuss. Like Brian, I don’t think he could have made a lamp in shop class, but he and I did once disarm an alarm in a dorm using scissors, a plastic bag, and Scotch tape.

In almost every other way, Streuss, though brilliant, was Brian’s opposite. Streuss had charm and possessed a wicked, often surreal sense of humor. He had an entertaining, gangly, off-kilter vibe.

He was part Norwegian (as he once declared to one of our teachers in the middle of class).

In 1985, Talking Heads were coming off the success of 1983’s Speaking In Tongues and the live album/film Stop Making Sense. Streuss was a big fan of The Heads and had been for years before their mainstream success.

I suspect that Brian, like Streuss, was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Little Creatures that summer.

Talking Heads – And She Was
from Little Creatures

Allison

Ally Sheedy’s Allison was the “basket case” with a creative bent she expressed through drawing, telling fantastically untrue tales, and sandwich-making. She was truly a renaissance woman and she had no friends, choosing to spend her day in detention because she had nothing to do.

She likely went on to great things, perhaps writing children’s books, hosting a cooking show on television, or playing bass in a band.

As for her music, I think the quirky nature of 97X would have been her tonic. So, hitting shuffle on my 97X playlist resulted in a modern classic by the late poet Jim Carroll.

Jim Carroll Band – People Who Died
from Catholic Boy

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Some Metal For Steve (Or, How I Got Stuck On A Tour Bus And Watched Human Evolution Take A Step Backwards)

October 15, 2009

heavy_metal_280265I never went through a metal phase during my high school years (or at any other time, for that matter).

Oh, I thought some of it was marvelous, simply smashing stuff, but I was never drawn to an album merely because it was an excuse to make devil horns, offer diabolical instructions when played backwards, or had been endorsed on MTV’s Headbangers Ball.

During high school, my friend Chris did have a cassette onto one side he had taped the first album by Men Without Hats; side two, Iron Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast.

(I still enjoy the works of both bands to this day – as documented here, and here)

In college, though, I shared an apartment with a roommate whom I worked with at a record store. He was an excellent roommate, though, there were moments of friction, but these rifts were limited to the five to seven nights a week that I’d wake him at two in the morning after a night of watching cover bands and having a few drinks.

Between the two of us, I think we had somewhere in the range of five-hundred CDs, which was a staggering amount in 1989/1990. Visitors to our apartment would stand slack jawed and addled before the towering wall of music we had amassed.

(these visitors, usually village lasses charmed by the roommate, would often end up being angry and vengeful once the roommate had moved on, resulting in the need to leave my German Shepherd uncrated to ward off the ones who threatened to break in – no one ever did, but the dog did rip up most of the kitchen linoleum)

This roommate was a metal enthusiast.

Oh, he listened to a lot of different music, but its Danger Danger’s Bang Bang – or is it the other way around – that would end up on a soundtrack of our time together. Or, some rare, early Mötley Crüe self-issued releases on their own Leathür Records imprint.

And, one of the more goofily memorable events of those years was attending a club show – a triple bill of Steelheart, Bullet Boys, and Great White.

(this was a good decade before the last act became infamous)

The tickets were comps, the club was packed, and the roommate and I enthusiastically mocked Bullet Boys’ lead singer and David Lee Roth knock-off Marq Torien as he practiced Roth-like jumps in the parking lot.

The Spinal Tapness of that scene paled to one occurring later as we hung out on the tour bus of Steelheart with their label rep – who had invited us – and a rather dim contingency of cardboard cut-out metalheads.

As Bon Jovi’s relatively recent hit Wanted Dead Or Alive blared from the stereo, one of Steelheart’s members stood in the middle of the bus and hoisted a beer.

Bon Jovi sang of being a cowboy, but riding on a steel horse as opposed to one of the equine variety.

Steelheart guy shook his head in agreement with the words.

“This is like being a cowboy.”

He raised his arms, motioning all around him.

“And this is the steel horse he’s singing about.”

It was a stirring thing to have witnessed.

It must have been how the guys who were present for the invention of fire felt.

The roommate and I still e-mail on occasion. He recently took me to task for posting music by Ray Parker, Jr. So, here’s some hair metal to balance out the universe…

Mötley Crüe – Too Young To Fall In Love
from Shout At The Devil

Mötley Crüe always struck me as being…well, not exactly Mensa candidates. They did have a handful of songs that I thought were good, mindless fun (and Too Young To Fall In Love was accompanied by a bizarrely comical video)

Years later I would actually have a neighbor that was an ex-girlfriend of lead singer Vince Neil.

Ratt – Way Cool Jr.
from Reach For The Sky

While hardly rediscovering fire, Ratt never seemed to suffer from a shortage of insanely hooky songs. I mean, even their album cuts would immediately lodge in my brain upon hearing them.

And, in another odd connection, I own an amp that allegedly belonged to one of the band’s members.

Lita Ford – Kiss Me Deadly
from Back To The Cave

Lita never did much for me, not that I was ever exposed to much of her music aside from a couple of songs. Of course, Kiss Me Deadly was inescapable on the radio and a record store co-worker (not the roommate) would throw on Back To The Cave each and every chance that she got.

And, yes, I actually have a connection to Lita as, years after she had her brief period of success, I would become friends with someone that had been a member of her band during that short heydey.

Scorpions – Still Loving You
from Love At First Sting

Despite my relative disinterest in metal, Scorpions hooked me with their Blackout album and the song No One Like You. Unlike the other acts here, I actually owned several of their albums.

As for a connection to them, I don’t think I have even a tenuous one. However, if I recall correctly, the ex-roommate’s father was a big fan of Still Loving You on which lead singer Klaus Meine cranks the angst, melodrama, and remorse in his vocals to eleven.