At Least Cooper Huckabee Got To Keep His Pants On*

July 7, 2011

I was channel surfing the other day and happened upon a station where the closing credits to the movie Urban Cowboy were rolling.

Perhaps because I can be amused by something as simple as a piece of toast, I watched as the names scrolled across the screen. One caught my eye – Cooper Huckabee.

It was an unusual name and it was nowhere near the top of the cast, but it made me wonder about this fellow as I had never heard of him and Urban Cowboy was released in the early ’80s.

Was this Mr. Huckabee’s fifteen minutes of fame?

I wondered what his life was like during the time the movie was filmed.

Was he a struggling waiter/actor who had finally landed a role in a major motion picture?

Did he make excited phone calls home (maybe some small town in the hinterlands of Iowa) telling family and friends that he had finally made it?

Did his parents breathe a sigh of relief?

Did their disappointment that young Cooper had abandoned a college scholarship or their plans for him to take over the family feed store to pursue an acting career turn to pride?

Did his hometown newspaper do a feature story on him and the mayor give him the key to the city on “Cooper Huckabee Day” as most of the town’s 2,000 residents watched?

Did he believe that this would be the stepping stone to his becoming the next Robert DeNiro or Al Pacino?

Does he regret abandoning the family business now that it is thirty years later and his career hasn’t followed such a star-bound trajectory?

I also wonder about Don McManus.

McManus has appeared in over 80 movies and television programs in mostly bit parts, including an episode of Seinfeld.

He also had a role in The Shawshank Redemption, a movie that is one of the most critically acclaimed pictures of all time.

If you’ve seen the movie, he appears in one of the iconic scenes, one in which Tim Robbins’ character locks himself in the warden’s office and plays an opera recording over the prison loudspeaker. It’s a powerful scene and one in which McManus gets most of his screen time.

Unfortunately, much of that screen time consists of him sitting on a toilet, reading a comic book as he, in his character’s words, “pinches a loaf.”

I wonder if he has mixed emotions about being in such a pivotal scene of such an acclaimed movie with his trousers around his ankles. I wonder if his grandchildren will brag about his cinematic career, pointing to that scene as the highlight of his work.

Maybe my musings concerning these two fellows are rooted in wondering what it’s like to get so close to your wildest dreams only to fall just short of it being everything for which you might have hoped.

I didn’t see Urban Cowboy when it was in the theaters during the summer of 1980 but – though I wasn’t quite interested in music, yet – I do recall hearing several songs from the soundtrack on the radio at the time.

Here are four songs that were on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 chart during this week in 1980…

Ali Thomson – Take A Little Rhythm
from Take A Little Rhythm

Ali Thomson is not only from Scotland, but his brother Doug was the bassist for Supertramp.

I remember hearing Take A Little Rhythm often at the pool during the summer of 1980 and it shuffles up periodically on the iPod. Yet, I couldn’t recite to you more than a few words of lyric aside from the titular ones.

I don’t want to know. I just want it to be a laid-back little song that feels like summer to me.

George Benson – Give Me The Night
from The George Benson Collection

Guitarist George Benson cut his teeth performing straight-ahead jazz with organist Jack McDuff as well as performing with the great Miles Davis. In the ’70s and early ’80s, Benson also notched a number of pop hits with songs like This Masquerade, On Broadway, and Turn Your Love Around.

Give Me The Night – written by Rod Temperton who would pen several hits on Michael Jackson’s Thriller – is a silky smooth ode to nightlife with a light disco feel.

Joe Walsh – All Night Long
from Joe Walsh’s Greatest Hits

Like Cooper Huckabee, the laid-back groove of All Night Long appeared in Urban Cowboy.

I should probably delve into Joe Walsh’s ’70s stuff as it seems to be fairly well regarded. I know most of his stuff from the ’80s as my high school buddy Bosco was a fan and, during the latter half of the decade, a college roommate and I were greatly amused with Walsh’s Got Any Gum?

I also recall Glenn Frey, Walsh’s Eagles bandmate, doing commercials for some health club at the time. One popped up late one night while I was watching television with another roommate. The commercial ended and, still staring stupified at the screen, he noted, “Joe Walsh is sitting on a couch somewhere, right now, with a bong and laughing his ass off after seeing that.”

The Pretenders – Stop Your Sobbing
from The Pretenders

From the debut by The Pretenders, the jangling Stop Your Sobbing is a cover of a song written by future paramour of lead singer Chrissie Hynde (Ray Davies) and produced by a man (Nick Lowe) who would later write a song (I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock And Roll) alledgedly about the ex-wife of a former co-worker of mine.

That must mean something.

*reconfigured from a July 22, 2008 post while my head heals


“How ’bout A Fresca?”

April 17, 2010

I’ve happened across the movie Caddyshack a number of times lately. It’s been popping up on the Golf Channel, some “movie night” concept that has the feel of a regular program with nowhere to go.

Seriously, aside from Caddyshack, what other golf movies have there been?

There’s Tin Cup, and I think there was a bio-pic on Bobby Jones earlier last decade, and The Legend Of Bagger Vance (which I really liked).

But Caddyshack was quite the iconic flick with my junior high classmates. Few films I’ve been to kept the crowd at a constant buzz than Caddyshack did when I saw it in our small town’s theater on a Friday night.

The movie was maybe the first one that provided quotes that my friends and I would use on through high school. And having Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase in the same movie held obvious appeal.

It even made Kenny Loggins cool for a brief period.

The movie also resonated so much with us because, though our town was small, we had our own Bushwood. It had a stellar golf course, tennis courts, pool, lobster and prime rib on the menu…

My family wasn’t members, but a couple friends’ families were and they would get the rest of us in as guests.

Not that we really had much interest in the place. Yeah, we totally dug playing some golf after school a couple times a season, but there were other tennis courts in town and there were far more girls our age hanging at the public pool during the summer.

Girls trumped golf.

Of course, the summer before I headed off to college, I did spend a memorable afternoon at The Club. Through some twist of fate and despite no professional experience in the field, I ended up watching one of my high school teacher’s kids – three boys.

So, I spent the afternoon lounging poolside under blue skies, knowing that if any of the urchins drowned, I had already graduated. To my left, lounging eighteen inches from me, was Kate Hawkins, one of the most sought after girls in our class.

Like Fletch, a Chevy Chase character from another movie, I ordered a steak sandwich – and a steak sandwich. Unlike Fletch, I didn’t have to bill it randomly to some member’s account whom I didn’t know.

Easy money.

One of the very few memorable shots I’ve made while golfing happened at The Club when I chipped in a shot from just off the green on ten to make par. The Scottish invented golf. Here’s four songs from some acts from Scotland…

Ali Thompson – Take A Little Rhythm
from Take A Little Rhythm

Ali Thomson is not only from Scotland, but his brother Doug was the bassist for Supertramp.

I remember hearing Take A Little Rhythm often at the pool during the summer of 1980 and it shuffles up periodically on the iPod. Yet, I couldn’t recite to you more than a few words of lyric aside from the titular ones.

I don’t want to know. I just want it to be a laid-back little song that feels like summer to me.

Cocteau Twins – Blue Bell Knoll
from Blue Bell Knoll

With an entirely different seasonal vibe is Cocteau Twins who completely conjure up autumn for me – late autumn…widescreen, panoramic shots at dusk of isolated, thatch-roofed cottages perched precariously near cliffs, waves crashing onto a rocky shoreline below as a steady rain falls…and stuff.

Danny Wilson – Mary’s Prayer
from Meet Danny Wilson

I loved Mary’s Prayer when it was a minor hit a good decade before it made the soundtrack for There’s Something About Mary. And I know that we snagged a copy on vinyl awhile back that I keep forgetting to check out.

Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You
from Gorgeous George

I know that Collins had some success with the band Orange Juice in the ’80s, but it certainly didn’t translate to success in the US (or, if it did, I never heard their music).

But A Girl Like You , an Iggy Pop-inspired, fuzz-guitar driven confection, got a lot of attention in ’95 (and deservedly so) when it was on the soundtrack for the movie Empire Records.

I’ve never seen Empire Records aside from a few minutes here and there on cable. Paloma and I were working at the same record store at the time, so, there really was no need, but A Girl Like You was four minutes of near perfection.