I knew little of the crushing, oppressive nature of totalitarian regimes before Footloose. Sure, we were at the height of Cold War tensions in 1984, but the Soviets merely wanted to nuke us like microwave bacon; they didn’t want to stop us from dancing.
Then, I saw Footloose – as a double bill with Flashdance at our local drive-in no less – and saw the peril to personal freedom that could result from unchecked power and a failure to separate church and state.
(especially when John Lithgow is involved).
And, thanks to Kevin Bacon, I learned that petulance, Bible passages, encouragement from the owner of the local grain mill, and Kenny Loggins was all that was necessary for one man to fight tyranny.
So, you can imagine my delight when I saw that Footloose was showing this evening on one of the cable stations. In these days of wire taps, the Patriot Act, and all-expenses-paid trips to Guantanamo, the lessons of Footloose are more important than ever.
But no, it was not to be.
Of late, some of our cable channels will simply freeze as though the interns at the station have gotten stoned and paused the DVD – “Dude, it’s like we have the power to stop time.”
Paloma and I settled in and turned to the appropriate channel but instead of Kevin Bacon, there was Peter Boyle in Young Frankenstein, motionless and inert. I could only wonder if it was the result of stoned interns or something more sinister.
Perhaps from some undisclosed bunker, Dick Cheney doesn’t want the subversive lessons of Footloose to be viewed by the American people.
We ended up watching The Family Stone which, coincidentally, starred Sarah Jessica Parker who also appeared in Footloose. In one scene, she got liquored to the gills, dancing drunkenly to a song on the bar jukebox.
I turned to Paloma. “She has Kevin Bacon to thank for that dance.”
Here are four songs about The Man…
Rage Against The Machine – The Ghost Of Tom Joad
from Live & Rare (1998)
I didn’t immediately gravitate to Rage Against The Machine. I thought some of their lyrics and politics to be half-baked. However, seeing them live, opening for U2, made me a fan of the sheer sonic force of their music. The Ghost Of Tom Joad has become one of my favorite Springsteen songs and their version is a stellar.
The Clash – Rock The Casbah
from Combat Rock (1982)
John Lithgow didn’t approve of dancing and the Sharif didn’t like “that boogie sound.” It doesn’t matter if you’re a farm kid in the hinterlands of America or a Bedouin in the deserts of the Middle East, The Man will try to keep you down if you let him.
Bruce Cockburn – If I Had A Rocket Launcher
from Stealing Fire (1984)
Fortunately for John Lithgow, it didn’t come to armed conflict in Footloose, but I have no doubt that Kevin Bacon was keeping all of his options on the table.
Unfortunately, If I Had A Rocket Launcher is all that most people know of Bruce Cockburn, one of the more underrated artists out there. I met him once, following a show, and he was as cordial, gracious, and unassuming as any musician I’ve encountered.
Drivin’ ‘N’ Cryin’ – Fly Me Courageous
from Fly Me Courageous (1991)
I remember seeing the video for Fly Me Courageous in the middle of the night while I was in college and being blown away by its monstrous groove. It still never fails to make me stop whatever I’m doing when I hear it.
The song arrived as the US was prepping to drive Iraq from Kuwait and interpreted by many listeners as a pro-war anthem. It sounds more like a cautionary tale to me.
*remixed from June 2008