Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Meanwhile, Far from Gotham City: My Six Favorite Songs

With the reportedly-good but reportedly-glum (not to mention extra-snuffy, due to Heath Ledger’s subsequent death) Dark Knight coming out this week, I am reminded of the 60s Batman series’ memorable theme song, open, and overall design — great things, and let none of my over-serious comic-reading brethren tell you otherwise.

And I find myself thinking of another show, from two decades later, that evoked crime of the 60s and had an even more wonderful theme song, namely Michael Mann’s Crime Story, for which Del Shannon rerecorded his classic “Runaway,” one of my six favorite songs of all time. (But then, the lead singer of 80s band English Beat, when I saw them in concert with the Fixx and the Alarm, said “The 80s is the new 60s, and fifty is the new thirty!” — though I’m not yet forty, for the record. Thirty-nine, soon enough, I admit.)

Here’s one version of the Crime Story open, which I often tuned in to watch on Thursday nights even without watching the rest of the episode, just to hear the song (especially during the first season, with a couple marvelously early-60s moments in that version of the montage, including a split-second shot of a guy in black dress shoes exposing his white socks as he runs, a fashion choice after my own nerdy heart).

And for anyone wondering (in no particular order):

•“Synchroncity II” by the Police
•“Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Calloway
•“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds
•“Runaway” by Del Shannon
•“Editions of You” by Roxy Music
•“House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals

Make of that what you will (one oddly-neurally-wired friend immediately noted they all involve lamentations about dangerous women, but I hardly think that makes them similar songs, so that can’t be it — and after all, what rock songs don’t involve lamentations about dangerous women?).

I think the only one I haven’t done in karaoke now is “Editions of You,” though some lucky people saw my “Virginia Plain” at Bowery Poetry Club just over a year ago.

Bonus trivia factoid: Last person to interview Del Shannon before his death? Dawn Eden.


OneLeafLeft said...

A lot of people gave their last interview to Dawn Eden. I get nervous every time I finish talking to her on the phone.

Dylan said...

I didn’t realize that was Del Shannon on Crime Story. I knew it wasn’t the original …

Great song, no doubt, but I think “Hats Off To Larry” and “Little Town Flirt” give it a run for its money.

“Editions Of You” kicks ass.

Todd Seavey said...

Ah, so many trivial anecdotes I could tell about each song, but here’s one quick thought for each:

–That police song comes from the first album I ever owned (still one of the very best, unless I’m just hopelessly biased by my history).

–You can see Danny Elfman as Satan singing a Minnie variation in a movie starring Herve Villechaize called _The Forbidden Zone_.

–Simple Minds claimed not to like that song as much as their other, more gospely-sounding tunes, Christians that they are (but they’re wrong, we all know).

–Shannon, who committed suicide not long after finding renewed fame due to _Crime Story_, replaced the words “wishin’ you were here by me/ To end this misery” with the words “watchin’ all the things go by/ Some live and others die” when redoing “Runaway” for _Crime Story_.

–A latecomer to Roxy Music (and concert-going), I grew to like them because I could hear the band being played through the wall of my freshman college dorm room and soon saw Bryan Ferry as my first rock concert, though early, T. Rex-like stuff like “Editions of You” rules over the later “make-out music” of the mid-80s for which they’re better known.

–Michael Mann didn’t create the 1993 cyberpunk miniseries _Wild Palms_ — Oliver Stone co-created it, oddly enough — but the influence of his show _Miami Vice_ upon it was obvious, with perhaps the best example being a neat music-video-like sequence in which Uzi-wielding commandos raid a cult compound (one month after Waco) to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun.”

Brain said...

All these songs are at least twenty years old. Did your heart harden to new music when you turned eighteen?

Todd Seavey said...

Things just haven’t seemed as melodically interesting to me since the hip hop and the techno and the ex-Mouseketeers and even the growling grungers took over. I’m pleased by some genuinely clever alternative rock developments, but even they often sound like throbby (Strokes-like) or twee background music to me rather than full-blooded _songs_:

“Hey, this has a bit of a Velvet Underground sound…hey, this has a bit of a garage sound…hey, this has a bit of” etc. instead of just, “Man, I love that song.”

Of course, like a lot of people, I have no idea what’s out there in this (admirably) diverse market anymore.

Not only can I not remember the last time I heard a new song and thought it was as good as “House of the Rising Sun,” I’m not sure I can remember — though it may just be that I’m old and out of it — the last time I heard a new song and thought it was as good as “Feed the Tree” by Belly. And that was fifteen years ago, alas.

Dylan said...

From what I hear, Del Shannon was also slated to join the Traveling Wilburys to replace the recently departed Roy Oribison.

I agree about Roxy Music. They still had good stuff later on, but the best was with Brian Eno. “Do The Strand” and “Remake, Remodel” are two of my faves along with “Editions”.

Moot said...

None of you know nothin’ about life until you’ve read Frank Miller’s The Dark Night Returns. Lessee Heath Ledger resurrect himself for that one! Glug.

Moot said...

That’s The Dark Knight Returns. Buy it, STAT!

Nice said...

What are Dawn’s six faves?