Sunday, July 02, 2017

Wild About Something

It started out with “Open Your Heart to Me” and it kept on going from there.

I went on an impromptu Madonna binge the other night, which is strange, seeing as I was never a particularly big fan of hers.

The other day I was screwing around with YouTube instead of writing, something I do far too often, and after playing one of her songs for old times’ sake, things just kind of snowballed from there.

By “old times” I mean the Eighties, which I still think of as the recent past, when the decade is in reality 30 freaking years ago. (Oh, Jesus, I’m glad I’m sitting down.)

YouTube ran the table with “Like A Prayer,” “Live to Tell,” “Express Yourself,” “Crazy for You,” “Holiday” and, of course, “Material Girl.”

Yes, it’s pop music, but it’s really well done pop music and once these tunes get into your head, it’s hard to get them out.

My nostalgia trip started when I rented Something Wild, Jonathan Demme’s 1986 film that stars Jeff Daniels as an New York executive, whose life is hijacked by a strange young woman, portrayed Melanie Griffith, and winds up in Pennsylvania going head-to-head with Ray Liotta, who plays Ms. Griffith’s psycho husband.

I’m a huge fan of Ray Liotta’s, which I think is why I rented film in the first place. And I lived in a small town in Pennsylvania for about five years, though most of the movie was shot in Florida.

I remember when this movie first came out, but I never got around to seeing it until now. And now that I have seen it, I’m still not even sure if I liked the damn thing or not, but it’s still sticking with me.

The story is alluring, a nice fantasy of taking off from the routine and finding romance and danger, but I didn’t buy into it.

You Make My Heart Sing

But, most of all, I think I rented the movie because I wanted to slide back to the 1980s. I love the music from that era and the clothes—skinny ties, unstructured jackets. And I was a huge fan of Miami Vice, at least initially.

Now to be brutally honest, the Eighties wasn’t the greatest decade for me. I was struggling with my health, my career, and my life. The latter portion particularly sucked if I remember correctly, though the memory is a little vague.

But I was younger and, even though I had a lot of negativity in my heart, I still felt there were possibilities for me.

That was the decade I got into journalism—or more accurately, backed in journalism, since I wasn’t sure what the hell I wanted to do for a living--until I became famous, of course.

I just thought that reporting was something I would do for just a short time before my novel or my screenplays took off and I would soon be working people like Jonathan Demme.

The movie opens up with a nice bouncy salsa tune performed by David Byrne and Celia Cruz as the camera travels up the East River and we get a nice clear view of the Twin Towers, which we all thought would stand forever.

It ends with a Jamaican singer named Sister Carol doing her own version of "Wild Thing."

I’m not going to give away too much of the plot, but if you’ve seen enough movies I doubt if you’ll be terribly surprised by anything that happens in Something Wild.

Ray Liotta looks so young I couldn’t believe it was him. In the film, he shows up at a high school with reunion with a young woman played by Margaret Colin. She now plays Ray Liotta’s wife on the NBC cop show Shades of Blue.

Jonathan Demme, who went on to direct Married to the Mob, Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, died earlier this year. He was 73 years old.

After all this time, the movie is more of an artifact than art. I just can’t get it out of my head.

Kind of like a Madonna song.


Bijoux said...

My memory of Ray Liotta is that he was on the soap opera, 'Another World' when I was a kid!

I as a fan of the movie 'Desperately Seeking Susan' when it came out.

Jay said...

Ooh, sounds like a movie we would like! Thanks!

The eighties only seem like a few years ago. It was a good - mostly good - time for me because my first son was born in 1980, and the second in 1985, but I guess that's why they passed in such a blur! then we had a year in New Zealand in 1988 which seemed to last longer than the rest of the nine years of that decade put together!

I go off on music jags, too. For me, it's usually the 70's, early 80's. A recent one with the Clash ended up with me liking them much more than I ever did at the time! And Leonard Cohen worked out that way, too. I've ended up re-connecting with bands over the last 5-10 years and buying albums I never owned at the time, but I still play.

Ron said...

Oh Rob, this post brought back a ton of great memories for me and the 1980's!

"YouTube ran the table with “Like A Prayer,” “Live to Tell,” “Express Yourself,” “Crazy for You,” “Holiday” and, of course, “Material Girl.”

HA! Can you believe I still have Madonna's Immaculate Collection video (on VHS)? And all those songs you mentioned are on that video. That's when I LOVED Madonna!

Weren't the 80's a fun decade? I remember such fond times. And I was living in Florida when Miami Vice went on the air and would watched it every week. In fact, I even had a "Don Johnson 1980's Florida outfit" that looked just like his on the show!

I like Ray Liotta too. I remember seeing Something Wild when it first came out.

Isn't it sad about losing Jonathan Demme this year? I've seen all his films. Great director and seemed like such a great guy!

Thanks for a trip down memory lane, buddy. Enjoyed!

Have a super week, and Happy 4th of July!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron! The Eighties was the best decade ever!

I'm sure you looked fabulous in your Don Johnson duds! So sad that we lost Jonathan Demme, but thank God we've still got Ray!

Take care, buddy, have a great Fourth, and hold on to that Immaculate Collection video!

Rob K said...

@Jay: Wow, your first son was born and you spent a year in New Zealand! The Eighties were a busy time for you!

The Seventies had a lot of wild music--remember "Play that Funky Music White Boy"?--and, of course, there was the whole disco phenomenon. It's so cool that you reconnect with those bands. The music can bring back so many great memories.

And, the Clash--wow, now that brings back memories! I think when I get done here, I'll go on Clash music jag myself!

Take care!

Rob K said...

@Bijoux--I didn't know Ray did the soaps. And you know? I've never seen "Desperately Seeking Susan" either!

Netflix here I come!

A Cuban In London said...

I remember Something Wild. Ray Liotta. He was some actor. I use the past tense because I haven't seen him in anything worth watching since Goodfellas.

Greetings from London.

Rob K said...

Ray's been active since "Goodfellas", brother, but as far as the quality of his work, well...

A Cuban In London said...

Agree. He has been active, yes. But I think he has not come up with the goods.

In August it's very likely I will be going abroad. How long are you staying? I shall be returning towards the end. We always leave a week in between coming back and returning to work to recharge our batteries.

The ICA is definitely worth visiting. Check their What's on on line.

Greetings from London.

Rob K said...

Hey, Brother! I'm arriving in England on August 19 and leaving Sunday, August 27. I'll be dividing my time between London and Manchester and if you're around I'd love to meet up! I'll shoot you my details and we can discuss...