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.