Sunday, April 19, 2009

Show #7 April 18, 2009

For Wendy's near and far...

Wendy- The Descendents Enjoy!
Abracadabra (Have You Seen Her)- Blue Ash No More No Less
Homicide- 999 DIY The Modern World: UK Punk II (77-78)
The Silence Between Us- Bob Mould District Line
Undercover Agent Zero- The Flys See For Miles (78-80)
You're An Angel- Happy Hate Me Nots You're An Angel 45
Which Way- The Finders It's So Insane 45
Me And You- Adam Schmitt Illiterature
*Shelly's Boyfriend Bonnie Hayes & The Wild Combo Valley Girl: More Music From The Soundtrack
*A Million Miles Away- The Plimsouls Valley Girl: Music From The Soundtrack
*Johnny Are You Queer- Josie Cotton Valley Girl: Music From The Soundtrack
*The Fanatic- Felony Valley Girl: Music From The Soundtrack
E=MC2- The Celibate Rifles Platters du Jour
Chillout Tent- The Hold Steady Boys and Girls in America
Easy Action- The Pop Down On The Boulevard 45

*SacroSet: Songs from the film "Valley Girl"

Growing up on Massachusetts' South Shore in the late 70's/early 80's, I felt strongly that a person's record collection could tell you all you needed to know about them. (Yes, I was just like the guys in High Fidelity.) While my love of punk rock was barely apparent in my fashion choices (or non-choices really), I nonetheless felt it defined me more than any other aspect of my personality. When you love something that is considered "underground" in our culture, your first instinct is to try to share it with others. You want people to know how great it is and, in turn, how cool you are. I was soon to learn, however, that this is a double edged sword. Seeing the same jock douche bags that had been giving my friends and I crap for years in the Cape Cod Coliseum parking lot for The Clash's Combat Rock tour was in every sense a rude awakening. This was the band that changed my world view and to this day informs my political perspective. Yet, I was forced to witness these shirtless a-holes swinging t-shirts over their head screaming "Rock the f****in' CASBAH!" Did they even know what the song was about or what The Clash stood for? My head just about exploded.

Anyway, the whole Combat Rock incident (and The Clash's subsequent implosion in the face of fame) made me leery of any mainstream attention paid to my favorite bands. Luckily, most portrayals of "punk" in the early 80's were outright laughable. A January 1982 episode of CHiPs featured a punk band called Pain that caused multiple car pile ups wherever they went and September of that year saw the premier of Square Pegs with "new wave fan" Johnny Slash (who seemed more like a hippie acid casualty to me). The mainstream's most infamous examination of "punk" came in the December 1982 "punk rock episode" of the television show Quincy (in actuality titled "Next Stop Nowhere") which featured this quote from the program's namesake:

"I believe that the music I heard is a killer. It’s a killer of hope. It’s a killer of spirit."

So, needless to say I was VERY suspicious of the movie Valley Girl, released in April of 1983 and marketed as a "Punk" Romeo & "Val" Juliet. The great thing about the film is that punks Randy (Nicolas Cage) and Tommy (Michael Bowen) are neither the raging tool psuedo punks of CHiPs and Quincy nor the raging tool actual punks from Penelope Spheeris' documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, which freaked my friends and I out when we saw it in 1981. No, Randy & Tommy are just a couple of idiots who act like morons around pretty girls, and who can't relate to that? Deborah Foreman was also a great casting choice as Julie because she looks like a high school girl, not a super model, though the marketing people chickened out and left her off the poster (see above) opting instead for Randy's slutty ex who only has one scene in the film.

Doubtless aware of punk rock's limited commercial potential, Valley Girl Director Martha Coolidge was very savvy in raiding LA Modern Rock station KROQ's playlist for songs for the movie, even though there was no budget for a soundtrack at the time (Rhino didn't release the albums cited above until 1994). For me, the soundtrack represents Power Pop's losing battle for mainstream acceptance vs. the "new wave" sound that would come to dominate MTV and the pop charts in the coming years. You also have to love seeing The Plimsouls in the club scene, supposedly brought to the film by their friend Nicolas Cage.

In retrospect, it's easy to see why so many people have a strong bond with both the Valley Girl film and soundtrack. The filmakers weren't commenting on a subculture, they were simply trying to retell the Romeo & Juliet story for a new generation and they succeeded on all counts.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Rick!

    This is my all-time favorite show of yours! And not just because my name is Wendy... Valley Girl is one of my all-time favorite movies! (yep, I said it)

    I searched the aisles of Tower Records for the Valley Girl soundtrack for years until I managed to painfully record my own with cassettes of each album to get the singles lined up after hours of effort. Thank god it came out on a CD! LOL

    Your stories on the Clash and Valley Girl are priceless! I know the effort you put into this.

    Thanks for the shout-out and love to you, Jaime and the family!!!

    Your Valley Girl - Wendy