Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Radio Stars & Celluloid Heroes

July reminds me of long, summer nights riding in the car with the windows rolled down and the radio turned up.
When I was in high school I listened to top 40 radio. I once thought that Matthew Wilder's "Break My Stride" was a great song. While I was listening to WZOU my friend Stan listened to classic rock on WZLX - 100.7. He listened to all the classic bands: Cream, Yes, Traffic, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, Hendrix, etc. You name it and he owned it. His music collection was legendary.
One great memory is Stan introducing me to "American Pie" by Don McLean. He knew all the words and he would sing these songs at the top of his lungs while gesticulating wildly between puffs on his butt. The fact that he really couldn't carry a tune never deterred him, either. I grew to love that song because of his love for it.
Stan also used music to make fun of me once in a while. Two lines from different songs made him giddy with the teasing. In "Werewolves of London" the line "I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's - and his hair was perfect!" made him insufferable for the rest of the song if I was in the car. The other was "and if you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with!" by Stephen Sills. According to Stan, both applied to me.
On warm summer nights we would cruise around in his Charger, 'ZLX blasting from the presets as Stan chain smoked Marlboro's. All of Stan's presets were set to WZLX. This is because when I got tired of all of this classic rock crap I used to change the channel. Finally, one day, I changed the channel - right to ZLX. Next button - ZLX. And so on and so on. With a smug look on his face, Stan cranked up the tunes a bit more. I would never try to change his radio again.
At the time I wondered why anyone would want to listen to this "old hippie stuff". This attitude is confusing because of my love for classic movies from the thirties and forties was just coming into its own during this same phase. How I couldn't connect "classic films" and "classic rock" escapes me. However, hanging out (and living) with Stan afforded me all sorts of opportunities to listen to classic rock.
And listen I did.
One song - Celluloid Heroes - bridged the gap between rock and the movies. Listening to this song gave me a first hand look at the world that I loved (classic film) with the world that he loved (classic rock). The Kinks nailed what Hollywood was all about in this one song, as well as the inhumane manner in which the Hollywood industry drains and exploits its stars, while their iconic film images endure. He knew this song was one that would appeal to me and my love of old movies. As the song progressed, I marvelled at all of the actors that I knew within the lyrics. Soon, whenever we were in the car, cruising off to go bowling or to shoot darts at Squires - all involving pitchers of beer - I was sure to hear the familiar "ka-chunk" of a cassette falling into place and the bellowing forth of "Celluloid Heroes".
Right now the windows aren't rolled down and the radio isn't turned up. But, take a moment and listen to "Celluloid Heroes" anyway.


Blogger Fox In Detox said...

Excellent post my friend. Great minds think alike! Especially in areas of celluloid!

psst...XYZ, your dork is showing.
(Break my stride...snicker)

10:44 AM, July 01, 2008  
Blogger Bridget said...

Isn't that Breaka My Stride??? Oh, please.

12:12 AM, July 02, 2008  
Blogger Fox In Detox said...

Sadly, no... It's called "Break My Stride". What's even worse is I had to Google it just to make sure. Which means I'm either anal, or senile...neither one being the attractive option.

Yikes...now I can't stop singing it....

Last night I had the strangest dream...I sailed away to China, in a little rowboat to find ya
And you said you had to get your laundry clean. Didn't want no one to hold you, what does that mean? And you said....

See what you started Andy?

8:53 AM, July 02, 2008  

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