Monday, January 18, 2010
Who Are You? I Really Wanna Know!
One of my favorite moments in one of my favorite Woody Allen films, 1987's "Radio Days," came early on as Allen's narration set up the story line and locale for this sweet, autobiographical tale of a young boy growing up during World War 2 and getting through the days thanks to the radio and its players. As Woody Allen sets the stage on a windswept rainy day in Far Rockaway, we hear a simple, yet gorgeous piano trio version of the Kurt Weill/Maxwell Anderson classic "September Song."
There are so many moments in this movie where the songs and visuals just make minced meat out of your emotions, but this particular scene really hit home for me. I don't believe the era should make a difference. If you were brought up around music, you will appreciate the song and story associations, even if you were born after World War 2. Woody's "September Song" could just as well be your "Elenore" by The Turtles.
I remember seeing and loving this film on opening day. I also remember being preoccupied with "September Song," occasionally drifting off from the movie, trying to guess who it was that performed this version. Art Tatum? Bud Powell? There is a bit of violin, but it is not Django and Stephane Grappelli. I paid very close attention to the closing credits, which listed what seemed like 200 songs and performers. Of course, the only....I REPEAT... THE ONLY song that did not list a performer, just a composer credit, was "September Song."
I kid you not.
Almost 25 years later, and no one has been able to give me an answer better than, "Maybe it was like the RKO orchestra or something."
Speaking of "Elenore" by The Turtles, cut to a few weeks ago:
I am watching a screener of "Pirate Radio," which is also filled with a ton of music, this time from the sixties. (The movie was fine. I didn't shut it off, which is a huge accomplishment for me.) There is a wedding scene, and "Elenore" by The Turtles is playing. As my friend, bass player extraordinaire Sal Maida would say, "That is an 'in the coffin' song. It's coming with me when I go."
I feel the same. "Elenore," just randomly slapped into any part of "The Missouri Breaks," would have taken that movie from 2 to 3 stars for me, but I digress.
As the scene unfolds, so does "Elenore," into a wonderful instrumental, that was part muzak-y, part Pet Sounds-y, and absolutely infectious. There went the rest of the movie. I started drifting. I couldn't wait to get to the closing credits to find....NOTHING!
This shouldn't be allowed.
Here is an audio clip of that scene from "Radio Days." Don't have one from "Pirate Radio."
Can anyone help with either?
Posted by Sal Nunziato at 4:10 AM