Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for November 16, 2012

[Making God Laugh] -- I got the idea for this week's Flashback while in the middle of working tech for Making God Laugh, the final production of Montgomery Theater's 2012 season. This show follows a Catholic family -- mom, dad, and three siblings -- in the Midwestern U.S. over the course of four decades. Each of the four scenes focuses on a different holiday in a specific decade, and the very first scene takes place in the 80s. As there are three siblings in the show -- Ricky, Maddie, and Tommy -- I thought I could choose an 80s tune to represent each one of them. Which songs best characterize these three siblings as portrayed by Bob McDonald, Tabitha Allen, and Adam Danoff? Well, to learn that, you will have to read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"The moon... beautiful | The sun... even more beautiful."

Our first Flashback of the day comes from the Swiss electronica band, Yello, whose name is a pun on "a yelled Hello" (something said by vocalist Dieter Meier). Yello's best known song is "Oh Yeah" which was featured in the 1986  film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. In the film, the song underscores a scene showing off a beautiful Ferrari. In the play, Ricky, who tries without success to re-brand himself as Rick, thinks of himself as a car guy (and one of his cars was actually yellow). Therefore, "Oh Yeah" is a perfect song for him. "Oh Yeah" was a single on Yello's fourth studio album, Stella (1984). Stella peaked at #1 in Switzerland, reached the top 30 in Austria and Sweden, and cracked the top 100 in the UK. The album did not chart in the US. "Oh Yeah," however, hit #51 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1987.

Flashback #2: "
The light that you could never see | 
It shines inside, you can't take that from me."

Finding a song for Maddie was the most difficult task for this week's Flashback post. Tunes for Ricky and Tommy pretty much popped right out at me. But when I gave Maddie's 80s outfit some thought, and looked at her character arc, I knew I could find an appropriate tune from Madonna's catalog. In the 80s, Madonna was something of a failed actress, and Maddie, too, is struggling with that career choice. Maddie is also struggling to come into her own, becoming burdened by the brutal honesty that threatens to cloud her otherwise humorous disposition. Also, as the one sibling that lives the farthest from the family home -- in more ways than one -- Maddie certainly has a story to tell. Therefore, only the first single from Madonna's third studio album, True Blue (1986), could hit all the marks. "Live to Tell" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #49 and shot to #1 within eight weeks. It also enjoyed success on the Adult Contemporary and Hot Dance Singles Sales charts. "Live to Tell" also did well internationally, topping charts in the UK, Canada, and across Europe. The video features scenes from the 1986 movie, At Close Range, which starred Madonna's then-husband, Sean Penn.

Flashback #3"Lyric."

During Making God Laugh, the youngest sibling, Tommy, becomes a Catholic priest. This career choice seems more like destiny (after some dialog around old photos), but it was not without a few wrinkles. What better song to represent a character's sincere calling to serve God and church than New Order's 1987 single, "Touched by the Hand of God"? (OK, there are at least half a dozen other choices, but this was the one that stuck the landing for me). "Touched by the Hand of God" first appeared on the soundtrack for the 1987 film, Salvation! starring Viggo Mortensen, Exene Cervenka and Stephen McHattie. It was a spoof on televangelism likely inspired by the real-life scandals of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. By the way, that's not a cut against Tommy in the play (or is it?). "Touched by the Hand of God" was never included on a studio release, but it was subject to a number of single and remix releases, and it does appear on the 1994 compilation The Best of New Order. As our final Flashback of the day, I offer of the 12" remix version for a full seven minutes of New Order goodness.

Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

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I'll see you in seven!

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