(I’ve Had) the Time Of My Life

Guest Host Chris Pratt & Chris Stapleton Sing “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”

Never felt this way before.

I swear, I actually have, this is the smile on the face enjoyment music engenders when it’s only itself, when it’s absent the trends of commercialism, when you’re singing and listening just because IT FEELS SO GOOD! When Chris Stapleton opens his pipes your jaw will drop, you’ll be transported from everyday life, you’ll believe in magic once again.

“Dirty Dancing.” A small movie that became a phenomenon. We didn’t go to see it. But in the old days of video stores, you’d peruse the titles, and they got to the point where they had more stock of the hitters and we picked it up and my ex watched it three times in twenty four hours. Sometimes when you shoot low and hit it it’s far superior to when you shoot high and barely miss. It was just supposed to be a stupid movie about summer romance, but somehow it ended up so much more.

Credit Jennifer Grey. And Patrick Swayze. You actually believe they were both those people. Grey was a cloistered girl who wanted to break out, who wanted to leave the family behind and be her best self. And this is what summer camp and summer vacation trips are all about, separating from your parents, flexing your muscles, spreading your wings. And we all want to be a member of the cool group.

As for Swayze, he came from the wrong side of the tracks, he was working for a living as opposed to vacating like Baby. It was a job. But ultimately something more. You see we all need something to believe in, and in Swayze’s group it was dirty dancing. Does dirty dancing really exist? WHO CARES! It’s a movie, you suspend disbelief, when done right you go along and believe.

And the film became so big that it tugged the soundtrack along. There were some oldies and some newbies, like Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes,” an unexpected comeback that I cannot burn out on to this day. But the piece-de-resistance was the duet, by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, on “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”

Now Medley was a relic of the sixties, he hit his peak with Phil Spector and hadn’t come close to that since. As for Warnes, she’d had success with 1976’s “Right Time Of The Night,” but her most well-known cut was also a duet, with Joe Cocker, on “Up Where We Belong,” from the 1982 smash hit “An Officer And A Gentleman,” which swung harder with a bigger budget but ultimately hit the same note as “Dirty Dancing.”

And now Medley and Warnes were united on a cheesy closing number that…

Brought tears to your eyes. I’m tingling writing about it right now. It’s something everybody who was alive back then knows by heart, even younger generations who’ve caught up on the film on video.

So, with Chris Pratt hosting the Kimmel show…

Which is kinda funny, Jimmy’s not afraid of losing ground, he doesn’t have to hog the spotlight, he’s talking a clue from Johnny Carson way back when, adding some spice to the show while he takes a breather.

And the truth is late night is all about virality, creating a clip, but that’s all Fallon does, when he fawns, and Colbert is more about the jokes, but Kimmel’s more about the moments.

So watch this video. I know, I know, the intro is long, but it’s all just buildup until…

Chris Stapleton starts to sing.

It’s a lark, not serious, hijinks for late night. And then…

‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life
AND I OWE IT ALL TO YOU!

You can’t believe it. We’re no longer used to excellence, we’re no longer used to melody. The big beat rules and people oversing on competition shows but they lack soul, it doesn’t come from within them, they’re there to impress, but Chris Stapleton is channeling the gods.

We saw the writing on the wall
As we felt this magical fantasy

Chris doesn’t seem in on the joke. At this point he can’t make fun of the song, can’t throw off a vocal, it’s like he’s on stage at the Ryman and every word comes straight from the heart, like it’s life or death.

Now with passion in our eyes
There’s no way we could disguise it secretly
So we take each other’s hand
‘Cause we seem to understand the urgency

That’s love. Like you have for Stapleton’s performance. It’s got that passion, that urgency of the greats.

He’s the one thing I can’t get enough of and then comes the magic moment, the one that seals the deal, when Stapleton leans back, swings his arm and belts:

NEVER FELT THIS WAY!

Eeegads, this is the real thing.

He’s reading off the Teleprompter. He’s not doing one of his own songs. The hipsters decry the mainstream song he’s singing, yet somehow he makes it his own. Substitute a woman with pipes for Chris Pratt and you have a hit record, one that makes all listeners feel good, that they cannot get enough of.

And the credible rockers of yore wouldn’t do this, they disdained TV.

But just like them, Stapleton arrives in his regular outfit, he’s not dressing up just for the gig.

But Stapleton gets the joke. And he knows the song. And it’s a great melding of what once and in this case, still is.

Sure, at the end you realize this was rehearsed, since Stapleton flies.

Or maybe it was all done in post. Hell, Chris didn’t seem that prepared, he didn’t know the words, he was just caught up in the moment.

And you will be too.

The Modern World

You have your own set of facts. There’s always a site on the internet that confirms your bias.

You work the refs. You believe if you reply every time, the other side will think twice before speaking again. The right is especially expert at this.

You think you know more than you do. The older you are, the less you think you know. Which is why it’s hard to find aged belligerent bullies, ever see a tattooed fiftysomething biker with an edge? Now you’re gonna say you have, which is exactly the problem in today’s society, the exception invalidates the rule, only it doesn’t.

Mine for me. No change can be made if I’m negatively impacted. No wonder there can’t be any progress.

No trusted single news source.

News is conflated and confused with opinion.

You can’t convince someone to change their opinion.

Compassion is secondary to personal triumph.

Corporations are venerated, this is what happens when artists abdicate. True artists exist outside the system, when they’re so busy sucking up to corporations for cash it’s no wonder they’re not believed.

Positivity rules. If you point out flaws you’re a hater.

Everybody’s establishing their personal brand, as if we can all be rich and famous.

No one looks at the long term picture, where you’re gonna be after your supposed peak.

The rich live a completely different life from the poor, and until this changes we will not see progress. The scions of the rich go to the best educational institutions, the rich go to the best doctors and their goal is to keep you out, ergo the gated community. They want to feel safe and want no crowds, ergo the private island. Life is about exclusivity, everybody’s trying to remove themselves from the hoi polloi. But we are the hoi polloi, that is society.

We need a scapegoat, the problem can’t be us.

The failures of the right are equated with the failures of the left. False equivalency reigns.

Too many people pontificating have too little experience.

You feel powerless. They tell you to run for office, but gerrymandering stacks the deck and Washington, D.C. is hampered and ineffective and elite. You’re willing to do the work, but not if it has no effect. Optimism has plunged even though it’s illegal to be negative.

The hard-working have contempt for those on drugs and welfare. As if living on the bottom was pleasant.

People vote against their own interests.

If you’re rich, you’re right, even though this is patently untrue.

Our heroes are techies, not politicians.

Techies sold us down the river. Google said it wasn’t evil but it and Facebook are the worst of all. Google gives different people different answers on the same query and both outfits know more about us than we know about ourselves and are little different from the idiot box TV of yore, only they’re worse.

Disinformation rules. It’s a full time job trying to ferret out the truth. Meanwhile, there are individuals and corporations investing in selling you falsehoods.

The issue isn’t whether Trump will lose his job over Russia but the fact that the integrity of the process may have been compromised, causing a lack of belief in the system, and then you’re screwed.

Issues are complicated, but those with little insight weigh in with answers.

Progress is happening, you can’t hold it back.

We live in a world economy, to deny this is to take the U.S. out of the equation to its detriment.

I’m afraid to be anti-right because of the blowback. But too many in the news business are faceless and unaware of this blowback. Or in cahoots with the rich and believe they’re above it.

Personal credibility is in peril. No one walks the walk and talks the talk. You can say no, you know. If someone rich with a bad CV wants to buy you dinner, you can say no. The key is to be uncompromised.

“Norma Rae” was a hit in the seventies, now unions have a bad name, the product is made overseas and they don’t make this kind of movie anymore.

Statistically the American Dream has better odds in Canada and Scandinavia, even the right wing paper of record, the “Wall Street Journal,” said so, but try convincing Americans of this, they just believe if they put their nose to the grindstone and work harder everything will work out, they’ve been sold a bill of goods.

Trump vs. Talking Heads

Art is an attitude. Art is a viewpoint. Art is subversive. Art is a burst of creativity and energy.

Punk rock eviscerated prog rock and corporate rock when those became too contemplated, when they were made for a market instead of the art itself.

Your goal is to make people think. To confront them with the unexpected. To wow them.

Art is conception more than execution.

Art engenders discussion. It’s part of the human condition, you want to tell people about it.

If you were paying attention to the Talking Heads you were not prepared for “Remain In Light,” with its new sounds, its refusal to give the public what it was looking for, more songs about buildings and food. And I love “Life During Wartime” from “Fear of Music,” but not as much as “Once In A Lifetime,” with its bubbling from the deep intro, obtuse lyrics and subliminal chorus.

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

This is disconnected from society yet a comment thereupon. The best art is other but in being that it is central.

And you may ask yourself…

HOW DO I WORK THIS?
WHERE IS THAT LARGE AUTOMOBILE?

And you may tell yourself…

THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE!

There’s the element of disorientation, having lived in the same world as everybody else yet it now no longer makes sense.

And then at 3:24 comes that buzzsaw guitar, or something that sounds like it, an ugly noise that feels so right, and David Byrne is chanting as he goes down the rabbit hole:

Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Look where my hand was
Time isn’t holding up
Time isn’t after us…

The song is going down the drain and you want to cast aside all your accoutrements, your life itself, to go down the pipe with it. That’s a hit record, not one that goes to the top of the chart, but one that changes our viewpoint, our preconception, that we can never forget even though we’ve only heard it once. When the album bleeds into the next track not only are you disappointed, you’re empty and soulless.

So now we’ve got this Swedemason, unknown to me previously, mashing up this incredible Talking Heads song with images of Trump reciting the exact same words and the dissonance is riveting.

How did he come up with this?

This is what we used to ask our artists. Before we were supposed to listen to them recite their hardships and sponsorships.

And you may find yourself
Living in a shotgun shack

There seems to be no floor in America anymore, they want to take away the safety net, get ready for free fall.

And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you know you may say to yourself
HOW DID I GET HERE??

David Byrne was not thinking of Donald Trump when he wrote these lyrics, but he seems prescient thirty five years later, then again great art is timeless.

Virality comes after conception. If you’re making it to be famous, you’re on the wrong track, but if you capture something deep inside the audience, they cannot help but tell others about it.

And Trump may ask himself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
And he may say to himself
MY GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE!

The Meyerowitz Stories

What is a life?

I miss the past. Believe me, I know the present is better, technology is a boon, but when I look at pics from way back when I’m enamored of the development process. Like skiing, I spend tons of time researching skiing online. And when I see the old straight skis and leather boots I remember how there was an arc, from off the radar to the mainstream to maturity. That’s right, skiing is now an upper class sport, with high speed lifts and shaped skis and there are still innovations, but few breakthroughs, kinda like music. And tech.

We went from transistor to stereo. From 45 to 33. From mono to two channel effects. And the music changed along the way. No one was prepared for “Sgt. Pepper,” or Hendrix. It’s like they came down from the stratosphere and engendered imitators who splintered off into something new. Where did prog rock come from? Forget the shunning of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, prog was both a breakthrough and big, ever since that Jann Wenner bio we have to reevaluate the past. Then again, he or she with the printing press controls reality and perceived truth. Isn’t that how we got into this mess, the web? We didn’t foresee this, we thought the internet would solve all our problems, but now four corporations dominate and everybody’s got a megaphone and we’re manipulated and no one believes in truth, hell, some right wing bozo sent me an e-mail about Hillary faux pas and when I linked him to Snopes he said he doesn’t trust the site, what next, no trust of science? Oops! We’re there! The left doesn’t trust medicine and the right doesn’t believe there’s global warming and you and me sit here and wonder not only how we got into this mess but where we’re gonna go.

I used to go to the movies. Constantly. Every night at one point. And then came the video revolution, where you could view history in your home as opposed to needing to go to the revival house. And now there are so many flicks I don’t know where to start, I don’t go to the theatre because the flick doesn’t start when I want it to, which is immediately, we live in an on demand culture where no one wants to waste any time. And the movies they promote have monsters and superheroes and special effects when I’m most interested in reality.

“The Meyerowitz Stories” is about reality.

And you can watch it right now, on Netflix. Everybody’s got an account, or access to one. And don’t e-mail you don’t, that you’re too broke for ten bucks a month, why do people feel better about themselves if they’re poor, or that you don’t believe in it, if one more idiot e-mails me they don’t have a smartphone…just imagine, a hundred years ago, you would have been the person without a car, how does that feel? People get worn out, they’ve got future shock, and then they die.

It’ll happen to you. But you don’t believe it. And then you do. When achievement no longer seems possible, when the book of your life has been written, when your world gets smaller.

You don’t want that to happen. Fight with your greatest strength. Don’t let your world get small. Did you read that “New York Times” article about dying alone in Japan? Gonna happen to the boomers, who were so busy striving for fulfillment, believing in their hedonistic ways, that they too might end up alone.

But once you were together. With friends. Arguing, putting each other down, laughing, and then some moved away, others died, you got wrapped up in your world and suddenly you found yourself alone.

It’s the human condition.

I like to watch movies about the human condition.

What if my parents were different? What if they supported me instead of tearing me down? What if I was not the middle child? What if my father had been a regular guy? We’ve evolved to the point where those considerations don’t matter. Famous people can cry, but the truth is you’ve got to appear together at all times, the Instagram culture, perception is more important than reality.

So Dustin Hoffman plays an artist who didn’t make it. Not someone who gave up the dream, but pursued it and didn’t reach the brass ring. Most people give up, like so many on the borderline, he taught. And he thought he was better than everybody else when deep inside he knew it was all a cover-up, a way to make himself look good in the few moments people were paying attention.

Adam Sandler is a man-child, never growing up, wearing his shorts every day. Oops, I do that, it’s one of the perks of living in Los Angeles, of being in the entertainment business, I have contempt for those in expensive suits, am I no different from Adam Sandler? I hope not.

And Adam has never worked, he just lives in the shadow of his dad, who doesn’t even realize the dynamic.

As for his sister Jean, she escaped, but not really. We see this in many families, someone moves away and has limited contact, they’re busy saving themselves, but Jean cannot help but do the right thing, she’s a good person. Those who’ve been abused are the most compassionate, they know what it’s like to be on the losing end emotionally.

And Ben Stiller looks like he’s together yet he’s not, he too is traumatized by his father. We know so many people like this, if you scratch the surface you’ll learn money doesn’t salve the wounds, they’re as untogether as you are.

You’re either crippled, or making up for it or both.

That’s what “The Meyerowitz Stories” is about.

Although it hearkens to the past, it’s positively new in its distribution, it opened theatrically and on Netflix simultaneously. This is the future, we’ve realized it in the music business, film is still learning. The enemy isn’t piracy, but obscurity.

I am a fan of Noah Baumbach, who’s an auteur, more like Woody Allen than Brett Ratner. Even Spielberg, his movies look good, but they lack heart, authenticity, which isn’t about getting the images right, but the emotions. Ever since “The Squid and the Whale” I’ve paid attention. Loved “Frances Ha” and “While We’re Young” and this is not to implore you to watch any of these films, I’m not saying you’ve got the same taste as I do, but once upon a time, prior to “Jaws,” this is what cinema was. You couldn’t make that much money, the focus was on art, on story, on truth. Film drove the culture.

Film doesn’t drive the culture anymore.

Certainly not music.

Nor even tech.

When you eliminate the humanity you’re left with a husk of what was. What we’re looking for in our art is not titillation so much as truth, truth lasts.

So “The Meyerowitz Stories” is sticking with me.

In the old days I would have gone on a Sunday afternoon.

But now it’s there, ready for a click.

And what the other people making these movies don’t realize is by doing it the old way they’re working against themselves. “Lady Bird,” ironically directed by Baumbach’s girlfriend, mumblecore superstar and now mainstream presence Greta Gerwig, is one of the best reviewed pictures of the year, but damned if I’ll go to the theatre to see it, it’s hard align time and mood, and when it finally gets to television there’ll be something new to see. And now the oldsters will crap on me but that’s not the point. I embrace the now and the future, can’t the past merge with them?

Streaming is fantastic. Having the history of music at your fingertips for ten bucks?

Same deal with Netflix.

But the oldsters decry them.

Something is lost in the march forward, air conditioning eliminated vent windows. But the present is better.

And the present means in some cases our heart’s desire is available at our fingertips.

We’re never going back, some people have to be dragged into the future.

And now I’m mixing my points. But that’s what happens in a free exchange world, people excoriate you constantly. I hate the anti-technology voices, you fix the future, you don’t go back to the past.

But life never really changes. We’re all human, with our own stories, more losses than victories, more conundrums than solutions.

And “The Meyerowitz Stories” evidenced this which is why I liked it.

“A Generation in Japan Faces a Lonely Death”