MUSIC N’ MOVIES
The song “Lonely Ol’ Night” (John Mellencamp, 1985) and the film “Hud” (1963). The beautifully photographed, black and white “Hud” starred Paul Newman, Patricia Neal, and Melvyn Douglas, among others. Adapted from the Larry McMurtry novel, Horseman, Pass By, it received 7 Oscar nominations, with Oscar wins for Neal and Douglas. The central conflict is between the painfully honest, principled father, Homer (played by Douglas), and the cheating, narcissistic son, Hud (played by Newman). Homer had long given up on Hud, saying: “You just live with yourself and that makes you not fit to live with.” They live a small town in Texas cattle country where Dr. Pepper rules and art spins to the populace courtesy of the paperback rack at the drugstore.
Mellencamp found inspiration in the following exchange between Hud and his nephew, Lon, who are on their way into town for a night of carousing:
“It’s a lonesome old night, isn’t it?”
“Ain’t they all.”
Other than the housekeeper Alma (played by Neal), Hud can charm any woman into bed. Lon initially is seduced by the cocky, winner Hud, but ultimately sees through and rejects Hud. Lon departs the ranch to make his own way in the world, leaving Hud all alone. By that time, Homer had suffered a heart attack and died (after his precious longhorns had contracted hoof and mouth disease and been exterminated), and Alma had boarded a Trailways bus to an uncertain future with unknown companions.
At least in Mellencamp’s song, the night is custom made for two lonely people. In Hud, no two are left together. Then again, we don’t even know the names of the two people in the song. Maybe that’s why Mellencamp named one of his sons Hud in 1994.
INAPPROPRIATE SONGS THAT WON’T DIE
In an era of heightened political correctness, we are baffled how the following two songs (originally released in the early 1980’s) seem to climb the radio charts every 5 years or so:
“Into the Night” (by Benny Mardones)
This song (“If I could fly, I’d pick you up, I’d take you into the night and show you a love, like you’ve never seen, ever seen…”) apparently tells the story of a middle-aged man’s forbidden lust for a 16 year-old girl. Something of an In-Your-Face ballad to those fools “who don’t know what love is yet,” this song makes us think it’s just a matter of time until Chris Hanson asks Mr. Mardones to take a seat.
“Total Eclipse of the Heart”(by Bonnie Tyler)
“Once upon a time I was falling in love, but now I’m only falling apart, there’s nothing I can do, a total eclipse of the heart.”
Actually, the song lyrics weren’t offensive, it was the bizarre video. The set was a smoke-filled, private all-boys high school located deep within the Evil Empire. Flying altar boys with glowing eye sockets (aka “Bright Eyes”) were the most normal characters in a video populated with enough sexual innuendo to make Elton John blush. If the Radio Gods have to re-release one of Ms. Tyler’s songs every so often why can’t it be the vastly superior and uplifting “It’s A Heartache”?