Thursday, 25 February 2016

Songs About Actors

Songs about actors, who could have imagined it would produce such a rich vein? And none of includes songs about ex-actor Ronald Reagan since they tend to address his post-actor career in the White House. Sadly no songs either by the wonderfully named band JFA, as in "Jodie Foster's Army". Still, no shortage of ditties devoted to thesps.

1) Julian Cope - "Robert Mitchum"
Only Julian Cope could pull off something so twee as this. Imagine it as the soundtrack to "Night Of The Hunter"? Nope, me neither.

2) Kim Carnes - "Betty Davis' Eyes"
Not to be confused with The Adverts' "Gary Gilmore's Eyes", or Half Man Hal;f Biscuit's spoof on this "Dickie Davis' Eyes". Which is a pity as I prefer both of those infinitely to this pop pap, even if in the video people beat out a rhythm on the floor with their hands. Too much of that and they'll have Betty Davis' hands.

3) Lee Perry & The Upsetters - "Clint Eastwood Rides Again"
But Marc I hear you cry, this is basically an instrumental, so what has it got to do with Clint? Other than the ridin' along on ma horse rhythm and the increasing insinuation of gun shots you mean? Reggae artists love cowboys and spaghetti Westerns, honouring them in many a song and even artists taken the names of cowboys, such as well Clint Eastwood and Dillinger (all right he was more 20s bankrobber than cowboy). My chart, my rules.

4) Angel Corpus Christi - "John Cassavetes"
Try tracking this obscure album down... Amazed it's on YouTube to be honest. John Cassavetes, actor and film director. His work was talked about in hushed tones with great reverance, I saw one called I think "Husbands". It was fairly turgid. I wonder if he's still so highly regarded now that he's been dead for so long? The movie world can be as unforgiving as the music biz if you don't put out new product. Anyone remember Alex Cox these days? Thought not.

5) Bauhaus - "Bela Lugosi's Dead"
True story this. After my university finals but before we graduated we had a lot of time to kill. So we decided to play a gig outside the halls of residence. Plugged into the basement and off we went. Only the bassist could actually play, I was hitting a beer barrel with a sledgehammer for percussion (I was heavily influenced by Test Department at the time). And the song the bassist could really play well was this. The singer knew the lyrics. He was very active in the Animal liberation movement, hardly what one associates with the Goth revival as typified by this song. Funny world.

6) Billy Bragg - "Ingrid Bergman"
In which Billy punctuates his stand up repartee with a song 6 minutes into this video. Sorry about that.

7) Beastie Boys - "Lee Majors Come Again"
Let's crank it up with some noise. Lee Majors played the 6 Million Dollar Man on TV. As an actor you might not have given him more than 6 dollars. I think the Beasties may have drawn similar conclusions as the connection to lee Majors is tangential at best.

8) Nirvana - "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle"
KK was obviously much taken with Ms Farmer since he named his only daughter after her. I was never a great Nirvana fan, actually preferring the work of his Mrs, Courtney Love's "Hole". You want to make sure you put the speech marks round that or it takes on a whole different meaning. This song is even more dirgey than the usual Nirvana output. The name "Nirvana" was ironic right?

9) The Clash - "The Right Profile"
The Clash were always dropping references to real people in their songs. This checks the name of Montgomery Clift, actor in the classic "From Here To Eternity". Another actor who suffered a serious car crash, although he managed to eke out a tad more of his career after that. Now we've covered that, I don't have to post The Eagles' song "James Dean". What? If this was a chart for songs about actors involved in car crashes, then maybe...

10) MDC - "John Wayne Was A Nazi"
I don't feel I have to add anything to the song itself.

11) Natalie Merchant - "Lulu"
Okay let's take it down a notch or two. Merchant's paean to silent actress Louise Brooks, she of the famous hair do. What I called in one of my novels, the 'Roman helmet' cut.

12) Banarama - "Robert De Niro's Waiting"
God I hated this song when it came out. Still do. See, this is how generous I am posting songs I can't stand.

13) Madness - "Michael Caine"
This song was rubbish too. I'm beginning to think actors make lousy subjects for pop songs.

14) Sonic Youth - "Madonna, Sean And Me"
Bit of a cheat this one because everyone knows the song as "Expressway To Yr Skull", but for some reason when the album was released, this was the name they gave the track. Still, this revives my faith in the concept of the actor themed song, cos it is epic! Was lucky enough to hear them play it live a couple of times, walk off the stage at the end of their set and the guitar feedback was still squealing through the amps for a good few minutes later.

15) Serge Gainsbourg - "The Initials BB"
A song about his sometime collaborator on songs Bridget Bardo". Unless you speak french, you'll just have to take my word for it. I think Bardo has gone on to become the ultimate cat lady in her dotage.

16) Roxy Music - "2HB"
No, not a song devoted to the middle of the road in pencils, but extolling Humphrey Bogart. Bryan ferry sounds even more drawly than normal in this.

Just In From our NRA correspondent"
17) Stump - "Charlton Heston (Put His Vest On)"
God knows which bit of my deep-lying memory I dragged this one from, but a day after compiling the chart, this came to me.

1 comment:

Cindy Vaskova said...

Bela Lugosi's Dead is a favorite!

Bashing a beer barrel with a sledghammer reminds me of The Catch's '25 years' for some reason lol