Bad Things, Bonkers, Burt Reynolds, Cary Grant, Dunbar, Harrison Ford, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean Driving Experience, Jessica Lange, Joel Tyler, John Wayne, Keaunu Reeves, Middle 8, Miss Polski, Parents Fighting, Queen Sarah Saturday, Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, The Ruse, Tom Hanks
People do the love the famous. Me, I’m not really into famous people per se but I’m fascinated by the phenomena. The famous are clearly just distorted-mirror projections of ourselves, our unfulfilled hopes and dreams, our alter-selves, if only we had the time, genes, and personal trainers. Or they’re just a bit of innocent fun, a chance to live vicarious lives at no real cost. And musicians write songs about them. Whether it’s classical music giants (Falco “Rock Me Amadeus”) or silver screen icons (Kim Carnes “Bette Davis Eyes”), the famous get further immortalized in song. Personally, I like finding the more obscure odes to the famous from great unheard-of poprock bands, like the crew featured in this post below!
Today’s musical tributes focus on movie actors, some much revered, others not so much. But don’t go looking for detailed character studies. In most cases the famous name is just riffing on a mood, exuding a kind of musical cool if you will. Parents Fighting give “Keanu Reeves” just the right discordant River’s Edge emo vibe. Miss Polski’s “Humphrey Bogart” sounds delightful but I have no idea what they have to say about the movie icon, if anything – the song is sung entirely in Polish. Some actors get more attention than others. Both Middle 8 and Queen Sarah Saturday pay homage to “Robert De Niro,” the former offering up a bit of Blue Rodeo-ish roots-poprock while QSS leans more on a nineties brand of gungy power pop. Spinning the 2014 self-titled debut from LA’s Bad Things, they sound like a band that arrived just a bit too soon as later groups like the Vaccines hit paydirt with a similar vibe. It’s all there on “John Wayne.”
Miss Polski – Humphrey BogartMiddle 8 – Robert De NiroQueen Sarah Saturday – Robert De NiroBad Things – John Wayne
Taking things down a few notches, Joel Tyler offers up an airy, acoustic, vocally harmonious tribute to Hollywood everyman “Tom Hanks.” Check out his “Black Box” from the same 2017 EP Arms Are Meant For Holding – definitely worth an honourable mention (even if nobody famous appears in the title). And then our artists start shamelessly conjuring up the 1980s. You can hear it in the undisguised jauntiness of Dunbar’s “Cary Grant” or The Ruse’s “Burt Reynolds.” But it’s also there in the atmospheric jangle on “Sean Connery” from James Dean Driving Experience. Norwegian band Bönkers nail a particular John Waite 1980s sound on “Jessica Lange.” And then there’s the ever inventive Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin who offer up a shimmery, clubby pop and rocky confection dedicated to “Harrison Ford.” It’s a great closer.
Dunbar – Cary GrantThe Ruse – Burt ReynoldsJames Dean Driving Experience – Sean ConneryBönkers – Jessica Lange
Click on the links above to groove more permanently on these odes to fame or just check out the bands’ broader catalogue.
I had to come back and listen to a couple of these again. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin especially is a great track.
Dennis Pilon said:
SSLYBY are totally cool – very interesting catalogue.