I don’t know why it fascinated me so much recently to poke around with songs that had foreign lyrics in them. But, here we are. This week’s show (and I promise I’m done with the premise for awhile) looks at four songs between 1969 and 1984 which have non-English phrases in them. Some of them have been hilariously misunderstood for a long time. One of them is pretty obvious but I decided to throw it in anyway. And one may come as a surprise to you, especially if you don’t speak Spanish.
As promised, here’s an episode of the European game show Jeux Sans Frontières from 1975. This episode comes from Engelburg, Switzerland:
And here’s another, airing from Vilamoura, Portugal in 1980:
Some songs seem to spring out of nowhere, and then you take a deeper look and you realize that it’s a cover, or a rewrite, or it’s a re-release that flopped the first time. “Take On Me” by A-ha, it turns out, is in the All Of The Above category. It was re-written several times and re-recorded a couple of times, and released three times before it finally became the hit we know today.
First up: A Hat Tip to Jeremiah Coughlin of the podcast Brine Time, a podcast dedicated (but not limited to) the Portland (OR) Pickles baseball team. He wanted to hear about some Foreigner, and coincidentally I just picked up a copy of Agent Provocateur, so we were off to the races. Anyway, Jeremiah and his partner Jake Silberman are a funny couple of guys who know how to convey their fandom in a fresh way. And now I kinda have an idea for another podcast. Aberdeen Ironbirds, are you paying attention?
I think I’m the one person who didn’t hate Agent Provocateur as an album when it first came out in December 1984, because the critics gave it a beatdown. It ultimately yielded four singles, two of which did…okay, and the other two did very well, including this one, which was their only Number One track in the US and the UK, not to mention a bunch of other countries around the world.
Not bad for an album everyone hated.
But while the work was good, Lou Gramm was itching to work on a solo project, and he used “I Want to Know What Love Is” as one of his reasons for bailing out for awhile, so he could go work on his solo album Ready or Not almost simultaneously with their sixth album, Inside Information. And it seems like both albums suffered as a result.
So here’s the show, and then go listen to Jeremiah and Jake.
First off, my apologies for the delay in this post. It appears that GoDaddy likes to do scheduled maintenance on Sunday nights, so I’ve been getting blocked out of the site on my end lately. At your end everything looks fine, but I can’t create new posts or transcripts or anything, really.
This week comes to us by request of Innkeeper Freddie, about whom I’ve gushed a little too much already. There are links to his show in the Episode 98 post below. He asked me to do this the day I met him, and who am I to disappoint.
“Purple Rain” the song was one of the last written for the movie, and it only became the title of the movie once the director managed to impress upon Prince how important it was to the scene he envisioned. Once he got a handle on that, Prince then asked him if the movie could also be titled Purple Rain. Given that hardly anyone expected anything to come of the film, the production company didn’t have a problem with it.
The extraordinary thing about the Purple Rain soundtrack is that three of the songs—including the title track—were recordings made of the first time the band ever played them for an audience, at the First Avenue Club in Minneapolis. The other two songs needed a bunch of post-production reworking, but “Purple Rain” only needed to be cut for length and not much else.
It’s unfortunate that, because of the Me Too movement, the film hasn’t really aged well (women are treated pretty poorly), which is a bit of a shame because, considering that it was a first-time director working with an entire cast that had never been in a film before, it’s not that bad. Also, as it turns out, Prince was a bit of a natural in the sense that the concert scenes were shot in about one-fourth of the typical time, partially because he didn’t want to do a million takes of every song, so the director set up multiple cameras and each song was performed three times, tops. And, as the story goes, Prince hit his marks exactly each time, making the editing much easier later on.
For those of you who listen or download here, enjoy this bounty:
Apologies for the delay; I’m powering through a wicked chest cold, and then my podcasting host was giving me the blues about the audio file, so I eventually had to upload in a different format. I do hope this doesn’t affect your listening experience. Please let me know if it does!
Tears For Fears–specifically founders Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal–had been kicking around the music scene in the UK for a couple of years, and even had a pretty popular album over there before most people in the United States had even heard of them. (Which reminds me: yes, the story I tell about meeting Curt Smith is true. What I didn’t know at the time was that he was doing Seeds of Love publicity stuff solo because he and Orzabal had temporarily broken up the band.)
Even when it came time for the band to release a single in the United States, the label interceded and suggested that while “Shout” was a perfectly good song, it wouldn’t make for a very good debut song. They turned out to be right, and “Shout” was saved for later on, a move that turned the Songs from the Big Chair album, and Tears for Fears, into a huge success.
There’s more to the story, of course, but why waste it here when you can put it in your head? Either your podcatcher has it, or you’re gonna listen to/download it from here:
No episode next week; I’m taking a planned break. In two weeks, we’ll dig on some early Linda Ronstadt.
And of course, comments, tweets, FB notes, Instas–whatever. I love hearing from you!
Dan Aykroyd, who is well-known for being interested in parapsychology, came up with the idea of creating a comedy horror film in the tradition of the movie comedians he’d grown up watching. The first draft was a bit of a mess, but Aykroyd is a good egg in this respect and knows that he’s a better Idea Guy than a Polished Script Writer, so he handed off the project to director Ivan Reitman and a few others, and threw in some jargon and other ideas along the ride.
Reitman and his (and Aykroyd’s) agent Michael Ovits went to Columbia Pictures and, pulling a dollar figure out of a hat (roughly three times what Reitman spent on Stripes), got a budget of $25,000,000, which was HUGE for a comedy at that time. Columbia slated the film to open about a year later, which really put the team in a crunch position, especially since the script was still being re-written and there were lots of special effects to create.
So many things could have gone wrong and made the film a flop (in fact, Columbia execs thought so at first), but it caught on with audiences, and part of that success was the support it got from its theme song, written by Ray Parker Jr after several other musicians had either turned down the project, or given it a shot and found lacking. But his original 20-second effort (what he was commissioned for) excited Reitman so much that he convinced Parker to write a complete song, and he’d support it with a video. That video became only the second one featuring an African-American artist on MTV.
As I mention during the show, the video involved a lot of items painted on glass, and then the camera shot through the glass, giving everything a funky, ethereal look.
Glass shots were also popularly used in films as a cheap way of creating illusions that are more easily done nowadays with green screens and CGI imagery. In this shot from Star Wars below, only the walkway to the right (where the stormtroopers are standing) and the cone-shaped gizmo on which Obi-Wan Kenobi is standing is real and full-size. Everything else, including the pillar below the cone-shaped gizmo, is painted on a sheet of glass carefully placed in front of the camera. It’s like doing a matte shot on the cheap.
By now you should be seeing the show in your podcatcher, but if not, give it a listen or a download right here:
And, of course, leaving a rating wherever you get your shows is always appreciated.