Summer Romances, Dirty Dancing and “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life”

Following on from yesterday’s post about the melancholy that comes with the approach of autumn, I have now had time to think about this a bit more. Back at the beginning of June, I wrote about the euphoria I still feel at that time of year due to some long-lasting Pavlovian response to the fact that exam season is over, the long school holidays are upon us and a summer of possibility awaits. Of course it’s years now since I’ve had to sit heavy-duty exams, I only get two weeks annual leave (if I’m lucky) and as for possibilities, not so much. Life is good but it’s just not full of those emotional highs and lows you experience in your youth, but the feeling is still there.

Well yesterday, I think I felt that same euphoria, but in reverse – That feeling we had in our youth when summer was over. Again it’s a long time since I’ve started a new academic year but we must be hard-wired into remembering how it felt – That those carefree days of summer are over for another year. Suddenly our clothes seem ridiculous, as despite the still reasonable temperatures (even in the North of Scotland), it gets dark early, and it feels wrong to be dressed in sundresses and sandals.

theend.jpg

Like most female students back in the day, I used to head off to work in hotels for the summer and romances were invariably kindled with local boys (much to the chagrin of the local girls). In June these dalliances were new and exciting but by September it was obvious that they were not sustainable and had to end, but there was still a tinge of sadness and regret. Perhaps this is why musicals like Dirty Dancing and Grease are still so popular, as they remind ladies of a certain age, of the summer they fell for their Johnny Castle or Danny Zuko.

Olivia and John reminisced about their Summer Nights in 1978, and Don Henley sang of the end of summer in his 1985 hit Boys Of Summer. This time he is the boy left behind whilst the girl is having summer flings, but he is in it for the long-haul and is determined to get her back. Bryan Adams wrote about the Summer of ’69 and in 2008 Kid Rock mashed-up Warren Zevon’s Werewolves Of London with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama to tell the coming of age tale All Summer Long.

But hey, I’m a girl, and it’s the end of the summer, so I just want to yet again revisit that scene at the end of Dirty Dancing where dismissed dance coach Johnny makes a triumphant return, and tells yesterday’s featured artist Jerry Orbach (there’s the link), that “Nobody puts Baby in a corner”. For some reason I seem to have more male than female blog followers in which case I am truly sorry for posting this particular bit of nostalgia, but considering how many brides nowadays want their first dance to be like the one in this scene, it seems that a few dancing lessons might be just what is needed to sweep the lady of your dreams off their feet – literally!

(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes:

(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life Lyrics
(Song by John DeNicola/Donald Markowitz/Franke Previte)

Now I’ve had the time of my life
No I never felt like this before
If I swear it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you
‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life
And I owe it all to you

I’ve been waiting for so long
Now I’ve finally found someone
To stand by me
We saw the writing on the wall
As we felt this magical
Fantasy

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 just remember

You’re the one thing
I can’t get enough of
So I’ll tell you something
This could be love because

I’ve had the time of my life
No I never felt this way before
Yes I swear it’s the truth
And I owe it all to you

With my body and soul
I want you more than you’ll ever know
So we’ll just let it go
Don’t be afraid to lose control, no
Yes I know what’s on your mind
When you say “Stay with me
Tonight.” Just remember

You’re the one thing
I can’t get enough of
So I’ll tell you something
This could be love because

‘Cause I had the time of my life
And I’ve searched through every open door
Till I’ve found the truth
And I owe it all to you

Johnny, Baby and “She’s Like The Wind”

Don’t know what’s happened to me – Since inadvertently revisiting the movie Dirty Dancing when writing about the Ronettes in my last post, I have been unable to stop listening to the soundtrack. I’m behaving like a silly teenager with a crush! The Patrick Swayze song She’s Like The Wind has always been a favourite of mine and the lyrics perfectly fitted the movie’s storyline. But here’s the thing – It was always a given that Johnny wasn’t good enough for Baby and that at the end of the holiday, she would head off to college and then join the Peace Corps (it was the sixties). It became clear however in the course of the movie that her father’s assessment of young men was not infallible (he disapproved entirely of the honourable dancer Johnny but was happy to sponsor the womanising student Robbie). The theme of clever, sensible, middle-class girls falling for “bad boys” is an eternal one and every generation of parents dread this happening to their daughters – Think how the Air Force Officer father of Priscilla Beaulieu must have felt when at 14 she fell in love with Elvis Presley, and moved to Graceland to live with him at age 17.

She’s Like The Wind by Patrick Swayze:

I would like for once however, to see how things would have turned out if the movie had kept rolling – Love is a powerful thing and parents are not always right. I know of many couples who stood firm against parental disapproval and have gone on to have long and successful marriages. Johnny didn’t have the great start in life that Baby obviously had been privilege to, but he was incredibly talented and personable. With the right girl by his side he could have gone far in the entertainment business, or become the proprietor of a dance academy!

dirty

We know that Danny and Sandy headed off in his systematic, hydromatic car at the end of Grease but what happened then? I would like to think they went on to great things with Danny running his own chain of “Greased Lightening” garages and the two of them producing a brood of Italian-Australian babies.

In West Side Story, Maria was never going to be allowed to have any sort of relationship with Tony from the “Jets”. Her brother, the leader of the “Sharks” would never have allowed it, but for Tony to lose his life because of it was one of the saddest and most tragic moments in film history – I am pretty sure they would have made a great couple and lived a long and happy life if family disapproval hadn’t got in the way. (I did struggle a bit with Richard Beymer’s portrayal of a tough, gang-member but those beautiful songs balanced it out.)

I have written about Buffy and Angel before and how their relationship had to end despite their “perfect happiness” but what if it hadn’t? In Highlander, the wife of the immortal Connor MacLeod, his bonnie Heather, grew old whilst he always stayed the same age – She didn’t understand why he stayed with her, but he did because he loved her, right up until her death.

Yes a theme as old as life itself, and despite wanting to hope for the best with all these relationships, would I be as open-minded if my daughter brought one of these “bad-boys” home? I would like to think that I would as I trust her judgement, but not easy, as the Beaulieus of Wiesbaden, Germany must have found in 1959 when Elvis came a-callin’!

images

She’s Like The Wind
(Song by Patrick Swayze/Stacy Widelitz)

She’s like the wind
Through my tree
She rides the night
Next to me

She leads me through moonlight
Only to burn me with the sun
She’s taken my heart
But she doesn’t know what she’s done

Feel her breath in my face
Her body close to me
Can’t look in her eyes
She’s out of my league

Just a fool to believe
I have anything she needs
She’s like the wind

I look in the mirror
And all I see
Is a young old man
With only a dream
Am I just fooling myself
That she’ll stop the pain?
Living without her
I’d go insane!

The Ronettes, Phil Spector and “Be My Baby”

Following on from my last post when I wrote about Amy Winehouse’s album “Back to Black”, her image at that time was very much taken from the American girl groups of the early ’60s. The most famous and recognisable of these was probably The Ronettes of Be My Baby fame.

Be My Baby by The Ronettes:

Now I would be lying if I said that I remembered this song from 1963 when it was first released, but it is one of those songs you will have heard throughout your entire life, popping up on the radio and on film soundtracks. Phil Spector, who produced the record, was an innovator and in the early 60s created his now infamous “wall of sound” as a backdrop to the sultry vocals of singers like Veronica (Ronnie) Bennett of The Ronettes and Darlene Love. This new approach to recording included using whole string and horn sections, as well as guitars and drums. The use of echo chambers and multiple tracking was also involved which basically meant that the sound was re-recorded over a demo of the previous recording many times, building up the cacophony of sound that became his trademark.

ronettes

Phil Spector is one of only a few producers who became more famous than many of the artists he worked with and because the “wall of sound” was so clearly associated with him, he was able to release successful albums of his label’s greatest hits under his own name. I bought these two albums in the mid ’80s when they were re-released – Phil Spector’s Greatest Hits & Phil Spector’s Christmas Album. They are still a joy to listen to today and with so few new Christmas songs being released nowadays, his seasonal album has become a staple in our house around that time of year.

In 1987, a low-budget film called Dirty Dancing was released starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. Not ever expected to be a big hit, it has become one of the most well-loved films of all time and was the first movie to sell over a million copies on home video. As I have written elsewhere in the blog, adding the “music of the era” to a film soundtrack is a really effective tool and none more so than in the case of Dirty Dancing which was essentially a romantic drama, set in a 1963 holiday resort in the Catskill Mountains.

Be My Baby was used extensively as were other tracks from that year along with a whole load of new ones specially written for the movie. For some reason I didn’t see it when it first came out, but like most people my age, I have since bought the DVD and CD. I remember watching it with my daughter one Bank Holiday Monday and unlike when it came out in 1987, when I was in my late 20s, I felt real nostalgia for all those holiday experiences that Baby was going through. This has happened before when watching movies with my daughter – It seems that you have to be at least a generation removed to feel that emotion. At 27, I was neither young enough or old enough for that to happen. I would wager that the people who enjoyed that movie best when it came out, were either born circa 1970 (they could empathise) or 1950 (they could reflect nostalgically). Of course there are also all those people who would have enjoyed looking back at the music, fashions and social mores of that early sixties period but they would have been war babies and I don’t think that the film was aimed at that demographic when it came out.

dd
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey partaking in some Dirty Dancing!

Wouldn’t be a blog post if I didn’t mention someone who had passed away and it is sad to think that the the vital, energetic, handsome Patrick Swayze (dancer Johnny Castle in the movie) is no longer with us. Jennifer Grey is still very much with us, however her appearance has changed so much since her days of playing Baby, that I now wouldn’t recognise her. Looking back, her nose was perhaps on the large side but after having it “done”, her film career was pretty much over. A case of perhaps best to have left well alone? Who knows but yet again I end with the familiar three letter acronym – RIP, Patrick.

Be My Baby Lyrics
(Song by Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich/Phil Spector)

The night we met I knew I needed you so
And if I had the chance I’d never let you go
So won’t you say you love me
I’ll make you so proud of me
We’ll make ’em turn their heads every place we go

So won’t you, please
(Be my, be my baby) Be my little baby
(My one and only baby) Say you’ll be my darlin’
(Be my, be my baby) Be my baby now
Wha-oh-oh-oh

I’ll make you happy, baby, just wait and see
For every kiss you give me, I’ll give you three
Oh, since the day I saw you
I have been waiting for you
You know I will adore you ’til eternity