Thursday, November 17, 2005

I'm a Sucker for Soft Rock

And I don't care who knows it.

The 1970's were, of course, the golden age of Soft Rock (and Hard Rock too, I suppose.) That great decade also saw the flowering of American Avant Garde cinema and the death of the old studio system, creating an amazing string of bold new film masterpieces. It was the era of the hairy chest - Redford was a god, but really it was best to be a Jew (Spielberg, Hoffman, Allen, Gould, etc.) The Italians did alright as well.

These tracks are not from the best films nor are they the very best songs. But, in my mind at least, they call up the era so clearly that I always enjoy. Plus, as I said before, I'm a sucker for the Soft Rock.

Johnny Mandel - Suicide Is Painless

Robert Altman's blacker than black Korean War spoof features a beautiful but disturbing ditty about the merits of suicide.

Keith Carradine - I'm Easy
Also directed by Altman, Nashville (in part) was an expose of the madness of the commercial country music industry. This tune (which won the best song Oscar for Keith Carradine in 1975) is, on the surface, a sweet and giving love song. Within the context of the film, we see how phony the singer is...the heart on the sleeve routine is just another ploy by a notoriously selfish bastard. This always makes me think of guys like James Taylor, who sang so mellow while he were jacked on heroin and beating the shit out of his wife...

The Spy Who Loved Me:
Carly Simon - Nobody Does It Better
Speaking of James Taylor's wife, Carly Simon is surely one of the queens of the Soft Rock. This song is all sugar, even if the Roger Moore Bond movie it is pulled from is pretty average.

Play Misty for Me:
Roberta Flack - The First Time Ever I saw Your Face
Clint Eastwood's directorial debut is a stylish and scary thriller, but this tune by Roberta Flack pops up in a strange running-through-the fields love montage, complete with waving grass, rugged beaches and lens flares. It's an unforgettable bit, due to its strange placement in the film and the intense power of the song. This made Flack into a star.

The Eyes Of Laura Mars:
Barbara Streisand - Prisoner: Eyes Of Laura Mars
No actress starred in more great films in Hollywood in the 70's than Faye Dunaway: Chinatown, Bonnie & Clyde, Three Days of The Condor, Little Big Man, Network. Laura Mars should have been amazing; directed by Irvin Kershner (Empire Strikes Back,) written by John Carpenter, it tells the story of a controversial fashion photographer who is having psychic visions of murders and using her visions as inspiration for her bloody and artsy photo shoots. Of course, the public eats it up. All set in late 70's high fashion, coke-happy NYC. Sounds good right? Eh. Not really. But what a drama bomb of a tune from Babs!


  • At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm Easy... great pick... I was so happy when the Nashville soundtrack finally came out on CD.. but the sparse version in the movie is much better and moodier... cheers


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