Tag Archives: Skeeter Davis

Bad Beach

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The beach is fun, but sometimes you go to the beach and have a not okay time. Here are some songs which harp on just that occasion. 

 

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I’ve always loved this Four Seasons song off of their “folk” record Born To Wander, which also capitalizes on the burgeoning surf music scene. One minute, the boy’s surfing with his girl, and the next, the angry sea is taking her away. And so, naturally, no surfin’ today, or ever again for that matter. There are great sound effects in this track, and I love the part where the sea “rages” up.

No Surfin’ Today- The 4 Seasons

 

any day now lpd

 

This Legendary Pink Dots song, from the album 1988 Any Day Now, portrays a nice moment between a couple sharing a coat on a cold beach. But then something ominous and atmospheric has to happen, and there’s nothing left but sand.

Laguna Beach- Legendary Pink Dots

 

sun

 

This Skeeter track is great. She goes through a great checklist of things to bring to the beach (I understand a good paperback but lipstick, Skeeter? Really? Seems like a bad idea). But most important, she can’t forget her sunglasses. Because she’s going to the beach with a bunch of beach supplies and a broken heart. She needs those sunglasses to cry behind and die behind, while her man macks on another girl. 

I really feel this song. I’m always bringing way too much shit to the beach. Next time I’m just bringing a towel and two cases of beer, that’s it. Hold me to it, friends. 

Sunglasses- Skeeter Davis

 

patti

 

I was listening to “Redondo Beach” for the billionth time the other day but I’d never taken much note of the lyrics. Patti Smith said in an interview that the song began as a poem she wrote when her sister disappeared from their NYC apartment for a day or two. But quite literally, the lyrics are about two lovers having a quarrel: one leaving the hotel room, and the other going to look for the former later, only to find that the big stir going on at the beach was a drowning. Of their lover. 

Patti was always playing with gender, but here again-  as in “Gloria”-  we’ve got a lesbian love affair. Which is cool. 

Redondo Beach (demo)- Patti Smith

 

I was a little worried this might happen to me after watching this movie as a kid. Jaws didnt’ really scare me, but this…man.

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Help Me Make It Through The Night

 

I first remember hearing “Help Me Make It Through the Night” when I watched John Huston’s Fat City, though I can’t imagine I hadn’t heard it before in some form. Kris Kristofferson’s song has been recorded by many artists, but was the biggest hit for “outlaw” country singer Sammi Smith. Her version was on the Billboard country charts for 33 weeks in 1971. 

“Outlaw” country, spinning out of the Bakersfield sound popularized by hard-asses like Merle Haggard, was a rejection of the “countrypolitan” pop sound so prevalent in Nashville. Songwriters like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings grew their hair long and moved back to Texas, embracing folk music and rock & roll. Sammi Smith, a heavy smoker, had a husky voice, and the nerve to record a song that explored a woman’s desire for sex through the long, lonely night. It hardly seems controversial, but context, people, context! Most popular country songs sung by women at the time were about kicking your husband out of the house for being plastered. Or standing by your man. 

Help Me Make It Through the Night

Smith’s career waned in the late-70s and early-80s. She moved to Arizona, where she became a proponent of Native American issues, and died in 1995 of smoking-related illness. Here she is in the flesh (well, youtube flesh) singing her biggest hit.

Gladys Knight and the Pips went to #2 on the pop charts with their take of the song a year later. I love the spoken word intro: “I’m imagining a lot of happy people. And most of you are with someone you love. Well, you are the lucky ones. All over the world there are lots of people who are alone tonight. I imagine most of us have been in that situation at one time or another. I know I have. Recently I heard a most beautiful song with a dynamic lyric that really expresses this feeling of loneliness. It means a lot to me personally, and I’d like to share it with you. I think you’ll see what I mean…”

Help Me Make It Through the Night

Kris Kristofferson began writing songs while a Rhodes scholar at Oxford. After earning a masters in Engish Literature, and a stint in the army as a helicopter pilot, he moved to Nashville to make it as a songwriter. After 5 years he had recorded a solo album, and began to have some success selling his songs, including Janis Jopin’s posthumous version of “Me and Bobby McGee.” They had been lovers before her death. Here’s Kristofferson duetting with his former wife, Rita Coolidge. My dad always thought she was pretty. Her, and Lindsay Wagner, of Bionic Woman fame. 

Here are some other great versions of the song.

Joan Baez, off her 1971 album Blessed Are…:

Help Me Make It Through the Night

Loretta Lynn, from her 1971 album I Wanna Be Free:

Help Me Make It Through the Night

The top ten UK hit for John Holt:

Help Me Make It Through the Night

Tammy Wynette, from Another Lonely Song:

Help Me Make It Through the Night

Skeeter Davis, from the album Skeeter:

Help Me Make It Through the Night

Wilie Nelson, from Willie Nelson Sings Kristofferson:

Help Me Make It Through the Night

Johnny and June Cash helping each other make it through the night:

Lastly, the opening of Fat City. The song choice is appropriate lyrically, as the film begins with Stacy Keach, playing a washed-up boxer, lying in his skid row SRO bed with a hard-on. Throwing a cigarette in his mouth, he fruitlessly searches the room for a match to light his cigarette. The only impetus to leave the room is to get a light. Otherwise, you feel he’d lie there all day, except he’s also low on booze.

The film is set and shot in Stockton, CA, and is rather verite for a narrative film. The cinematographer Conrad Hall filmed the opening montage shots of Stockton’s decaying downtown from a van. This allowed him to go unnoticed as he shot down-on-their-luck residents loitering on the sidewalks and in doorways. Many scenes were filmed using existing light; there are great dim bar scenes shot during the day with minimal to no tungsten lighting. If you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve got to, if just to see Susan Tyrell’s performance as the most annoying yet heartbreaking drunk ever committed to celluloid.

I used to sit in bed next to my crippled grandfather and watch Keach as Mike Hammer. I didn’t know if I had a crush on Mike Hammer or wanted to be him. I took it personally when Stacy Keach was arrested for cocaine possession in 1984. My hero! I remember my brother and sister making jokes about it. 1984 was the first year I really remember watching the news. I have clear memories of Indira Gandhi being assassinated, and Marvin Gaye being murdered by his father.