Friday, June 07, 2024

Saturday 9

Saturday 9: Footloose (1984)

1) In this week's song, Kenny Loggins encourages everyone to lose their blues by dancing. What reliably shakes you out of a funk? Cuddling a cat.

2) To cut footloose, he has to kick off his "Sunday shoes." What's on your feet as you answer these 9 questions? Nothing. I'm barefoot and suddenly very aware of my chipped pedi.

3) This is the title song of the popular 1984 movie of the same name. It's so well-identified with the film that the AFI named it #96 of the top 100 movie songs of the last 100 years. Have you seen Footloose? Once. I didn't care for it much, one way or the other. I can still sing along with the soundtrack, though. "Let's Hear It for the Boy," "Almost Paradise," "Holding Out for a Hero." They were all very popular and ubiquitous on the radio.

4) The title of his 2022 memoir, Still Alright, was inspired by "I'm Alright," the song he wrote for the raucous golf comedy, Caddyshack. Do you play golf? (Yes, putt-putt miniature golf counts!) Do you watch it on TV? I don't get golf. I wish I did, because I admire the passion of those who are into it.

5) Thinking of movies, Kenny says watching Yankee Doodle Dandy when he was just 7 years old made him think performing looked like fun and says, "I knew deep inside this is something I could do." Do you recall when you set off on your chosen career? When I was a little girl, I used those wax paper squares made to separate hamburger patties. I'd trace pictures out of my Golden Books and make up my own stories. Then I'd staple the squares and announce I'd "written another book." So my mom was not surprised when I became a professional writer.

Where it all began.

5) Kenny grew up in Everett, Washington, north of Seattle and 84 miles from the Canadian border. Have you ever visited Canada? If yes, where did you go? Montreal when I was 8, Toronto when I was in my late 30s.

6) In 1977 Kenny struck up a friendship with Stevie Nicks, who was a source of encouragement and would sing with him on one of his biggest hits, "Whenever I Call You Friend." Tell us about when you met one of your best friends. At my first job as a writer, for the Sears catalog, I was given the cubicle next to John. He was an old-timer who had been there two years already. He came over to give me the keys to my file cabinet. My first assignment was to write about men's tube socks. "Why do I have to lock the drawer? Are we worried about spies from JC Penney's?" He knew then I had attitude and he liked me. Over our shared cubicle wall I saw a cardboard silhouette. I went into his cubicle and saw he'd taken a photo of Diana Ross (his goddess) sitting at a fashion show, cut it out, backed it with cardboard, and made a paper doll to "watch him work." I knew then he was an original and I liked him. We were dear friends for 43 years, until his death in April.

7) In 1984, when this song was a hit, Angela Lansbury premiered in Murder, She Wrote, a show still seen in reruns today. Were/are you a fan? Not really. I'll watch it if it shows up in the middle of the night when I can't sleep, or if I'm spinning the dial and see a guest star I recognize. 

Yes, that's a young George Clooney in Cabot Cove.

8) Let's tweak your memory about something else that happened in 1984. Without looking it up, can you recall why Michael Jackson's Pepsi commercial made headlines the world over? His hair caught on fire during filming.

9) Random question -- Think of your last professionally prepared meal. Did you dine in, carry out, or have it delivered? Carry out.


Judy Garland Blogathon: Judy's Influence on Barbra

I recently finished My Name Is Barbra, Streisand's epic autobiography, and was delighted to read how consistently positive Barbra was about Judy. Over the years I've read that Judy felt threatened by Barbra, or that Barbra dismissed Judy as irrelevant, but in Streisand's telling, none of that's true. Judy recognized Barbra's talent and was enthusiastic about working with her, and Barbra acknowledges Judy's exceptional skills as a performer and how open and welcoming the established star was to the newcomer. 

So if you're looking for juicy gossip about a feud, move along. There's nothing to see here. Not in my post, nor in Barbra's book. I'm going to concentrate on how Judy influenced Barbra and the younger woman's career trajectory.

Barbra appeared on The Judy Garland Show in October 1963. Considering Judy's career in the 1960s, I've always wondered: What If? What if Judy had a manager who cared about her, respected her talent, and took the long view of her career, the way Brian Epstein looked out for the Beatles and Marty Erlichman took care of Streisand. Marty discovered Barbra when she was just 18 and has been with her more than 60 super successful years. And it's Marty who made Barbra's historic appearance on The Judy Garland Show happen.

David Begelman and Freddie Fields were handling Judy at the time, and they wanted to bring young Barbra to their agency. They kept calling Marty, asking him what they'd have to do to "get Barbra." Marty said, "You get us The Judy Garland Show and you'll get Barbra." While Judy's show was not a hit, Marty was smart enough to know watching these two generational talents work together would get a tremendous amount of media attention. Barbra, just 21 and still in rehearsals for Funny Girl, could benefit enormously from being in Judy's spotlight. Judy was enthusiastic about sharing her stage with this hot new girl singer. As Mel Torme recalled in his book, "When Judy and Barbra met, it was instant warmth. I knew Garland would be on her toes all week to keep pace with this extraordinary girl."

Now for the legendary "Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy" Medley. Barbra included "Happy Days" on her first album. Listening to the LP in her dressing room, she began weaving her own song, "Get Happy," in with Barbra's. Judy requested that Mel Torme, musical director on the show, shape it into the duet that the two ladies so memorably performed.

Barbra recalls Judy as "completely generous." She was surprised that, when they performed together, Judy grabbed her hand and held on. At 21, Barbra didn't know why Judy was apparently so nervous during the taping. Now, 60 years later, she thinks she does. Barbra believes that Judy wasn't worried about her audience, but producers, money men and critics who often seem to just be waiting for artists to fail.

In 2012, I saw Barbra perform the "Happy Days/Get Happy" medley live onstage with her sister Roslyn Kind singing Judy's part. (Not as well as Judy, of course, but I was excited to hear it again all the same.)

Near the top of the charts in the autumn of 1964 was Barbra Streisand: The Third Album. You see Judy's influence the moment you pick it up. The photograph on the cover was taken by Judy's dear friend Roddy McDowell while Barbra was performing on The Judy Garland Show.

Caution!  In the early 1960s, Barbra threw a party and Judy surprised her by showing up. She didn't stay long but demonstrated why Barbra referred to her as "kind, truthful, supportive." Watching Barbra's career take off with gold records, award-winning TV specials and a starring role on Broadway, Judy warned the younger woman, "Don't let them do to you what they did to me."

A Star Is Born. Full disclosure: Judy's version is my very favorite, Barbra's is my least favorite. But I'm not going to debate that here. Nor am I going to compare and contrast. Instead I'm just going to point out that both Barbra and Judy performed in menswear-inspired outfits as Esther.

Esther Hoffman sings "Woman in the Moon"


Esther Blodgett sings "Gotta Have Me Go with You"

Again with the What If? Barbra has two Oscars. In fact, she's an EGOT. I am a Streisand super fan and celebrate her accomplishments.

But this all makes me wistful about Judy. What if she'd had the gift of time (Barbra has more than 30 years on Judy) and the benefit a role model, like she was for Barbra? How much more joy could she have given us, and enjoyed herself? At the end of My Name Is Barbra, Streisand is content with her life and happy in love. How I wish we could listen to Judy at 80, reflecting on her life and career.

More Judy here and here