April 10, 2007

‘Cause we could be happy can’t you see

The other night I plunked down with some popcorn (we really wanted pizza but IT WAS SNOWING) and the DVD of That Thing You Do, Tom Hanks’ paean to the starry-eyed musical hit machine of the 1960s and one likeable group’s rollercoaster rise to stardom.

Mostly I thought to pick it up again because of the Scripture-quoting Chris Isaak cameo (blink and you miss it, but it always makes me smile) and the toe-tapping bubblegum tunes, but doing what I do now (for sport, this blogging business) I have to admit that I found the whole plotline about how the music industry “used to” work to be very interesting. Sure, all those staid mechanisms are still grinding along, but I was excited by all the avenues that exist for new music today. You no longer have to sign with a big glittery major label to have your work heard, or sit and hope that a major radio show plays your stuff as they did in this film (although they were pretty proactive in making their own records). I know the movie is all fictional, but hey — I think about these things.

I’ve always considered the title song “That Thing You Do” to be a bit of a guilty pleasure, although pleasurable as anything to drum along with, to with all the rat-tat-tat beats and sugar sweet harmonies. I’d never examined its musical pedigree before, but was thrilled to see that it was actually penned (along with two other songs from the movie) by Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, and sung by Mike Viola. Now I can feel just a bit better about its lineage — even though most of the other soundtrack songs were written by Tom Hanks. Really? He must be a serious music geek, there were definitely elements of that uberfandom in the film, like with Guy’s geek dream jam session with fictional jazz musician Del Paxton. You couldn’t help but feel all happy inside with that scene, and ponder who you would want to stumble upon your noodling in the studio and sit in to lay down some tape with you.

It’s been so long since I’ve seen this movie (last time I watched it I believe I still had a serious crush on Johnathan Schaech) so I forgot that it boasts one of the best movie pickup lines that you can watch in front of your grandma, penned in great quotable sense of old black and white movies:

When was the last time you were decently kissed? I mean truly, truly good and kissed?”

It makes women of all ages swoon, in very PG way. I dug up a few tunes to enjoy from the manufactured imaginary world of girl groups and doo-wop quartets of yesteryear in the soundtrack.

Voyage Around The Moon – The Saturn 5
(I thought for sure Chris Isaak was playing on this jangly surf delight. I was wrong)

Shrimp Shack – Cap’n Geech And The Shrimp Shack Shooters
(“Good news guys. You get to keep the clothes.”)

She Knows It – The Heardsmen

That Thing You Do – The Wonders

CONCERT ALERT (for my Colorado brethren):
Rocky Votolato at the Black Sheep tonight! Recommended artist, I’ll be there. Oakland, CA’s Street To Nowhere opens.

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  • I love music for the film. I saw the movie 2 times in theaters just to hear the songs again. Fountains of Wayne are one of my faves. And this movie also got me into the Candy Butchers. Mike Viola was the signer on That Thing You Do.

    Salohcin — April 10, 2007 @ 8:09 pm

  • The Oneders!

    I love this movie, and it would probably be one of my favorites if not for the character of the bellhop, who might as well have been named Steppin Fetchit.

    Dave Lifton — April 10, 2007 @ 8:37 pm

  • I have seen this movie more than a few times, but it wasn’t until the most recent time that I was watching when I realized that Chris Isaak was in it.

    j.d. — April 10, 2007 @ 8:43 pm

  • The movie is great fun and definitely a guilty pleasure because of its hymn to the romance of the Beatles – the saviours of hupe after the death of JfK.There are Beatle references in this wonderful and true song by the Scottish pop minstrel Mr.R Frame. Go on Heather give him a listen and a post in the future! I am just a fan whose seen him three times this year and am deeply frustrated that he doesn’t have a wider audience.His songs are amongst the most unabashedly romantic ever written. That needs recognition!(worlds within worlds from Western Skies)

    Worlds in Worlds

    I’ve wiped my phone and I’ve grown my hair
    And thrown away the stuff that we used to share
    Delete. I submerge. Nothing is what it seems

    I close my eyes and I drift on a terrible, beautiful sound
    like John Mckay’s on the Scream and I dream and I rise

    And looking down through the clouds I see those worlds in worlds
    Of love and tears and blame
    And I can see that those worlds in worlds are held apart
    By fears that feel the same

    Everything I own is a mockery of the way I believe we
    could be if we could only be free of the dark, needy shadow
    walking behind

    A newborn cry rises over the town
    Unsettles the sky and sets the rain falling down on a
    crowd by a grave and so it goes round

    And it’s a silly little game
    That we play to hide the pain
    What is there to gain?
    We’ll, just win anyhow
    But babe there’s something happening here
    And if you can’t find your fear
    It’s plain that you will hear the same old sad refrain
    The same song, many years from now

    Anonymous — April 11, 2007 @ 4:41 am

  • did you ever see that movie “hush” with johnathan schaech and he marries/or is marrying gwyneth paltrow? and jessica lange is a psycho? (literally). that is the worst movie ever. in a good way. it’s embarassingly bad. he is a hottie, though.

    c — April 11, 2007 @ 7:40 am

  • Mike Viola not only voiced Jimmy from The Wonders but cowrote “That thing you do” with Adam.

    You must must must check out Mike Viola and his Candy Butchers stuff as well.

    Also for those who are geeks for this movie a Double DVD reissue is due out on May 8th with loads of extras and behind the scenes footage.

    Billie Jo — April 11, 2007 @ 10:47 am

  • …..I believe I still had a serious crush on Johnathan Schaech…

    You mean it ends? I don’t want it to ever end. Tom Everett Scott (aka Shades), too….I saw him a few months ago on Broadway in Little Dog Laughed, and from the third row. There was no singing, but he did have his wiener out.

    Michael — April 11, 2007 @ 6:47 pm

  • Im 99.9% sure that only Adam Schlesinger wrote the song “that thing you do!” I never heard of Mike Viola ever writting that song with him or any other songs.
    I do know that Mike sings backing vocals on one of the new songs on the Fountains of Wayne album. I got it yesterday and it GREAT!!! I love it.

    Nikol — April 12, 2007 @ 12:52 pm

  • i used to watch this movie on vh1..it used to be repeated all the time! and i love the main song! thanks!

    Anonymous — April 12, 2007 @ 6:43 pm

  • I am also pretty sure that Mike Viola had some input on the writing of the song … he and Adam Schlesinger worked together a lot at that time and I was thrilled to see the collaboration, small as it was, on the new FOW CD …

    I ditto/thritto/whatever anyone who suggests checking out Mike Viola either solo or Candy Butchers mode (which is still essentially Mike Viola) … he has several new projects in the works as well as a CD “Making Up Time” of a lot of old CB tunes …

    He will be the featured artist this week on XM Radio’s “Living Room to the Loft” on Sunday April 15 at 6 p.m., Tuesday at 11 .m. and one other replay date I can’t recall .. Channel 50. I was there. It was amazing PLUS the added benefit that he shared residency that month with Jim Boggia who is also awesome.

    “That Thing You Do” is the one single thing I can point to that made my daughter, then 7, decide to become a musician … believe it or not, I am truly grateful for that epiphany.

    HijinksAndSue — April 14, 2007 @ 6:40 am

  • Heather, I just have to fourth or fifth all the Mike Viola/Candy Butchers recommendations. Start with the 2004 CD “Hang On Mike”…

    Phil — April 14, 2007 @ 5:09 pm

  • Great CD!!! I also heard that Mike Viola voiced most of the Wonders songs… but…

    The credits for the cool Wonders toons on the TTYD CD list S. Rogness and R. Elias.

    Who’r these guys?

    leesa — August 29, 2008 @ 12:55 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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