Friday, October 5, 2012

The Ballad of Lori and Rod. And Billy. And Jon. Especially Jon.

I love a good story-song.
Or a good song-story.

Or whatever you want to call those songs where the lyrics were dramatic tales of young rebel couples, making it against the odds by bucking the system, disobeying their parent’s wishes, and often becoming teen mothers. Take THAT Mom and Dad!

I would listen to these teen rock ballads and create my own music videos in my head (with me in the “girlfriend” role – naturally) dancing, singing, and sometimes crying (seriously) like a madwoman while my Sony Walkman gave me level five eardrum damage.

I never did care much for that Jack and Diane – I don’t really want to hear about someone “sucking on a chili dog.” But these three particular songs still star me as the lead anytime I hear them on the radio.

Young Turks by Rod Stewart.
Ahhh, the first very dra-ma-tic song-story I remember loving from my youth....Young Turks tells the story of Billy and Patti. At the start of the song we learn that Billy has a dollar in his pocket as the young couple runs away from home together. By the end of the song Patti gives birth to a ten-pound baby boy. Hopefully Billy got himself a jobby-job. We also learn that they are not going to let anyone put them down/push them around/change their point of view.

In the music video, a chorus of West Side Story-style dancers follow Billy and Patti around, taunting adults by dancing on their cars while the adults shake their heads and fists at them. Rod Stewart looks exceptionally young and foxy in the video, so that sorta sealed the deal for me picturing Rod and myself in the starring roles as Billy and Patti. Oh - and there is also a weirdo break dancing and doing the robot on top of a roof throughout. Bonus!

Scenes From an Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel.
Oh lordy, grab a bottle of red and a bottle of white. Are you ready for this one? It exhausts me, but I still love it. Brenda and Eddie are the stars of this show, just being announced king and queen of the prom they certainly have a lot of promise. Adults doubt them but they sure showed everybody by getting that apartment, some paintings from Sears, and best of all, a waterbed!

Go Brenda and Eddie, go! You guys are doing great!

But…then…oh no…uh oh. In the same verse where they get the apartment and the waterbed they start to fight and end up getting a divorce. Shit! I don’t believe there is an official music video for this song, there would just be no way to fit in all of the frantic action and the decades it spans – Jesus, the song is like ten-minutes long - it warrants its own short film. But here is Billy, in all his glory in front of his piano. (Cue forward to around the three-minute-mark to get straight to the Brenda and Eddie saga - I told you this is loooong.)

Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi.
Of course I loved Jon Bon Jovi and had this poster of him on my bedroom wall back in the day:
Nice belt.

Livin’ on a Prayer is a true story. I mean Jon starts by dramatically saying, “Once upon a time, not so long ago."

What follows is the tale of Tommy and Gina; Tommy used to work on the docks but is apparently now having some trouble with his union. Gina has a crummy job at a diner and cries a lot at night. She should probably talk to somebody about that. Things aren’t great, but they gotta hold on to what they got.

The music video starts in black and white and consists of the band in rehearsal flying around on harnesses, horsing around with each other, waterfalls of sparklers falling from the ceiling, and grown men having gi-normous mall hair. Jon is also wearing that fringe-y leather jacket that I loved and wished I had for myself. Halfway through the video it’s like the Wizard of Oz where everything turns to color and the band is playing before an audience. Since there are no “characters” in this video so it was super easy for me to plug myself into the Gina role (nice Italian girl) and picture myself bringing my heard earned money home to Tommy (Jon) every night.

So - basically I have cast myself in the role of star-crossed young lover to Rod Stewart and Jon Bon Jovi.

Billy Joel, I cast a young Kristy McNichol as your girlfriend.
We can totally still be friends.

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