Saturday, May 23, 2015

Music for the Opening Credits of an Early ’90s Movie About Los Angeles

I have a song I listen to when I’m driving through Los Angeles around sunset (though not necessarily around Sunset), and I remember for a second that these streets I dread are also the streets I’d seen a thousand times in the movies and TV shows I grew up watching. Ask me if I want to drive near Hollywood Boulevard around rush hour, and I’d reflexively say, “Oh, God. Fuck. Christ. No.” But were I to actually find myself there, stuck in traffic either as a result of my own poor planning or someone else’s, I might take a moment and say, “Holy hell, I actually live here,” and bask in that for a moment, traffic be damned. People willingly come here on vacation, just to see this junky stuff that I take for granted and go out of my way to avoid. That’s worth remembering.

Anyway, this one song is the instrumental version of a Giorgio Moroder collaboration with Human League frontman Philip Oakey. I only heard it for the first time recently, but when I did, it immediately reminded me of so many movies from the late ’80s or early ’90s where L.A. streets, soaked with sun but slammed with cars, are used to set a scene. I always think of it as opening credits, but it could just as easily be closing credits or some montage from the middle.

The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial kickoff to summer, seemed like as sensible as any day to post. Here, have a listen.

The footage you see comes from this YouTube clip titled “Los Angeles in the ’80s.” There’s also a version of the song with lyrics and vocals by Oakey, but it’s the instrumental version that makes me think of the movie score to some halfway forgotten VHS rental where characters go to fancy Hollywood parties, take in the lights as if they’re seeing them for the first time, and finally learn a lesson about life and living.

Is it just that it sounds like that one song from the Pretty Woman soundtrack? Which itself always reminded me of the Gracie Films logo? Which itself is something I associate very strongly with the Simpsons episodes of the late ’80s and early ’90s?

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