I'm a sucker for musical biopics. I've probably seen all of them, even the bad ones like "Great Balls of Fire" (Dennis Quaid is more convincing in his Esurance commercials.) I liked "The Buddy Holly Story", which starred a pre-crazy Gary Busey. Coal Miner's Daughter is a classic and instituted my long-standing crush on Tommy Lee Jones. Needless to say, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is fabulous. "Walk The Line" is sort of not exactly true.
Today, there was absolutely nothing on TV nor in my DVR queue I wanted to watch, so I checked out the On Demand movies and found La Bamba. There was a time in the eighties when I subscribed to HBO, which liked to play the same movies over and over and over; and thus, I can pretty much recite the lines from La Bamba. That doesn't negate the fact that this is a really good movie. Even trusted source Rolling Stone (I say ironically) rates the movie as the fifth best music biopic of all time.
Like the other artists who inspired the "Day The Music Died" meme, Ritchie Valens was before my time. Over the years I'd heard La Bamba and Come On, Let's Go many times, but I'd never given a second thought to the artist who created the songs. Valens died at the young age of seventeen, which makes me sad, even all these years later. There've been far too many entertainers who've perished in plane crashes, and all of them hurt my heart ~ Jim Croce, Rick Nelson, Patsy Cline, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Otis Redding, John Denver, Buddy Holly, of course.
The movie La Bamba ensured that Ritchie Valens would not be forgotten.
It didn't hurt that Lou Diamond Phillips was cute (he hasn't aged badly, if you've ever caught an episode of Longmire). But his portrayal of Valens was captivating in its innocence mixed with swagger. The musical performances, actually voiced by Los Lobos, are pristine (credit the film's music editor).
Esai Morales, as Ritchie's brother Bob, cringingly overacted his role (Easi is now a much respected producer), which added a touch of okaaay to the viewing experience. Overall, the casting was excellent, from Ritchie's mom (Rosanna DeSoto) to Elizabeth Peña to Danielle von Zerneck as Donna.
Like everything that's dramatized, the actual music of the era wasn't as good as its recreation. But let's not quibble:
Here's the real Ritchie Valens:
I don't necessarily believe that one split-second decision alters the course of musical history, but if not for a coin flip, we would never have had Waylon Jennings. On the other hand, Buddy Holly would today be a musical elder, whose pronouncements on music we'd gobble up. I guess everything is of its time.
Remember VCR's? Well, of course you do.....unless you were born in 2005. Well, I bring it up because in 1987, I was still working second shift at the hospital, so in order to not miss the CMA awards broadcast, I'd need to set the old VCR timer and find an unused or unneeded tape to pop in. When one works second shift, it always seems like there's a whole bunch of stuff you're missing out on, but that's really just psychological. In actuality, the only show other than the CMA's that I really needed to see was St. Elsewhere.
Perhaps it was because I worked at a hospital, but maybe it was just a good show. St. Elegius - - St. Alexius. Their hospital was way more interesting than mine.
Of course, in 1987, there was the usual political stuff going on; Iran-Contra and negotiations with the Russians; you know, the usual stuff. But what's really important is POP CULTURE!
So, with that in mind, here's a hit song from 1987:
Yes, the world's greatest gift to hairspray, and to leather fringe jackets, Bon Jovi. And that whole flying out over the audience thing is cool! One of my favorite rock songs from the eighties.
Meanwhile, at the movies, we were enjoying:
The best part of the movie, La Bamba, of course, was Esai Morales, (over)playing the role of "Bob".
While there were a lot of memorable movies from 1987, nothing, to me, beats this one:
Starring of course, Patrick Swayze and a pre-cosmetic surgery Jennifer Grey, and of course, Detective Lennie Briscoe himself, Jerry Orbach.
Fred and Ginger be damned. Nobody puts Baby in a corner.
Is it just me, or were the late eighties the nadir of pop culture?
But I digress (as usual). Our main topic is the CMA awards of 1987. So let's kick things off.
The VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR award went to a new pairing in 1987; Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White. Now, not to be a stickler, but honestly, while they happen to be a married couple, Ricky and Sharon didn't record a whole lot of duets throughout the course of their careers. But Ricky happened to be a hot commodity at the time, so therefore, the CMA decided to spread the wealth a bit. So, therefore, we have our vocal duo of the year:
And you gotta love this video. As if they're just sitting around in their living room (note the lovely beige draperies), doing a jam session, with mics and with everyone facing forward, toward that imaginary audience. Cuz I know when I'm sitting around my living room, I always have everyone sitting side-by-side. Just in case there's a camera on us.
That new-fangled award, MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR, was once again bestowed upon Hank Williams, Jr., for a thoroughly forgettable song, My Name Is Bocephus. Seriously, I don't remember this song. Do you?
I guess music videos (in country) were in their infancy back then, and Hank Junior had the market cornered. Cuz really, there's nothing that stands out about this. But you be the judge:
The VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR was once again The Judds. As annoying as Naomi could be, with her flouncy red dress, and as dated as the "big hair" is, there's no mistaking that the Judds were icons of the late eighties. And here they are, along with their contingent of sparkly bedazzled fans, doing, "Give A Little Love":
Again, in 1987, Reba McEntire was named FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR. This is kind of a cool video, although chronologically incorrect (it was from 1989), but Reba seems to tend to only allow more recent videos to be posted on the net. And no offense, Reba, but you really should stick with the earlier videos, because curly perms aside, at least you looked "natural" then, if you get my drift.
Here's "Sunday Kind Of Love":
The INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR again was fiddlin' Johnny Gimble. You know, Johnny goes back a long way. He played with Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, so that's a loooong way back.
Here he is, fiddlin' for Connie Smith, on Pop Goes The Country, starring Ralph Emery, with special guest hosts, Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens (I just wanted to see how many country music legends I could fit into one sentence).
The HORIZON AWARD in 1987 went to Holly Dunn. Remember Holly Dunn? She was a pretty big deal in the late eighties. I liked her music. Wonder whatever happened to Holly. Well, here's her website: Holly Dunn
Holly is a full-time artist now (and not a "musical artist", but an actual "artist"). Well, good for her! Although, Holly, your website could use some work. Our website looks better than this, and we're nobodies. I'm just saying.
Anyway, enjoy a performance by Holly:
Luckily for me, I can tick off four awards here at one time! Because 1987 was really the year of Randy Travis. How so?
SONG OF THE YEAR - Forever And Ever, Amen - written by Paul Overstreet & Don Schlitz
SINGLE OF THE YEAR - Forever And Ever, Amen
ALBUM OF THE YEAR - Always And Forever
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR - Randy Travis
Here you go!
Isn't this a sweet video? Thanks, Randy Travis.
Well, that only leaves us the main award of the evening, ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR.
Guess who? No, not Randy Travis. It's our old friend, Hank Williams, Junior.
And here he is, with a jumpin' song; one that'll make you get up and dance. Enjoy!
So, you see, Hank wasn't just a one-shot wonder. Oh no. He wasn't just a video star. In 1987, Hank was the entertainer of the year! So, there you go. And thanks, Hank, for keepin' the conservative spirit alive.
HALL OF FAME
Rod Brasfield was a country comedian. It was sort of an expectation, way back when, that country music shows would include comedians. And Rod Brasfield followed in that tradition.
Here he is, with Cousin Minnie Pearl, performing a comedy routine.
I'm thinking, back then, that comedians were a big part of the whole country music entertainment extravaganza. Well, it was a different time. Me, I like country music for the music, but that doesn't negate the importance of these early pioneers, so hats off to Rod Brasfield, for helping to bring country music to the masses.
And there you go. From the ridiculous to the sublime, or vice versa. 1987. A good year for pop culture. Even country music was slowly making its way into the twentieth century.