Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stellar Soundtracks: One From the Heart

In 1982 Francis Ford Coppola, hot off the success of Apocalypse Now released a ‘new kind of old fashioned romance’, One From the Heart. The movie was typical Coppola: ahead of its time, lush production, innovative and not entirely successful.  According to the NY Times which like everyone gave the film a half hearted endorsement, One From the Heart in Coppola’s hands was like “Rembrandt painting Easter eggs.”

While the film fell flat Coppola delivered a soundtrack that thirty years on, is still as sharp as a tack.  He brought in Tom Waits, after falling in love with his duet with Bette Midler I Don’t Talk to Strangers, from his album Foreign Affairs.  Midler was unavailable so Waits selected rather unexpectedly, a straight ahead mainstream country singer, Crystal Gayle to be his alter ego.

It was a brilliant choice. The film tells the story of Hank and Frannie who don't seem to be able to live together anymore. After a five-year relationship, lustful and dreamy Fanny leaves down-to-earth Hank on the anniversary of their relationship. Each one of them meets their dream mate, but as bright as they may seem, they are but a stage of lights and colours. Will true love prevail over a seemingly glamorous passion?

Crystal Gayle and Tom Waits

Waits’s rusty slurred growling contrasts perfectly with Gayle’s water-clear crisply annunciated singing. Waits’s wonderful lyrics plumb the many bittersweet corners of love from frustration to bravado and from pleading to unadulterated joy.  The musical accompaniment is tasty too, with bluesy trumpet and forlorn sax and spinning coins.  Most amazing, I think though, is Crystal’s voice.  Not a hint of Nashville and absolutely at home with the late night blue smoky jazz Waits is so loved for.

It’s impossible to pick one track that stands out from the others. Each one is simply beautiful and so full of that crazy little thing called love.

The title track’s lyrics follow.

I should go out and honk the horn, it's Independence Day
But instead I just pour myself a drink
It's got to be love, I've never felt this way
Oh baby, this one's from the heart

The shadows on the wall look like a railroad track
I wonder if he's ever comin' back
The moon's a yellow stain across the sky
Oh baby, this one's from the heart

Maybe I'll go down to the corner and get a racin' form
But I should prob'ly wait here by the phone
And the brakes need adjustment on the convertible
Oh baby, this one's from the heart

The worm is climbin' the avocado tree
Rubbin' its back against the wall
I pour myself a double sympathy
Oh baby, this one's from the heart

Blondes, brunettes, and redheads put their hammer down
To pound a cold chisel through my heart.
But they were nothin' but apostrophes
Oh baby, this one's from the heart

I can't tell, is that a siren or a saxophone?
But the roads get so slippery when it rains
I love you more than all these words can ever say
Oh baby, this one's from the heart

This is a rich, fun and mellow album. Perfectly suited for the ragged end of a long year.

         Track Listing:
         01 Opening Montage: Tom's Piano Intro/Once Upon A Town
02 Is There Any Way Out Of This Dream
03 Picking Up After You
04 Old Boyfriends
05 Broken Bicycles
06 I Beg Your Pardon
07 Little Boy Blue
08 Instrumental Montage: The Tango/Circus Girl
09 You Can't Unring A Bell
10 This One's From The Heart
11 Take Me Home
12 Presents
Listen here.

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