Saturday, February 1, 2020

"Light of Day" by The Barbusters (Joan Jett & the Blackhearts)

Song#:  3030
Date:  02/21/1987
Debut:  91
Peak:  33
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Rock, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Jett had been in the music business since the mid-70s and became a major star in the 80s scoring hits with her band The Blackhearts. This afforded her other opportunities including a chance to act. Initially reluctant to play a rock musician for her first foray into acting, Jett agreed to appear in the Paul Schrader drama Light of Day alongside Michael J. Fox. The pair would play brother and sister who were looking for stardom via their local Cleveland rock band called The Barbreakers. Of course, there would be family drama along the way courtesy of their mother portrayed by Gena Rowlands. The band in the film, made up of Jett, Fox, Michael McKean (guitarist from This Is Spinal Tap), Paul Harkins, and Michael Dolan, actually rehearsed and performed songs in the film including this title track. However, for the soundtrack album, this tune was re-recorded by Jett along with the Blackhearts. It was issued out as a single and got to #13 Rock while cracking the Pop Top 40. The song along with the film helped the soundtrack (which also featured music from Bon Jovi, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Dave Edmunds) get to #82.

ReduxReview:  This is a pretty good rip rocker from Springsteen (see below) and Jett does a solid job with it. It sounds like a retro 60s rock track amped up for the 80s. It was certainly much better and more commercial leaning than the tunes Jett had been pushing out over the previous few years. In some ways, I think this song put Jett on the map again and she would take advantage of it with her next album to great effect. The movie's casting had people at odds. Some thought Fox was miscast, others didn't. Same with Jett. It was not a great film either way. I didn't buy into Fox being a blue collar guy in a rock band. It didn't work for me. However, I thought Jett was surprisingly good. The film is watchable thanks to her and Gena Rowlands. Otherwise, meh. The best thing from it all was this song, which Springsteen thought highly enough of to include in many of his concerts.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song was written by Bruce Springsteen and given the Paul Schrader to use in the film. The story goes that Schrader originally wrote the screenplay earlier in the 80s and titled it Born in the U.S.A. He apparently passed it to Springsteen a) to verify his portrayal of a working class family, b) as a possible acting project for Springsteen, c) to write a song for the film, or d) all of the above (as accounts of what happened vary). Springsteen didn't bite at the project, but the title got to him and he ended up writing what would be the title track to his mega-hit album Born in the U.S.A. (Springsteen thanked Schrader in the LP's liner notes). A few years later, Schrader finally got back to his screenplay and got it green-lit to make. By that time, Schrader couldn't use his original title. Springsteen felt bad about that and offered up one of his other tunes to Schrader. Originally titled "Just Around the Corner to the Light of Day," Springsteen had recorded a demo of the tune as a possible track for Born in the U.S.A. The song worked for Schrader who also wanted to use it as the title of the film. However, it make it more palatable to movie goers, the song and movie title were shortened.  2) After establishing himself as a viable comedic lead in two 1985 hit films, Back to the Future and Teen Wolf, Michael J. Fox wanted to show his dramatic side and took the role in Light of Day. In a Rolling Stone article, it seems that Fox was approached for the role due in part to his popularity, but also because he had a resemblance to the person who was originally wanted for the sister role, singer Fiona. She ended up not working out for some reason and Jett was brought on board. The film came out to mixed reviews and it didn't do all that well at the box office. Fox would return to comedy later in '87 with the hit flick The Secret of My Success.


No comments:

Post a Comment