Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Electric Light Orchestra -- "Long Black Road" (2001)

Boy, you ain't going nowhere
With your cheap guitar 
And your big long hair

"Big long hair"?  What exactly does that mean?

Let's be honest.  "Big long hair" doesn't exactly trip off the tongue.  I have to think that Jeff Lynne threw in "big" simply because he was a syllable short of a full load in that line.

Jeff Lynne and his big long hair
Lynne is a songwriter and composer, an arranger, a singer, a multi-instrumentalist, and a record producer.  

He is best known for his work with the Electric Light Orchestra (a/k/a "ELO"), which released a dozen studio albums and sold over 50 million records worldwide.  But he was also a highly regarded record producer, who produced records for such musical luminaries as Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Randy Newman, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty.

Lynne wrote most of ELO's big hits, including "Evil Woman," "Strange Magic," "Turn to Stone," "Mr. Blue Sky," and "Don't Bring Me Down."  Believe it or not, I know people who don't like his music -- which seems totally perverse to me.

But I know people who don't like Pink Floyd and think "MacArthur Park" is a bad song.  I know, I know -- it's hard to believe.  But there are a lot of folks out there who wouldn't know a good record if it walked up and bit 'em on the ass.  (Go figure.)

I heard "Long Black Road" for the first time recently.  It's featured in the closing credit sequence of the fabulous new movie, American Hustle.  

Christian Bale is an almost sure bet to be nominated for a "Best Actor" nomination for his work in American Hustle.  And I'm guessing that Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence (who has come a l-o-n-g way since Winter's Bone) will be nominated for "Best Actress" and "Best Supporting Actress" Oscars.

Amy Adams
Jennifer Lawrence
David Russell, who directed American Hustle, incorporates popular music into his movie soundtracks in order to bring about certain emotions in the audience:.

I think songs are like magic potions. . . . You have to use them properly, but they can be very enchanting if used in the right way at the right time.  When combined with a performance by an actor and the turn of a narrative, that's like the trifecta as the story and the emotion and the character and the music are all hitting, it can really be something.  

The American Hustle soundtrack includes an Arabic version of "White Rabbit," "Live and Let Die," "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," and the Tom Jones hit, "Delilah."

"Long Black Road" is possibly the most obscure ELO song ever.  It was a bonus track on the Japanese version of ELO's final studio album, Zoom, which was released in 2001.  I have no idea why director Russell and his music supervisor, Susan Jacobs, chose to include it.

American Hustle is loosely based on the FBI's 1980 anti-corruption "sting" operation known as "Abscam."  (The movie opens with these words: "Some of this actually happened.")

In a nutshell, Abscam featured fake Arab sheikhs offering members of Congress money in return for political favors that would have made it easier for the sheikhs to invest their fictional oil wealth in the United States.

Abscam resulted in the criminal convictions of various state and local elected officials, six congressmen, and U.S. Senator Harrison Williams of New Jersey, who is shown here with an FBI agent disguised as an Arab shiekh:

The operation was criticized by many as pure and simple entrapment, and the Department of Justice issued guidelines for future undercover "sting" operations in response to those criticisms.  

Legally, entrapment occurs when a policeman or other law enforcement agent induces someone to commit a crime that they otherwise were unlikely to commit.  If a police officer dresses up like a prostitute and waits for a man to solicit her to have sex for money, that's not entrapment.  But if a police officer dressed like a prostitute approaches a man and solicits money in exchange for sex, that's entrapment.  (Warning: whether it's entrapment or not, your wife is going to be really pissed.)

There were some delicious Abscam-related moments that were not touched on in American Hustle.  

For example, Florida congressman Richard Kelly (the only Republican official implicated in Abscam -- his conviction was later overturned on entrapment grounds) was videotaped stuffing $25,000 in cash into his pockets and then asking an undercover agent, "Does it show?"

Bob Guccione takes a break
from a busy day at the office
An FBI informant approached the late Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione, who wanted to build a hotel and casino in Atlantic City, and told him a sheikh would invest in his project.  He suggested that Guccione offer New Jersey gaming officials a $300,000 bribe to grease the wheels for his gambling license.  Guccione responded, "Are you out of your mind?"

But no account of Abscam is complete without a mention of John and Rita Jenrette.

Rita and John Jenrette
John Jenrette, a congressmen from South Carolina, accepted a $50,000 bribe and spent 13 months in prison as a result.  Jenrette's comely young wife, Rita -- they were married in 1976, when he was 40 and she was 26 -- posed for Playboy six months after his conviction and told the magazine that she and her husband had sex on the steps of the U.S. Capitol during a break in an all-night House of Representatives session.

Rita Jenrette's Playboy cover
After divorcing the defrocked solon, Rita Jenrette starred in several movies, including Zombie Island Massacre (1984) and The Malibu Bikini Shop (1986).

Here's the trailer for Zombie Island Massacre.  (Rita's the woman who screams in the shower at o:34.)

In 2009, she married Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi of Piombino, a formerly independent principality that is now part of Italy.  A couple of years ago, she told a New Yorker reporter that the whole making-love-on-the-Capitol-steps tale was a big-ass lie.

The Prince and Rita
After getting out of jail, John Jenrette later opened a public relations firm in his hometown, Myrtle Beach.  He spent another 30 days in the poke for shoplifting a necktie in 1989.

That's why I've stopped wearing ties to the office -- there are enough temptations in a man's life.

Here's "Long Black Road":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

No comments:

Post a Comment