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The parable of the credits

It would be an understatement to say that I didn’t get on well with Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. But I did stay until the end of the film, all the way to the credits, at which point I was unexpectedly rewarded by the sound of a record that I sometimes think would be the one I’d save from a burning house: Chuck Jackson’s “Any Day Now (My Wild Beautiful Bird)”.

For me this record, a US Top 40 hit in the summer of 1962, is Burt Bacharach’s finest hour as a writer of melodies and arrangements. His creation finds its perfect match in Bob Hilliard’s poetic words, with their gloriously gloomy prediction that “those blue shadows will fall over town” when the singer’s lover leaves, as he is convinced she will. Jackson, one of the best singers of his type and era, does the song full justice: of all the many artists who later covered it, none ever improved on this original version. In the lovely clip above, Bacharach mimes the distinctive organ intro; it was actually played in the studio by the great Paul Griffin.

Hearing it at the very end of a film I disliked was a reminder of sitting through Wim Wenders’s three-hour 1991 film Until the End of the World, until the moment when, after what felt like several weeks, the credits rolled and a half-familiar voice croaked: “I tried to reach you… on Valentine’s Day…”. Thus I was introduced to Robbie Robertson’s “Breakin’ the Rules”, a track from the 1991 album Storyville which — thanks not least to the understated nobility of its horn arrangement by the late Wardell Quezergue, as well as the achingly soulful vocals shared by Robertson with the Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan — has existed for me ever since on a plane only half a notch below “Any Day Now”, which is to say within touching distance of heaven.

So the moral must be: whatever your opinion of the film, don’t leave your seat until you’ve see the line about no animals being harmed and the lights have come up.

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Russ Titelman #

    Richard,
    I’m with you 100% on Any Day Now. In fact But has a few in that category….close to heaven. Lou Johnson. I haven’t seen either of those movies but admire your perseverence. I couldn’t do it.

    February 23, 2015
  2. Sid Griffin #

    Hi Richard, surely you and Russ Titelman give a certain dollop of credit to the great Luther Dixon for the beauty of Any Day Now. I am always astounded how many great 1960s singles have a Luther Dixon credit somewhere on them yet this stellar talent remains pretty much forgotten by the industry and certainly forgotten by the public.

    Have you written a blog on Luther Dixon a la the one on Maxwell Davis? If not perhaps you should consider it.

    Sid Griffin

    February 23, 2015
  3. crocodilechuck #

    What’s the matter with the movie??

    February 23, 2015
  4. Jon Ramsey #

    Hi Richard, much as I revere you in all respects musical, I don’t get the reaction to Inherent Vice. And most of my friends hated it so I know i’m in a minority, and quite a few people in the screening I went to walked out. But I laughed like a drain most of the way through. I loved the skits on Chinatown, Raymond Chandler, sunny California noir (as it were), and all sorts of out of the blue introductions of random craziness which were absolutely of a piece with that milieu. As for the political paranoia of the mid-70s onwards … did everybody miss that? Plus the soundtrack was great. (Maybe this has to do with my own experiences in the 70s.) But also some of the film is boring, certainly 20 minutes too long. But great to be bored in a film one liked. Sounds paradoxical but true. I don’t want to be stimulated every waking minute and sometimes it is good to drift and then dip back in. I thought Mr. Phoenix was just terrific and the whole straggling, stoner thing was about right. Ok. Stoned people can be tedious and Inherent Vice had its flat moments, but all the same. There’s always the soundtrack when things get a little out of hand.

    February 23, 2015
  5. Gordon B #

    Worth noting that Chuck Jackson is still active and performing.

    February 24, 2015

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