Soundtracks I Have Loved: Good Morning, Vietnam

Soundtrack: Good Morning, Vietnam
Year Released: 1988
I Bought It On: Cassette
How Does It Hold Up?: Unsurprisingly, just fine, though I don't think Robin Williams is as funny as I once thought he was.

1. Adrian Cronauer
2. Nowhere to Run--Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
3. I Get Around--The Beach Boys
4. Game of Love--Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders
5. Adrian Cronauer
6. Sugar and Spice--The Searchers
7. Liar, Liar--The Castaways
8. The Warmth of the Sun--The Beach Boys

9. Adrian Cronauer
10. I Got You (I Feel Good)--James Brown
11. Baby Please Don't Go--Them
12. Adrian Cronauer
13. Danger Hearbreak Dead Ahead--Marvelettes
14. Five O'Clock World--The Vogues
15. California Sun--The Rivieras
16. Adrian Cronauer
17. What a Wonderful World--Louis Armstrong

Up to this point, the soundtracks featured in the globally beloved SIHL series have primarily featured songs either written expressly for a movie or songs pretty much unknown before appearing on said soundtrack. But there's another type of soundtrack I have loved: the one that takes a whole bunch of old recordings of already popular songs and jams them all together in a package easily digestible for a preteen desperately trying to stave off boredom and scouring through the puny cassette selection of a run-down music store in Catskill, NY, in a late-1980s summer.

I am speaking, of course, of the soundtrack to Good Morning, Vietnam, another R-rated movie that I'm not entirely certain I saw in the theaters. I tend to think I didn't, but that would probably mean I bought the soundtrack before seeing the movie, which would've been odd but not entirely out of the realm of possibility. What I do recall is that my dad pre-ordered the VHS version at an upstate Ames, perhaps in the same plaza where we saw Dragnet, but more likely at the Ames in Greenville, NY, which was just up the road from the coolest place ever, Vince-Anna's Pizza-Putt, a place of dreams that combined pizza and miniature golf into one glorious facility. They've since removed the mini golf, which makes me sad, but the same family still runs the place, so do stop in sometime. So, I might have seen it for the first time on that very VHS, long after the soundtrack had become part of my regular listening in the summer of 1988.

The soundtrack includes some of Robin Williams's finer moments from the movie, most of which probably went directly over my naive little head at the time, or at least didn't completely register, partly because some of the jokes were "adult" and partly because my knowledge of Vietnam at the time was probably pretty tiny. For instance, I doubt that a "soldier" stating his location as being in "Poontang" really made any comedic sense to me on any level, though I probably just laughed because it's a funny word. But the parts I understood were funny enough, so I dug 'em, though it was really the songs I was more interested in.

I'd certainly heard a few ("I Get Around" and "I Got You [I Feel Good]" for sure, and maybe "Nowhere to Run" and "What A Wonderful World," too) via CBS-FM on car rides back and forth to upstate, but most of the songs were new to me at the time. Some took a little while to register ("Sugar and Spice" and "Liar Liar" in particular), and I've still never fully, ahem, warmed up to "The Warmth of the Sun", but, mainly because it was way too much of a hassle to rewind and fast-forward through the clunkers, I stuck it out and eventually came to love just about every song, to varying degrees.

I liked (and continue to like) the aforementioned tunes, as well as "Baby Please Don't Go" and "Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead" well enough, but they were firmly in the second tier of my favorites. "Game of Love" was probably the first song on the soundtrack that really grabbed me, and I've grown no less fond of it over the years. And, since I would have no clue what Wayne Fontana and/or any of the Mindbenders looked like (or sounded like live) without the wonders of YouTube, I tip my cap to you, fair Internet.

And, long before The Drew Carey Show brought "Five O'Clock World" into the greater public consciousness, I was already well versed thanks to the soundtrack. And, really, what other song speaks to an 11-year-old more than a bouncy lament to the rigors of the working world? Between this and "Workin' for a Livin'," I was well on my way to developing a strong, yet ultimately peppy hate for The Man (come to think of it, I also dug Roy Orbison's "Workin' for the Man" around this time, too).

On a side note, isn't it time to bring Hullabaloo back?

The hands-down number-one-favorite hit of the soundtrack for me was easily the Rivieras' "California Sun" (a celestial body I wouldn't see for another 20 years from the time of the soundtrack's purchase). Actually, if I am to believe IMDB, I had already been exposed to Frankie Avalon's cover of the song the previous year (we'll be delving into that in a future SIHL post), but, and please forgive me, Mr. Avalon (and you too, Ramones), there's no version better than the original.

I just about wore the cassette out in the summer of 1988, playing it on my little boom box in my bedroom on many a summer day in Windham, NY. Luckily, I didn't totally wear it out, so I can still pop it into the last remaining portable cassette player and head back to that summer, and the summers of the 1960s that I missed, whenever I want.

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