Soundtracks I Have Loved: Leap of Faith

Soundtrack: Leap of Faith
Year Released: 1992
I Bought It On: CD
How Does It Hold Up?: Some tracks better than others. Meat Loaf's Meat Loaf.

1. Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat--Don Henley
2. Ready For A Miracle--Patti Labelle
3. Change In My Life--John Pagano
4. Stones Throw From Hurtin'--Wynonna
5. King Of Sin Medley (Lord Will Make A Way (Somehow)/God Said He Would See You Through/God Will Take Care of You/Psalm 27--Angels Of Mercy
6. Pass Me Not--Lyle Lovett and George Duke
7. Rain Celebration (Jesus On The Mainline/Ready For A Miracle/It's A Highway To Heaven) --Angels Of Mercy
8. Blessed Assurance--Albertina Walker
9. Paradise By The Dashboard Light--Meat Loaf

I'm a little upset with myself for not considering the soundtrack to Leap of Faith when I first set out to chronicle the Soundtracks I Have Loved. This egregious oversight on my part is, as far as I can tell, due to three main reasons:

1. I bought it on CD, and the majority of the Soundtracks I Have Loved are on cassette. The only previous CD entry in the SIHL canon was Pretty Woman, which popped back into my brain (a) because it was one of the first CDs I remember buying and (b) I'd just heard "King of Wishful Thinking" on the radio, which leads me to...

2. The majority of the songs on the Leap of Faith soundtrack will not be popping up on radio stations I listen to on a regular basis. The one glaring exception, of course, being "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," whose inclusion only barely makes sense if you know that Meat Loaf was in the movie. I can only imagine there was one day when he was on set, and the conversation went like this:

Meat: I'm not going to the set today until you guys get me more money.

Meat's Agent: Well, there's just no more money to be had. There's got to be another way to get you on set.

Meat: Well, man, you could put one of my songs on the soundtrack.

Meat's Agent: Oh, great, perfect. So Steinman's written a new song that fits the gospel theme of the soundtrack? Wow. Awesome. A new Steinman/Meat Loaf track! They'll love it.

Meat: No, man. Not a new one--one of the classics. "Paradise," brother.

Meat's Agent: Oh, you mean a new version?

Meat: No, the original.

Meat's Agent: Really? The original recording? On a gospel soundtrack?

Meat: Amen, brother. Me and Jesus. Make it happen.

OK, maybe it didn't happen that way. But there's really no reason for "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" on the soundtrack.

3. The "L"s are on the bottom row of my CD storage unit. I know, it's a lame excuse, but, sadly, I think it's pretty valid.

Whatever the reasons, here we are, mainly because I heard Ollabelle do their slow version of "Jesus on the Mainline" a few weeks ago and was instantly reminded of the Angels of Mercy's far superior version on the soundtrack. And soon after that I started thinking about the movie, showcasing "serious Steve Martin" as a fraudulent tent revivalist (or is he?) and with a killer performance by Lukas Haas, now best known for being a friend of Leonardo DiCaprio, if he's known at all, which is too bad. And that led to recalling that I proudly displayed the poster to the movie in my college dorm room. I really knew how to impress the ladies, no? I like to think I've lost none of that magic. It was a cool-looking poster, OK? Or at least cooler than the With Honors one that hung near it (didn't have that soundtrack, though I liked the Madonna song just fine).

I don't think I'd been exposed to much gospel music prior to seeing Leap of Faith (some Contemporary Christian music, but calling that gospel seems wrong), and what little I had heard was courtesy of my dad and the very white variety he enjoyed (the Oak Ridge Boys and the Statler Brothers, both of whom were, in retrospect, practically black compared to the Gaithers, whom I was introduced to later in life via my Episcopalian dad's curious latent desire to be a white Southern Baptist). So imagine my surprise when this young Staten Island boy discovered that gospel music could, well, not suck. To wit, Patti LaBelle's "Ready for a Miracle" (with Edwin Hawkins):

And that was topped by the aforementioned Angels of Mercy, whose "King of Sin Medley" is just fine (you can hear it in the background of this scene), but whose "Rain Celebration Medley" kicks some righteous ass.

My love of the soundtrack is pretty much predicated on Patti LaBelle and the Angels of Mercy, but a few of the other tracks are decent, too. My hatred of Don Henley takes a backseat to no one, but I'll admit to liking his version of "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat" at the time. Listening now, I'm a little less enthused about it, but such is the case with everything Don Henley does, no?

"Stones Throw From Hurtin'," however, doesn't break my string of not liking one song Wynonna has sung, and, while I'm at it, the lack of an apostrophe in "Stones" bothers me (but that falls on Elton John and Bernie Taupin, who wrote it). "Blessed Assurance" and "Pass Me Not" fare a little better, though I think I skipped over them more often than not. And John Pagano's "Change In My Life" toes the line between overwrought and powerful, ultimately leaning more toward the latter.

He's no Hanson, but who is?

There are better Steve Martin movies (My Blue Heaven 4 Life!), a better book about religious charlatans (The Faith Healers, by James Randi, who takes issue with what he perceives to be the movie's liberal, uncredited use of his material), and better examples of gospel music around than on the Leap of Faith soundtrack, but in terms of that final point, I don't know that I would've known that if I hadn't heard the songs on the soundtrack in the first place.

So, praise the Lord for that.


Charlie Louvin RIP

Charlie Louvin, one-half of the greatest brother duo in country music history, went on to meet his higher power early this morning. He was 83. He leaves behind a ton of great music, both with his brother Ira (Satan Is Real, Tragic Songs of Life, A Tribute to the Delmore Brothers) and by himself (Charlie Louvin, Steps to Heaven and any number of albums you can only find on vinyl, the best of which are mostly on this greatest hits CD).

When I first heard of the Louvin Brothers (sometime in the mid-1990s), I assumed I'd missed my chance to ever hear them live. Those piercing harmonies seemed to be from somewhere way back in the ether, and even if they were alive and, even more improbably, performing, there was no way a college kid in Ithaca was going to see them anytime soon.

Turns out one of the Louvins was still around and, according to the article I read in the first No Depression I ever got my hands on, he was recording, living near Nashville, and playing the occasional live show and Grand Ole Opry performance. But Nashville seems impossibly far away when you're surviving on the kindness of your parents and, well, not much else. So seeing Charlie Louvin perform seemed a pipe dream. And even when I made it to Nashville in 2002, Charlie was nowhere to be seen on either of the Grand Ole Opry shows I went to (though Loretta Lynn was, so it wasn't a total loss). I began to have my doubts I'd ever see him.

Finally, in September 2003, on a bill put together by Cake, a band whose music I don't like but whose taste I have no quarrel with, Charlie Louvin came to New York City for a show with Cake, Cheap Trick, and the Detroit Cobras. I bought my ticket, counted down the days, and finally headed out in the early afternoon with my Charlie Louvin LP to see if I could meet the man before the show.

I was running a little late, so I hustled off the subway and made my way to Roseland just in time to see two guys unpacking their car and heading toward the stage door. I wasn't entirely sure what Charlie looked like, but I was reasonably confident that he was the older of the two guys. Luckily, I was right, and after listening to me babble about how honored I was to meet him and how psyched I was to see him perform, he signed my record and I was just about as happy as I could possibly be.

Inside Roseland, I was standing next to a couple of guys who had no idea who Charlie was, something akin to a crime in my mind at the time (and the passing years haven't dimmed that thought much). I tried my best to explain, and to help them with the pronunciation of his last name, but once I said "country," they looked confused. One of them piped up.

"You mean, like Johnny Cash?"

"Um, yeah, I guess."

"Is he as big as Johnny Cash?"

"Well, it depends who you ask, I guess."

"No, he can't be bigger than Johnny Cash."

"Well, if you asked Johnny Cash, he'd probably say Charlie was bigger."

"No way."

It wasn't a fun conversation, and I didn't bother asking what they thought of Charlie after the show. I'm sure they didn't like him as much as they liked Johnny Cash (or at least the three Johnny Cash songs they'd heard). But I did, even if the voice that came out of Charlie at Roseland wasn't anywhere near what I'd heard on Satan Is Real or Tragic Songs of Life. I was in the same room when Charlie Louvin was singing, and that was good enough for me.

I was lucky enough to see Charlie live five times after that (and to see him shoo away a woman in Lancaster, PA, who, I think, had asked him to sign her boob), and it never stopped being cool to be breathing the same air as Charlie Louvin.

I'm sad that Charlie breathes no more. It's a worse world today without Charlie Louvin in it. But I've had a better life for having heard Charlie Louvin sing Louvin Brothers songs up close. So, thanks, Charlie. Hope you and Ira are getting reacquainted.

Here's just some of Charlie's best. Buy his CDs if you haven't.


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.


What I Liked About December

*Old 97's/Hayes Carll, Bowery Ballroom, NYC
*The birth of Juliet Cagnazzi
*Hanging out with Josh, Ruth, and Nate in Hoboken
*Alpine Squeeze playing "Rucki Zucki" about 10 minutes after I walked into Zeppelin Hall on New Year's Eve
*The Avett Brothers and Drive By Truckers NYE concerts on Sirius XM

*Almost taking flight on Washington Blvd. in Jersey City during the blizzard
*Marah (w/ Steve Earle)/The Waldos, Bowery Ballroom, NYC
*Prince/Janelle Monae/Mint Condition, Madison Square Garden, NYC
*The "Freaks and Geeks" marathon on IFC
*Bert Jansch/Pegi Young, Bell House, Brooklyn, NY

*Drive By Truckers, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY
*Time's Up making me look at "Cagney and Lacey" and "Love Shack" in a whole new way
*Two visits to Deising's Bakery in 24 hours
*Bowling a 211 in the 14th of 15 games over two days
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places