Rolling Stones cover of album

Is there anything more emotionally powerful than the right music at the right time in the right place?
  I watched "The Fighter" with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale a couple weeks ago. Wahlberg, a struggling young Boston boxer with a nutjob punch-drunk crackhead former almost-was fighter-turned-trainer of an older brother in Bale (a fantastic performance, btw), wins an important fight signifying his solid ascension on the comeback trail. After taking and giving scores of body blows and head shots, Wahlberg solidly decks his opponent and wins the bout. It truly is a very emotional Rocky-esque moment, perfectly constructed.

  The song chosen to drive home the scene's import? Aerosmith's "Back In the Saddle,” a major rock classic (about cowboys and sex) with the highly unusual six-string bass riff by Joe Perry as well as Tom Hamilton's thumping normal bass playing. The intro builds tension as Perry's brilliantly slippery riff slides slyly beneath Steven Tyler's vocal howling euphemisms, the whole point of the song celebrating the return to sexual triumph, as macho and primal as boxing itself.

  It's placement accompanies a battered but triumphant arms-in-the-air Wahlberg as he's just downed his opponent and he ain't getting up. In a moment the ref is pulling Wahlber's arm up as the winner and then it hits Wahlberg and he begins dancing and jumping with his crucial win. Between the boxing action and its emotional import coupled with Perry and Hamilton's river of rip currents pulling you in, I was stunned experiencing the scene. Uber-dramatic, very much so.

  The second major soundtrack song blowing my mind while I do the couch potato: several days later I'm watching my new favorite cable series, Ray Donovan, about a criminally dysfunctional family of Bostonian southies gone to Los Angeles. At a birthday party for one the teenage sons, the toxic dynamics spill over thanks to the booze and bad family history. The skunk grandfather (Jon Voight) is kicked out by Ray (Liev Schreiber, who plays a Hollywood fixer), his wife is mortified by the bad behavior, feelings are hurt--you know the score.

  But after the party, when the father (Liev Schrieber) finds himself alone with his son in the living room does the healing Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C.'s version of the 'smith's Walk This Way. Schreiber begins dancing by himself, slowly, crawling emotionally from his self-loathing, eyes close. His son doesn't see that part but does see his dad finally doing something human he can relate to as a teenaged boy: dancing. In a a few seconds father and son are full-on into the groove, white-boy-hip-hopping throwing out their arms, the joy palpable. Add a little West Coast hardcore punk pit movements and these two cats have transformed an ugly, hateful night into a life affirmed.

  It's a beautiful moment. The son and father bond, no dialogue, the music taking over, funky and punchy as hell, no excuses. The scene and episode end with Liev holding his head back, eyes closed, blissfully and deeply emotionally escaping into the ecstasy of their bodies moving. But what really got to me was as Liev was banging his head left and right, smiling blindly dancing with his eyes closed was his throwing of his right arm with clenched fist into the air, as if in victorious defiance of a god who let such harm come to this oh-so-human family.

  Another moment of triumph which would be nothing without the music. Abandoned by god, Liev and his son were able to recoup their humanity dancing to Walk This Way. Fucking wow.

  But how 'bout that--Aerosmith providing both of the two most powerful music-enhanced scenes on the small screen I've seen this summer? Aerosmith?

  Works for me.

  And yet...the Boston connection--Boston boxer, Boston's Donovans (having been sexually abused by Boston priests), accompanied by Boston's finest. Huh. Make of it what you will.

  Interestingly enough, during a car ride scene in Fighter, the producers used Led Zeppelin's Good Times/Bad Times and what was noteworthy was how little impact an otherwise very powerful song by the greatest blues-rock-metal band of all time carried in the scene. No effect. They may as well not even have used it, the enhancement was so small. But if you think about, Zep songs seldom make it into the movies. Maybe Jimmy Page wants too much licensing dough.

  Now, the way I have survived the insanity of running my own record store on insane High Street for a quarter-century is that I simply cannot work unless the music matches my mood. Which means, these days, mellow piano jazz in the morning (Nat King Cole Trio, Bill Mays Trio), segueing into some not-too-heavy soul/jazz (Crusaders Southern Comfort), then into Albert King (I have played far more Albert than B.B. in my life) or the late great Junior Wells and of course copious amounts of Booker T. and the MG's.

  Then if the mood is really good, it's the British: Stones, some Beatles, Kinks, Mott the Hoople, Bowie, Small Faces. Then it's back to the Americans later afternoon: J.J. Cale and the criminally overlooked C.C. Adcock, a swamp rocker from Louisiana whose Lafayette Marquis is a perfect coda to any amount of Cale.

  And then Jazz Hour starts and usually lasts til the end of the day.

  What do I play when I'm in a bad mood? I'm never in a bad mood (laughter).

  Interestingly enough, the old mummy lady receptionist from whatever dean's office at Ohio State has been calling again, asking in her creepy death-voice-from-the-crypt to turn the music down. This morning it was during the Bill Mays Trio live album. I have no idea what the frickin' heck is the problem with certain instructors across the street who call her to complain but I'm tellin' ya, my stinky little speaker just doesn't have that kind of power. There are some pathetic adults over there. Don't they understand High Street is my playground?

  But what I'm saying is, it's my mood, bitch, and I'll play anything I damn well want to at the volume I feel because High Street is untamed and wild and free and fuck you, noise laws don't start til 10 p.m.

  I did have my own personally serious scene accompanied by some incendiary music recently. It could've been inspired by The Fighter.

  Around 4 in the afternoon the other day I saw some tall fairly well-built young man and his friend surreptitiously steal a Lana Del Rey poster from my sidewalk sale. Suffering from a two-night sleep deficit, I had absolutely no fuse that day and went tearing out after him, launching myself in the air from behind, no customary rebel yell announcing my intentions, wringing him around by his neck, sending a very direct right fist into his jaw and then proceeding to pop him a couple more times as I ducked his wildly thrown punches.

  As Bernie's patio barflies told me later, apparently every time he swung I ducked and came up with my right, applying nuclear knuckle pressure to his left cheek. I don't really remember much because I was so inspired to achieve justice I did at least achieve what I call "Irish consciousness." I simply went full instinct. My middle name is Donovan, after all, though I have no Boston connection other than my favorite ship of all time is parked there, the U.S.S. Constitution, God bless.

  There was no dialogue in our scene, by the way, between me and the thief.

  It was powerful nonetheless.

  The music just a little bit earlier had been the Stones hits package, Grrr!!!, and Streetfightin' Man was among 'em. But at that moment of malfeasance it was Hendrix's blazing live version of Fire from the 1968 Atlanta Pop Festival. Streetfightin' Man, Fire? These are songs that get my Irish/Slavic blood up. If you're gonna steal from me I suggest doing it during my piano jazz set or maybe when I'm playing Donovan, the only peaceful Irishman who ever lived, especially with that name.

  After a total of maybe 30 seconds sparring and solidly connecting, I figured three solid hits to the jaw for a six dollar poster that cost me less than three was enough punishment. Don't mess with a man deranged by 25 years of High Street retailing. For he has served his time in hell and deserves to play what he wants.
  Basically what I'm saying is if I don't find the right music to fit my mood inside I'm as irritated as a severely diaper-rash-chafed baby.

  And I simply can't stand to be around myself.
  Other than that, you're welcome to my mood anytime. With or without dialogue, bitch.

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