Way Back 2023

March 10, 2023 - A Few More Notable Mid-Century Goodies From Awards Films on the Fringe

Looking beyond the Academy Awards nominees as the movie awards season comes to a close reveals some enduring musical selections from the half-century-plus mark in other notable films. Mahalia Jackson's treasured 1963 recording of one of her signature songs, "I Will Move on Up a Little Higher," comes at a significant moment in Till, starring Danielle Deadwyler, who received several high-profile accolades yet missed out on an Oscar nod. The Good Nurse, highlighted by Eddie Redmayne's well-received performance, has a scene in a diner with two songs playing the background: Jeannie C. Riley's 1969 "Harper Valley" follow-up There Never Was a Time" and Bonnie Guitar's top ten hit from 1957, "Dark Moon."

Armageddon Time, starring Anthony Hopkins and Critics' Choice Best Young Actor/Actress nominee Banks Repeta, shrewdly includes "Só Danço Samba" by Getz/Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim, in addition to a generous helping of infectious instrumentals: "How Insensitive" by guitar great Wes Montgomery, Nelson Riddle's "Route 66 Theme," Jackie Gleason's "Lover Come Back to Me" and Bill Justis's cover of Bent Fabric's 1962 hit "Alley Cat." Comedy Bros makes time for Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" vamp and "When I Fall in Love" by Nat "King" Cole. Finally, "Down on the Corner" by Creedence Clearwater Revival is on the soundtrack of Nicolas Cage's tongue-in-cheek vanity project The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.

February 12, 2023 - Patsy's 100-Million-Plus Instant Audience Impressions...Plus More TV and Oscars Oldies

"If I Could See the World (Through the Eyes of a Child)," a heartfelt 1957 recording by Patsy Cline, is getting a lot of attention since its exposure to upwards of 113 million viewers during Super Bowl LVII on a religious ad for HeGetsUs.com. Meanwhile, a current Adobe spot keeps the century-old Mediterranean-tune-turned-surf-guitar humdinger "Miserlou" going strong 60 years after its initial release by Dick Dale and his Del-Tones.

Filling in the musical gaps as the Academy Awards ceremony inches closer, more vintage hits are revealed among nominationed films: Best Picture nominee Women Talking manages to work in The Monkees' second number one "Believer" hit (the one with "Daydream" in its title). Causeway (with Best Supporting Actor nominee Brian Tyree Henry) is set in New Orleans and features three favorites from the city's rich musical backlog: "Blue Monday" by Fats Domino and two by Ernie K-Doe, his 1961 chart topper "Mother-In-Law" and later cult classic "Here Come the Girls." Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, starring Lesley Manville, rocks in one scene with Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and enchants in another with singer-actress Juliette Gréco's "On N'oublie Rien."

February 5, 2023 - Grammys Still Evading Oldies, But a Few Snuck Through

Over the last few years, the Grammy Awards have acknowledged very few songs or artists from four or more decades ago (outside of the "in memorium" segments). So any reference to vintage music of that era, however brief, is welcome. "Soulful Strut" by Young-Holt Unlimited underscored host Trevor Noah's introduction to this year's show. "Get Ready" by The Temptations provided a lead-in for Billy Crystal's introduction to the Motown segment: Smokey Robinson sang his group The Miracles' "Tears of a Clown," then Stevie Wonder performed the Tempts' "The Way You Do the Things You Do" and was joined by country star Chris Stapleton for a rocking rendition of Wonder's hit "Higher Ground." Later in the show, Ray Charles' renowned recording of "America the Beautiful" accompanied First Lady Jill Biden's appearance. Also, Airbnb ran a new commercial featuring The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine," though of course that wasn't part of the actual awards show.

January 18, 2023 - Oldies A-Plenty in Award-Nominated TV Miniseries and Movies

As we find ourselves in the thick of Hollywood's "awards season" ritual, it's hard not to sample at least one episode from many of 2022's top television nominees, which can lead to participation in the couch-bound sport widely referred to as bingeing. Doing so reveals, for fans of decades-old music, a wealth of vintage hits set in a variety of different contexts while discovering some excellent films and limited series. So before you start streaming, let's play catch-up on some of the music found in the past year's critically-acclaimed TV fare.

Recent contenders first: FX's marriage/divorce drama Fleishman is in Trouble features Neil Diamond's 1966 hit "Cherry, Cherry." Hulu's big winner The Bear (Golden Globe and Critics Choice Best Actor awards for star Jeremy Allen White) has mostly '90s rock songs on its soundtrack but also features the '60s hits "Help Me, Rhonda" by The Beach Boys and "Da Doo Ron Ron" by The Crystals (as well as the hit '70s version by Shaun Cassidy). A trio of crime-centric miniseries have included some classic rock and pop songs: chart-toppers "Sunshine Superman" by Donovan and "Green Tambourine" by The Lemon Pipers are in Netflix's chilling Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story starring Evan Peters. "When I Was Young" by Eric Burdon and the Animals plays in an episode of the Apple TV+ series Black Bird. HBO murder mystery The Staircase (Colin Firth the accused, Toni Collette the victim) has some unusual choices: two mid-'60s Mills Brothers recordings ("I Can't Stop Loving You" and "You Always Hurt the One You Love") and "little" Jerry Williams' hidden gem "Baby, Bunny (Sugar, Honey)" from 1965, alongside a pair of big 1969 hits: "I Started a Joke" by The Bee Gees and too-obvious choice "More Today Than Yesterday" by The Spiral Starecase.

The Offer, a drama/bio set behind-the-scenes during the making of the 1972 film classic The Godfather includes some big ones by British bands ("All Day and All of the Night" by The Kinks, "White Room" by Cream, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum), plus heavyweight Hendrix rocker "All Along the Watchtower," in addition to The Five Satins' '56 vocal group benchmark "In the Still of the Nite," Dion's '62 smash "The Wanderer" and ahead-of-its-time pop culture soul shot "Different Strokes" by Syl Johnson. The Starz drama Gaslit, with Julia Roberts, has The Lovin' Spoonful's "Daydream" and Lesley Gore's still-powerful feminist anthem "You Don't Own Me."

But wait, there's more: HBO's World War II concentration camp drama The Survivor starring Ben Foster, partly set in 1963, contains three contrasting hits from that year: The Jaynetts' "Sally, Go Round the Roses," Allan Sherman's summer camp parody "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" and Bill Pursell's exquisite instrumental "Our Winter Love." BBC medical miniseries This is Going to Hurt rocks with the '68 Human Beinz hit "Nobody But Me," then goes much softer with a 1965 Zombies album cut, "The Way I Feel Inside," and Lee Hazlewood's downbeat "My Autumn's Done Come" from '66.

Here are a few more famous songs featured in nominated crime dramas: Nat "King" Cole's chart-topping "Mona Lisa" is heard in Apple's The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey starring Samuel L. Jackson in the title role. Three more from Hulu: Under the Banner of Heaven has The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's 1959 hit "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and Harry Simeone's holiday season smash from the previous year, "The Little Drummer Boy." The Girl From Plainville (as portrayed by Elle Fanning) makes room for "Sweet Pea" by Tommy Roe and award winner The Dropout, starring Amanda Seyfried, did it the same way as Frank Sinatra: "My Way." In closing, sincere thanks go to the many television creators helping to keep the music of the '50s and '60s going strong nearly a quarter of the way into the 21st century.


Route 66 Theme Mother-In-Law Help Me, Rhonda Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home) Sunshine Superman Green Tambourine In the Still of the Nite Sally, Go 'Round the Roses Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A letter From Camp) Our Winter Love