Grooving to the "Ride" in Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused, 1993
The comments thread on my post concerning my "The Tree of Life" review for MSN Movies has taken an intriguing turn, now concerning itself with the ways various directors incorporate previously recorded music into their films. Malick and Woody Allen are cited, of course, as is Richard Linklater, who Kent Jones calls "the most underestimated American filmmaker." Looking back on the director's 1993 Dazed and Confused, Kent affectionately cites the film's closing song, Foghat's "Slow Ride," calling it within the film's context "an ode to freedom."
If only I could hear it that way. Instead, whenever I get a taste of the chugging slide-guitar riff that fuels the song, it's like ashes in my mouth. It's not an ode to freedom; it's a reminder of my youth being taken away.
Back in the early '70s, my uncle Jack, the head of the household known as "the Brooklyn Kennys," had this really delightful spread on remote Long Island, a converted farm complete with a barn. The occasional horse resided therein, but the barn was mostly notable for the swimming pool Jack had installed next to it. Summers of my early teens were spent there, in utter bliss. Jack's youngest boy, my cousin Justin, and Britt E., a cousin from Santa Monica (his dad had founded the Oar House, the hangout for the motorcycle gang in Corman's The Wild Angels, and, get this, was an early real-estate business partner of Arnold Schwarzenegger's) and I were all the same age, more or less, and we would camp out at that house for a month or so each summer, getting in to more and more "trouble" each year. Down the road lived one Kristin [sp.?] Gifford, reputedly a niece of Frank's, who was very cute and sweet and whom Justin had an enormous crush on. Britt would ostentatiously make as if to moon her whenever she was swimming underwater, which made poor Justin very nervous and agitated. We were all like 12 at the time. Our only adult supervision most of the time was our our aged grandmother and a couple of her equally elderly friends' they'd get up at the crack of dawn, put their tootsies in the pool for ten minutes, and then disappear until dinner, where we dutifully showed up and peppered the oldsters with questions as to what herbert Hoover was really like. When country life got a bit too quiet, we'd hop on the LIRR into the city and hang a bit at Uncle Jack's brownstone in the Heights, and go into Manhattan and get into Central Park Wollman Rink rock concerts for free by bribing a security guard at the perimeter gate with a single can of Schaefer beer from the six pack we had somehow procured before making our way there. We saw Poco and the Charlie Daniels Band, as I recall. Why, I don't know. Then, once we'd annoyed our older cousins sufficiently with our pizza and beer and loud rock music, we'd go back to the farm house, and the pool, and give Justin shit about getting nowhere with Kristin, and make dandelion wine, and maybe get a little reading done. It was heaven.
And then it was gone. Around the time I was 13 going on 14, Jack announced that he had sold the spread. Rather bemused, he related that he had sold it to, of all conglomerates, a rock and roll group. Scottish, he believed. "Have you heard of Foghat?" Jack asked. I had. "Undistinguished blues-rockers from the ashes of Savoy Brown," I did not say. I'd heard some of their stuff on WNEW FM. Whatever. "Normally I don't think too highly of the rock people," Jack said, "but I have to say these fellows were complete gentlemen." Like I cared.
And years later I read in MOJO magazine, I think it was, about Foghat's move from Great Britain to Long Island, and the terrific converted farm they communally bought, and how they converted the barn into a studio, which was brilliant, really, you see, because there was a swimming pool right next to it, so if you ran out of inspiration or just needed refreshing you could just nip out and have a little dip. The resultant atmosphere was so relaxing that it resulted in a new creative high for the band, resulting in the 1975 album Fool For The City, which also yielded the group's sole hit single.
Yup. It was "Slow Ride." Fuckers. Slowly I turn...