1984 Time Crapsule
:: Carl Lewis - Goin' For The Gold ::
:: Steve Lawrence - We're In L.A. ::
You remember 1984, right? Van Halen's album 1984 rocked every dorm in America, Big Brother was still something in a book, and the world was about to converge on Los Angeles for the Summer Olympics, giving yet one more gasp of life to Randy Newman's "I Love LA". The hype was grand, and the city I live in, the City of Angels, was getting the promotion machine revved up big time. Problems with freeways and other potentially unattractive and displeasing things to visitors of the world were swiftly rectified to make the host city look and feel more welcoming. Murals were put up, because Mayor Bradley really liked murals, including one along a stretch of the 405 down towards the South Bay by noted muralist Kent Twitchell, depicting marathon runners. That one always creeped me out, because the expressions on their faces, their hollow yet seeking eyes, and the implied rigidity of their movement say one thing and one thing only to me: BRAINSSSSSS. Over the years, this painting became filthy and mercilessly tagged, so they removed it for restoration a while back. You can still see faint silhouettes of the runners, like atomic shadows. Again, creepy.
So here we are in the midst of another Olympics, the Winter Games in Torino, Italy. These Olympics bore me. I don't want to hear about Bode and Miller Time, or Michelle Kwan's groin. I love hockey, but I don't want to look at Chris Chelios' dopey mug any more than I have to. I don't want to hear about Pavarotti unless he's doing a duet with Bryan Adams so preposterous that I injure myself laughing. So I am going to take you back to 1984, a very important Olympics. It was the first Summer Olympics for the U.S. since 1976, because we'd boycotted the 1980 games in the Soviet Union, and it was here on our soil, in the entertainment capital of the world, and we were armed with some of our most impressive athletes. We'd show 'em.
These here two songs are the product of the hype and hope of the 1984 Olympics, and reek of Los Angeles more than they probably intended. First off is a classic of bad music, "Goin' For The Gold." This 12" on Megatone Records by track superstar Carl Lewis hurts. There are three versions of the song to choose from. I've included the rap version, because as a white man it makes me feel good to hear a black man with less hip hop flavor than me. Seriously, I think Phil Donahue could have delivered this flaccid (c)rap with more street cred. If you like this, or like to laugh at shit like this, you should head over to Carl's official site and watch the video for another song of his. If someone hasn't already laid this one on you, you're in for a treat.
The other song, "We're In L.A.," is equally bad, and somehow trumps "Goin' For The Gold" with its lyrical content. Fortunately, hearing such fluffy drivel delivered via Steve Lawrence's schmaltzy lounge crooning makes it feel somehow like a celebration of the bad, or at least a celebration of how money can be misspent on studio time. Musically, it sounds like the theme to a local morning show. Lyrically, it may be the worst thing ever written. "Modern times are here at last, the age of the tar pits are in the past." The grammar isn't even right on that, but hey, we've got sunshine and movie stars!