Movie Soundtrack Week: The Huge Warmth Of The Big Chill… My Introduction To Motown

Based on where we were yesterday, time-wise, I am guessing today’s choice will come as no surprise.

This was the first soundtrack I ever owned and immediately came to mind.  Denise, Marcelle and Tatiana all had this on their list, too… although surprisingly, this is not the one with the most “votes.”  That one comes tomorrow.. Oooh!

I know I did not fully understand this movie when I first saw it… I do now… but the music grabbed me right away and in fact was my introduction to a lot of these tunes and these bands.  I called it my welcome to Motown.

The Big Chill was directed by Lawrence Kasdan and came out in 1983.  It featured another dream cast that included Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum,William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly and JoBeth Williams.  And yes, I had  a HUGE crush on JoBeth!!!

For you film buffs, I am sure you know that Kevin Costner famously played Alex, but had all of his “scenes” cut.  In this one he is just a dead body.  Hmmm… sounds like MY acting career!

Larry made it up to him by casting him in six films, including his very next one, the amazing Western Silverado, which he also wrote, and which features an incredible Oscar nominated score (soundtrack) by Bruce Broughton.  Okay, I have to take just a minute to fawn over Lawrence Kasdan… He wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi and Continental Divide with John Belushi… I adore that film.  He also wrote and directed Body Heat, The Accidental Tourist (adapted by my genius, former NU professor Frank Galati), Grand Canyon and Wyatt Earp, to name a few more… Sigh…

The Big Chill was filmed in Beaufort, South Carolina “and was shot at the same antebellum home used as a location for The Great Santini.”

But we are here to talk about the music…

The Big Chill Soundtrack

The original release had 14 tracks, the first 10 of which were in the movie.  It was called The Big Chill – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Plus Additional Classics From The Era.

The 15th Anniversary has only those 10 tracks.  Odd… Guess there was a licensing issue… Or the greed of the record company as there was also an additional disc called The Big Chill – More Songs From The Original Soundtrack that was released in 1984.  Neither had The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Then in 2004 came the two-disc, 38-track Deluxe Edition, Music From And Inspired By The Big Chill.  Nice.

Today we’ll focus on those 10 songs, and what a 10 they are!

What stands out to me, and is the best compliment I can think of, is that I can picture each and every scene as the music plays!  You also realize how much of an impact Smokey Robinson had, both here and for music in general.  Amazing!

“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” – Marvin Gaye.  The quiet opening… the bass line… the top hat… and then that voice… Mmm!

“My Girl” –  The Temptations… Written by the incomparable Smokey Robinson and Ronald White.  Are you snapping?  How good is this song???

“Good Lovin’ ” – The Rascals… I love this song… and really love The Dead’s famous cover version, too!

“The Tracks of My Tears” – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles… Smokey continues to amaze me… That man has seen it all… and look at what he has done for Motown and music!  Smokey Robinson has literally filled the world with music… What a wonderful thing to be able to say!

“Joy To The World” – Three Dog Night… Written by country great Hoyt Axton… and the in Gremlins!!!  “Jeremiah was a bullfrog…”  If you are not smiling and dancing, you may not be human!

“Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” – The Temptations… Smokey was the main producer of The Temptations, but was moved aside when “Get Ready” did not chart as high as expected… In came Norman Whitfield, who produced and co-wrote this one with Edward Holland, Jr.  The troubled but brilliant David Ruffin handles the lead vocals here.  “Whitfield had David Ruffin’s lead vocal arranged just above his actual vocal range. As a result, the singer was forced to strain through numerous takes in order to get out all of the song’s high notes.”

“By the end of the “Ain’t Too Proud” recording session, recalls Temptation Otis Williams, Ruffin was “drowning in sweat and his glasses were all over his face”.  But oh what a song!!!

“(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” – Aretha Franklin… Ah, the Queen of Soul… Aretha kills this tune written by  Carole King and Gerry Goffin.

“I Second That Emotion” – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles… This song makes me want to grab a few fellas, start a vocal group and start dancing and singing on a street corner.

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” – Procol Harum… I saw them about a year and a half ago.  Fun!  This is easily up there as the song I would most identify with this soundtrack… And yes, in my younger days, I was enticed by the lyric “One of sixteen vestal virgins…”  What?  I was a dumb, horny kid.

“Tell Him” – The Exciters… This was an all-girl group for a while.  Bert Berns wrote the tune and Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller produced!

I remember blasting this throughout my frat house at Northwestern!  This movie and soundtrack make me so nostalgic… They make me long for those younger days and easier times.  They make me realize how much I love my friends and wish for a chance, under different circumstances of course, to just hang out and cook and drink and talk and dance…

Once again, we are shown the power of music… in film and especially in life!

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2 Comments

Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

2 responses to “Movie Soundtrack Week: The Huge Warmth Of The Big Chill… My Introduction To Motown

  1. Procol Harum. My first concert, Santa Monica Civic. 16 years old.

    I think of Grapevine as on of the last of the songwriter hits in that it was recorded by numerous artist at roughly the same time and was a hit for them all. In addition to Marvin, Gladys and the Pips and CCR charted with it.

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