Did you ever think about moving to Hollywood and becoming a star? A movie star…a TV star…a rock ‘n’ roll star? It’s one of the great American dreams. In fact, people from around the world pack their bags and move to Los Angeles every day because they believe they have what it takes. They have the looks, the chops, the savvy, the whatever it takes to make it in Hollywood. It’s an appealing premise, the idea that if you work hard and you’re good at what you do, you’ll be embraced by the king-makers and be made into a star. But it turns out that Hollywood, like a lot of our institutions, isn’t exactly what you’d call a meritocracy. And you don’t need to go much further than your television set or your local multi-plex to see the evidence of that.
We have a sort of love-hate relationship with Hollywood. We love the idea that you can get on a bus in Ohio and get off at the corner of Sunset and Vine, land a job waiting tables between auditions, and before you know it, you’re walking the red carpet. But as much as we love that idea, we know it’s not true. We know that’s not how it works. And this isn’t exactly what you’d call news. As far back as 1937, Johnny Mercer satirized the notion that anybody could be a star with his lyrics. In “Hooray for Hollywood” he wrote, ‘If you think you can be an actor, see Mr. Factor, he’ll make a monkey look good, within a half an hour you’ll look like Tyrone Power.’ So yeah, it’s long been acknowledged that there’s a distinct lack of integrity in La La Land. It’s like Fred Allen said, ‘You can take all the sincerity in Hollywood, place it in the navel of a fruit fly and still have room enough for three caraway seeds and a producer’s heart.’ So today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is a salute to Tinseltown and the people who make it what it is. But “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from Ethel Merman. Instead, we’ll hear from Elton John, Loudon Wainwright III, Billy Joel, The Eagles, and a Deep Ttrack from a band called Charlie. But first a film about a man that’s sad and lonely. And all he had to do was “Act Naturally.”
|The Beatles||Act Naturally|
|Loudon Wainwright III||Hollywood Hopeful|
|Billy Joel||Say Goodbye to Hollywood|
|Elton John||I’ve Seen That Movie Too|
|Eagles||King of Hollywood|
I think it’s fair to say we can take Hunter S. Thompson’s observation about the record industry and generalize it to say that show business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. That’s “King of Hollywood” from the Eagles LP The Long Run. A song that fades in and fades out, just like a screenplay. A song sung with all the menace of the powerful who can give you what you think you want. As long as you’re willing to be real nice. That one reminds me of the S.J. Perelman quote about Hollywood being a dreary industrial town controlled by hoodlums of enormous wealth. Before that, a Deep Track from Charlie, a band formed in the UK in the early 70’s. We played their ode to La La Land called “L.A. Dreamer” from their album Lines, that came out in 1977.
Before that, the Piano Man and his buddy. Billy Joel, from Turnstiles, saying “Goodbye to Hollywood” and Elton John from Goodbye Yellowbrick Road, singing about that film where the players are acting surprised, saying love’s just a four letter word between forcing smiles with the knives in their eyes. Yeah, “I’ve Seen That Movie Too.” The other Deep Track in that set was from Loudon Wainwright III. The guy holed up in a Hollywood hotel suite? With tequila to drink and avocado to eat? That’s Loudon, a guy with more Hollywood experience than anybody else in that set, having done everything from televison’s M*A*S*H to a big screen turn as a priest in The 40 Year Old Virgin. And at the very top, from Yesterday and Today, Ringo singing about how he was going to be a big star and all he had to do was “Act Naturally.” Well, we could go on forever doing songs about Hollywood but I’ve got an audition to get to before I drop off a copy of this screenplay I’ve been working on, so until next time from the Way Back studios, I’m Bill Fitzhugh saying thanks for listening. I’ll be back before you know it with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.