Eddie and the Cruisers (1983)
Directed by: Martin Davidson
Written by: Martin and Arlene Davidson
Based on the novel by P.F. Kluge
Starring: Michael Pare as Eddie Wilson
Tom Berenger as Frank Ridgeway
Ellen Barkin as Maggie Foley
Joe Pantoliano as Doc Robbins
Tagline: Rebel. Rocker. Lover. Idol. Vanished
By Rob Rector
If you were a teen during the first few years of MTV (which we now forget, but the ‘M’ once stood for Music, not M-barassingly shallow youth). The release of a new video was treated like a movie premier. You would gather around a friend’s house to watch that spaceship launch as it debuted a new favorite-to-be.
You would make sure the VCR was recording the right channel so after that three-minute movie, you could immediately rewind it and watch it over and over again to perfect your air instruments.
And if you were even the most casual viewier, the name Bruce Springsteen was certainly no stranger. There are not enough gigs on my hard drive to summarize my slavish devotion to all things Bruce – from spending summers as an early teen dancing on a roof of an outdoor bar as the raucous strains of “Rosalita” played in the salty beach breeze; being old enough to attend concerts in which I could worship my idol up close; the excitement of meeting a guy who wired Bruce’s home security system (Bruce and wife Patty Scialfa have their help all over their home every year for a barbecue where he cooks for them! How cool is that?); choosing “If I Should Fall Behind… (Wait for Me)” as my wedding song and inviting Bruce to attend (astonishingly, he declined).
During all this time, there were droughts where we would get no tunes from The Boss, so we would settle for anything even remotely similar.
Enter John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, aka the voice of Eddie and the Cruisers for the film of the same name. It wasn’t Bruce, but it was about the eighth- or ninth-best thing to listening to actual Bruce tunes.
In 1983, the little film came and went to the theater (I don’t even recall it appearing on local screens), but it was one of those lightening-in-a-bottle instances in which it received a breath of new life courtesy of one Home Box Office, which I think ran it on a loop with Beastmaster for months on end.
Music aside, there is very little of the film I recall. I remember it starring the dude from another favorite “Streets of Fire,” cementing Michael Pare’s place as the coolest living actor of the time for me. I think Diane Lane was in this or the sequel, but that could be “Streets of Fire” devotion bleeding over in my brain and the fact that I wanted Diane Lane to star in every film of my youth.
What I do recall is the video phenomenon that accompanied the film. There were two videos released: one featuring Pare lip-synching the entire song, as in the movie, the other starring the song’s real vocalist Cafferty and his bandmates aping “Springsteen style,” right down to the muscle shirts, bandanas and even the larger saxophonist who bared more than a slight resemblance to one Clarence “The Big Man” Clemons. I remember how disappointed I was when the latter version was screened, for I wanted to live in the dream. At least Pare vaguely resembled the rough-and-tumble look of a hungry-hearted rocker, not the scrawny incarnation that sang through his bangs into the mic, ala Cafferty.
Even though it was all some Milquetoast copy of Bruce, for a young kid, it would do. The accompanying cassette tape of the soundtrack would ultimately meet its demise in my boom box after succumbing to exhaustion (as did its followup “Tough All Over”. I did not want the videos, nor the liner notes to remind me of the actual ridiculously named band. I just wanted to close my eyes and pretend that it was the same artist that made me climb onto the rooftops and dance in the dark on those hot summer nights.
How dark was this trip ‘on the dark side? Will it ruin Rob’s memories of his ‘tender years?’
As always, you can download it here, or just listen online: