' ' Cinema Romantico: Ray of Light

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Ray of Light

Though this blog’s beloved “Roxanne” was released in the 80s, a very, shall we say, specific looking, feeling, sounding decade, it simultaneously cultivated a feeling of timelessness. This stemmed from its source material, Edmond Rostand’s everlasting 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac, and which was emphasized in both Steve Martin’s often courtly, if relentlessly comical, air and in the soundtrack, employing Strauss’s Blue Danube Waltz and a Mozart string quartet. Still, if there was a decade that was difficult to entirely excise from a film, even a nominally ageless one, it was the 1980s. And so, the Me Decade emerges in “Roxanne” anyway, in the fashion, like Daryl Hannah’s striking jean jacket, and the music, which is not all familiar classical arrangements. The “Roxanne” score is a vintage slice of 80s synthesizer and soft rock saxophone, yes, but I’m thinking just as much about another song, one that appears in the background during a scene at the small Washington ski town watering hole.

It is not a song that dominates the scene like Teena Marie’s “Lead Me On” when Maverick and Goose enter the “target rich environment” in “Top Gun” because “Roxanne” is not that kind of movie. But the song is noticeable, underlining Roxanne’s would-be romance with Rick Rossovich’s hunky but hapless firefighter, and my ears always perked up when I heard it. It was not, alas, included on the official soundtrack, near as I can tell, though IMDb’s soundtrack credits helpfully list it. Oh. Right. The song. It’s called “Can This Be Love?”, written by Janet Minto, Pamela Barlow, Rick Boston, and some dude named –(assumes Dave Barry voice) I’m not making this up – Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. I dunno. A Jeff “Skunk” Baxter track seems like it would be more Skynyrd-y to me but appearances deceive. And anyway, it was performed by Minto and Barlow, who, I learned through the helpful Reverb Nation, were a songwriting duo in the 80s who, as “Roxanne” suggests, dreamt up songs for TV and movies. (Minto was also once married to some guy whose name I forget.) And Reverb Nation, as you can see below, helpfully provides the cut that the official soundtrack does not, one a little more buoyant in its club-readiness than Teena Marie’s boldly swaggering cut.

I have nothing else to say. Why would I? This Ray of Light is purely about the song, which flashes us back to, well, who are we kidding here, not a better time, per se, but that one its brief, transfixing spell of pure 80s provides resplendent temporary amnesia. Feel the glow! Let it show!

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