Friday, March 11, 2011

SONGS I LIKE: Celluoid Heroes (The Kinks)

I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show,
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes,
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die.

Celluloid Heroes single
Well-made movies can be more than entertainment, they can provide wisdom and understanding about the world and ourselves. Films such as Citizen Kane are technical masterpieces, while others such as Hot Fuzz are so much fun you forget everything and just laugh. Films provide us with a common language and connection point regardless of culture, background, and even language. Familiar quotes from movies can act as a quick laugh or a way of making a point by relating to the larger scene or film they are found.

For the modern man, movies act as the legends and tales of our culture, passed down through generations. Like the ancients telling each new generation the stories and fables of their past, movies tie generations together. Watching old Chaplain or Keaton movies connect you to generations now passed on, and the stars of the past still hold the fascination and interest they did decades ago.

The Kinks song "Celluloid Heroes" echoes William Shakespeare's line "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players" from As You Like It, which in its self is an echo of ancient Roman writer Petronius. Davies here presents a simple sing of joy about actors and their lives, those we know and those we've never heard of whose dream of stardom never happened.

He sings about the longing for life to be like the movies, where everything works out and nobody really dies, but then realizes that those stars he idolizes were vulnerable, flawed human beings just like you and I. Like most of his generation, he treats Marilyn Monroe with a tender affection for her hard and tragic life, and at the same time appeals to everyone as a star, everyone playing a role. We're not so very different, whether famous and beautiful or ordinary and unknown.

The song ends up being charming and beautiful while being sad and lonely at the same time, a triumph of Ray Davies' considerable talent as a songwriter.

Everybody's a dreamer and everybody's a star,
And everybody's in movies, it doesn't matter who you are.
There are stars in every city,
In every house and on every street,
And if you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Their names are written in concrete!

Don't step on Greta Garbo as you walk down the Boulevard,
She looks so weak and fragile that's why she tried to be so hard
But they turned her into a princess
And they sat her on a throne,
But she turned her back on stardom,
Because she wanted to be alone.

You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard,
Some that you recognize, some that you've hardly even heard of,
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame,
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.
Rudolph Valentino, looks very much alive,
And he looks up ladies' dresses as they sadly pass him by.
Avoid stepping on Bela Lugosi
'Cos he's liable to turn and bite,
But stand close by Bette Davis
Because hers was such a lonely life.
If you covered him with garbage,
George Sanders would still have style,
And if you stamped on Mickey Rooney
He would still turn round and smile,
But please don't tread on dearest Marilyn
'Cos she's not very tough,
She should have been made of iron or steel,
But she was only made of flesh and blood.

You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard,
Some that you recognize, some that you've hardly even heard of.
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame,
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.

Everybody's a dreamer and everybody's a star
And everybody's in show biz, it doesn't matter who you are.

And those who are successful,
Be always on your guard,
Success walks hand in hand with failure
Along Hollywood Boulevard.

I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show,
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes,
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die.

You can see all the stars as you walk along Hollywood Boulevard,
Some that you recognize, some that you've hardly even heard of,
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame,
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.

Oh celluloid heroes never feel any pain
Oh celluloid heroes never really die.

I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show,
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes,
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die.




This is part of the Songs I Like series.

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