Sing Us A Song You’re The Piano Man

So as I’ve mentioned before, our current go-to show is Halt and Catch Fire, which is largely a dramatic program (although the drama is punctuated by some very funny moments). However, we also like to keep something a little lighter—variously referred to as “fluff”, “dessert”, and/or “a marzipan confection”—as an antidote to all the heaviness. One recent auditionee was the longrunning sitcom Community, which I’d heard of but never watched. It came up a lot in discussions/reviews of Mad Men due to sharing an actress, Alison Brie, with that show, as well as with another show that I watched but was never able to get my wife interested in, despite its being set in the 80s and featuring lots of 80s music:

Wife: “Hey, isn’t that Pete’s wife? Wasn’t she in that weird wrestling thing you used to like?”

Yes, yes she was in that weird wrestling thing I used to like.

You couldn’t give it one more season, Netflix? One more season?!

Anyway, the premise of Community is that a lawyer (who so far seems kinda sleazy, although not as sleazy as, say, Saul) who’s being forced to attend a community college attempts to impress* an attractive fellow student in his Spanish class, in which he claims to be an expert, by pretending to run a study group in the subject. This being a sitcom, word about the alleged study group gets out, and it ends up being attended by a large number of let’s call them “eccentrics” who immediately start arguing, leading one of the characters to make a Breakfast Club reference. Later on in the episode, right when everyone is about to storm out (or something), one of the characters, completely out of nowhere, starts in with what appears to be a non-sequitur:

I, of course, recognized it immediately. My wife, not so much.

Me: “Oh my God! Do you know what he’s doing?”
Wife: “No.”
Me: “He’s doing Bender from Breakfast Club!”
Wife: “How would I know that?”
Me: “You’re a child of the 80s. I know you saw The Breakfast Club.”
Wife: “There’s no way I would have stayed awake for it. Okay, here’s The Breakfast Club: Molly Ringwald and a bunch of her friends sit around a table talking for two hours.”
Me: “They’re not her friends, at least, not at fir—”
Wife: “Maybe they go out for breakfast once. Bam! That’s the whole movie.”
Me (beat): “When I post this they’re going to take away your 80s card.”

Speaking of Halt and Catch Fire and losing one’s 80s card, a recent episode of that show featured a brief musical interlude that included a song which we decided was a very good mambo. Shazam (as well as the subtitles) identified this song as “Jockey Full of Bourbon” by Tom Waits:

My wife asked if all of Tom Waits’s music was like this. I said I didn’t think so, and cited as evidence the only other Tom Waits song I know, “Downtown Train”**. I found it on YouTube so that I could play a little bit of it for her:

However, she had already gotten busy on her phone with adding “Jockey Full of Bourbon” to her mambo playlist, and had stopped paying attention to what I was doing, so she apparently didn’t actually hear me when I said I was finding another Tom Waits song for her.

Wife: “Who is this singing? Rick Springsteen?”
Me: “Who?”
Wife: “Wait … Bruce Springfield?”
Me: “What?!”
Wife: “Wait wait wait … Bruce … Springsteen?”
Me: “Yes …”
Wife: “And Rick ……. Springfield?”
Me: “There you go!”

Well you know. The 80s was a long time ago, and it’s easy to get the musicians of the day mixed up.

🎶 Sing us a song tonight … 🎶

Springfield, Springsteen, it’s all rock and roll to me.

* By which I mean “con”
** The reason I am familiar with this Tom Waits song is, of course, because I like the cover version by Patty Smyth:

3 thoughts on “Sing Us A Song You’re The Piano Man

  1. Rock music does all sound the same…”thump, thump, thump…etc. My dentist plays it all the time…as if going to the dentist isn’t bad enough…


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