The Goldblum Effect and American Pie

Briefly I thought it might be Funky President by James Brown, which has a reference to the stock market going up.

Greg Burgas, one of the first bloggers I knew (but haven’t met) was musing about The Goldblum Effect, which he invented. It is “when you’re convinced something exists and no one else remembers it… but you’re totally right.”

Greg notes, “But these days, if you believe you saw or read something and no one else does, you can probably find it on the internet.” Unless you can’t.

Eddie, another one of my long-time blogger buddies, was having one of those same feelings, but without resolution:

“I have memories of being about fourth or fifth grade and getting an LP for Christmas–one of those educational types–that was all original songs for kids about American history. I can still remember snippets of the songs. The one about the stock market crash in 1929 had a chanted refrain (“Stocks are going up! Going up!”) that kept building and building until the crash happens. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the album or who put it out. Of course, my copy is long, long gone.

“It’s one of those things I would love to find one day at a thrift, if only to prove to myself that I am not hallucinating and that the opening song really, inexplicably, was……American Pie! Surely, I cannot be misremembering something as bizarre at that. Surely.”

First, I looked for compilations with American Pie. There are several, including this one, but the other tunes are pop songs.

Then I tried to ascertain the other recording. Briefly I thought it might be Funky President by James Brown, which has a reference to the stock market going up.

But I think the song is most likely Society Bear, or That Society Bear, by Irving Berlin, although it’s actually from 1912!

As for the compilation, though, I’m afraid I just don’t know. Any thoughts?

I related to this topic because I know a lot of things, but I don’t always know HOW I know them, and occasionally, I am trying to prove that I’m not just making stuff up can prove elusive.

Good luck, Eddie!

James Dean – d. 9/30/55

It’s clear, though, that Bob Dylan “got” it about James Dean, and that Don McLean understood that Dylan “got” it.


I’m not sure that most people can fully understand cultural phenomena that take place before they were born, or aware of the outside world. A person born after 1968 could appreciate the Beatles’ music, but could he or she understand Beatlemania?

Well, that’s how I am about the actor James Dean, who died 55 years ago today, not to be confused with Jimmy Dean, the sausage guy who died recently. I recognize him as a cultural icon, though he was in only three major movies, two of which were released posthumously. I understand it intellectually, but I didn’t “get” it.

CBS News has done at least two stories about Dean; here’s just a snippet of one, James Dean’s cousin Marcus Winslow takes Steve Kroft on a tour of Dean’s museum and his final resting place.

Here’s the song Message From James Dean by Bill Hayes.

It’s clear, though, that Bob Dylan “got” it, and that Don McLean understood that Dylan “got” it. In this FAQ about McLean’s American Pie, referring to the line, “In a coat he borrowed from James Dean”:

In the movie “Rebel Without a Cause”, James Dean has a red windbreaker that holds symbolic meaning throughout the film… In one particularly intense scene, Dean lends his coat to a guy who is shot and killed; Dean’s father arrives, sees the coat on the dead man, thinks it’s Dean, and loses it. On the cover of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”, Dylan is wearing just such as red windbreaker and is posed in a street scene similar to one shown in a well-known picture of James Dean. Bob Dylan played a command performance for the Queen and Prince Consort of England. He was not properly attired, so perhaps this is a reference to his apparel…
James Dean’s red windbreaker is important throughout the film, not just at the end. When he put it on, it meant that it was time to face the world, time to do what he thought had to be done, and other melodramatic but thoroughly enjoyable stuff like that. The week after the movie came out, virtually every clothing store in the U.S. was sold out of red windbreakers. Remember that Dean’s impact was similar to Dylan’s: both were a symbol for the youth of their time, a reminder that they had something to say and demanded to be listened to.

But maybe I began to understand better when I read what Wendy wrote about first seeing Rebel Without A Cause:
Here was a character who felt unloved and unseen by his parents just like me. He was also an outcast at his high-school which I completely understood. What I didn’t understand though was how could anyone not fall in love with a character like “Jim”. That was the first time that James Dean touched me with his magic.

As I watched the movie further, I realized that Jim represented all the loneliness, angst, and anger that teenagers either flaunt or hide. He was the antithesis of the shiny smile-y, white-bread teenager that was hailed in the 1950s. Jim didn’t care about how he appeared and couldn’t hide the pain that he wore like a cloak.

THAT, I GET.
***
Eddie Fisher died last week. I don’t remember his singing career at all – and I knew singers of his era – and all that leaving Debbie Reynolds for Liz Taylor stuff was before my recollecting, too. Mostly, for me, he was Carrie Fisher’s dad.