I returned from vacation this week to find that fall had fallen like Robert Downey Jr. down a K-hole. (Did they have K-holes in the 80s? No matter, he probably did it at some point.) So it’s no coincidence that all week I’ve been singing this spectacular song. No, the leaves aren’t brown yet, but the sky is most definitely a hazy shade of winter.
Unless it’s anything ever written and performed by Bob Dylan, I usually like original versions of songs better. “Hazy Shade of Winter” is an excellent example of a number that that started as a reasonably well-performed ditty by two of the greatest harmonizers in history; it rocks a little harder than most Simon & Garfunkel songs, but that’s like saying James Spader was slightly less douchey in “Pretty in Pink” than he was in “Less than Zero.” Enter The Bangles, who started off in the LA punk underground, but leaped into the 80s pop scene with all the energy of 99 luftballoons rising into the German sun. A few crocodiles and donuts later, and they had all the street cred of Justin Timberlake, pre-SNL.
Then they got hired to do a song for a soundtrack. “Less Than Zero,” for those that have forgotten, stars James Spader in the 80s with a twist (he’s a drug-dealing douchebag, instead of just a plain ol’ douchebag), Andrew McCarthy as a sensitive friend, Jami Gertz as the sensitive girlfriend, and Robert Downey Jr. as himself. The movie has cocaine and blowjobs for cocaine and sports cars and hot tubs, and it’s currently being used as a tutorial for speechwriters too young to know how fucking radical the Reagan years were.
But that’s aside from the fact that The Bangles took Simon and Garfunkel and turned that shit up to twelve. Rumor has it that Art Garfunkel’s hair straightened in response to the four-part harmony, driving guitar and pounding drums. No firm report on what happened to Paul Simon, but it’s said he disappeared into Africa for several years, wondering how four young lassies had managed to rock harder than the guy who actually was a rock.