Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Urge Overkill via Pulp Fiction - "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon"

Release Dates: September 27, 1994

When Did I Download This? Just two nights ago, actually. Over Thanksgiving Weekend, between stuffing my face with stuffing and turkey and hanging with friends and family, I’ve been reading a series of excellent articles at the AV Club covering music from the 1990’s entitled Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation? So far it’s done a fantastic job of not only portraying rock’s grunge period and what it meant to us as teenagers growing up, but also how different alternative music was before the internet. Hyden says, “underground music was really underground; you had to venture out and look for it, and only after somebody let you in on the secret that it was actually there.” In a line he succinctly writes what I spent a lot of my time talking about in my Vampire Weekend and Violent Femmes posts. As a teenager, hours were devoted to scouring liner notes and indie magazines (sometimes unavailable in small town stores), talking to friends, catching small-time opening acts, and most importantly watching MTV. Another platform was movie soundtracks; The Crow, Juice, Reality Bites, Trainspotting, and one of the more classic R&B and rock inclined, Pulp Fiction, and they would all act as points to expand our musical boundaries.

Somehow in October of 1994, as a 14-year old kid, a couple of friends and I were able to sneak in to a theater to see the violent, profane, no-doubt-about-it ‘R’-rated Pulp Fiction. While I vaguely remember liking it, probably more for all the f-bombs being thrown around than grasping how great of a movie it truly was, it wouldn’t forever hold a place in my conscious until a friend bought the VHS sometime later. I remember him playing it incessantly, sometimes simply acting as background noise while we took turns playing guitar or Gameboy. I could tell he dug the music just as much as the movie, which, being as he was two years my senior and I looked up to him, made me really dig it as well. There was the surf tune from Dick Dale, Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher’s Man, and Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” But my favorite was from the scene immediately following the twist contest. There’s something both sexy and hip about the moment when Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) begins that old music reel, strums the opening chord to “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” on her air guitar, and breaks in to a frenzied dance when the song crescendos. Though it's very unhip when she ultimately overdoses on Vince’s (John Travolta) heroin.

Every time I came across Pulp Fiction on TV, or the film came up in discussion, I tried to remind myself I needed to grab the soundtrack. But I always forgot. In fact, I didn’t even know the song from my favorite scene is a cover of Neil Young performed by Urge Overkill up until this past Sunday, while I was reading the fourth entry of Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation? I like the limited amount of Neil Young’s discography I’ve collected, and I had heard of Urge Overkill, but I didn’t have wiki or youtube as an immediate reference point back then to look up where the song originated. I've never remembered to look at the back of a Pulp Fiction soundtrack in all those years since. Two nights ago, I went over to my computer, clicked the mouse button a few times, and “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” was loaded in to my music library. I’ve already played it a few times. It’s a good song, but after all these years I think I like it better in the context of an unknown classic from an unforgettable scene in that great 1994 film.

(Note: I know this should have preceded Ugly Casanova, but being as I just downloaded Urge Overkill two nights ago, that would've been impossible. I felt it wouldn’t hurt to go backwards (or forwards) one entry.)

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