Song Of The Day 7/19/2013: Stan Bush - "The Touch"

I'm a fairly unrepentant fan of movie director Paul Thomas Anderson. Yes, even Magnolia, although repeated viewings of that film over the last few years made me realize it's a preposterous, wandering mess. Every time I see it I get reminded of a heavy mescaline habit I never had. But I love Boogie Nights still. This was the epic, grand-scale film about the porn industry of the '70s and '80s nobody realized needed to be made. But Anderson knew it did. He was correct.

There's a scene in the movie just past the halfway point. The '80s have arrived, and the so-called "Golden Age of Porn" is giving way to cheap, plotless VHS porn. Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) is getting older and has talked himself out of the inner circle of Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), the porn director who turned him into a star. So in 1983 he decides to try and forge a pop music career with friend Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly). They go to a studio (the movie supposes it's the famous-again Sound City) to lay down some tracks with a recording engineer named Nick (real singer Michael Penn, who is perfect in the role of an audio professional who has to endure shit like this so he can hang out with Tom Petty). The song they do is called "You Got The Touch." Here's the scene:
"Nick? Were you rolling on the rehearsal?" Heh heh heh.

So all these years I thought the song "You Got The Touch" was composed specifically for Boogie Nights, one of the many pitch-perfect details of the film that caught the times. I figured Michael Penn, who also scored the movie, managed to piece together the song based on all the pop-rock clichés he had to endure in the '80s. But last night, when I was searching for this scene on YouTube, I discovered a clip called "You've Got The Touch" by an artist named Stan Bush. No, it couldn't be, it can't have been a real song, can it?

Clicked on it. I was stunned. "You Got The Touch" was an actual song from the '80s. But that's not the best part. The actual name of the song is simply "The Touch," and it was also written for a movie: a Sylvester Stallone vehicle* called Cobra. It wasn't on the soundtrack, but it managed to get recycled in 1986 for another movie -- nothing less, astonishingly, amazingly, than Transformers: The Movie! This was the animated Transformers movie, the first ever to bear the title of the franchise.

Bush has re-recorded "The Touch" several times since, usually in conjunction with other movies (including the first live-action -- I mean, CGI-action Transformers movie). A version with a rap verse exists. This has now deepened my appreciation for Boogie Nights to an expanse unknown. Have the touch you do, Stan Bush.

(*By the way, is it the kiss of artistic death for an actor when they stop calling your movies "movies" and start calling them "vehicles"? Do your SAG dues go up or something?)

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