Song Of The Day 10/19/2013: David Shire - "Manhattan Skyline"

You're not going to believe this, but I just now finished watching Saturday Night Fever for the first time ever. When it came out I was too young to see it. When I was finally old enough, the "disco sucks" backlash was still just enough in effect that anything associated with the disco era -- especially its signature movie and album -- had all the lure and charm of a canker sore. So I just never got around to watching the flick until now.

There might not be a better movie about being 19. There's no romanticism whatsoever about the age 19. You don't get a bar mitzvah, you're not "sweet 16," graduation from mandated schooling is in the long rear view, and in most cases you don't even get to lose your virginity anymore. It's the awkward year after high school when you technically don't have to start being an adult, but have to start figuring it out. I don't think it even matters if you go to college or not. In fact college might make it even more troubling. If you had a moral center before, the lack or change of routine at age 19 probably threw your sense of morality into chaos. You seek adventure first and don't stop to think about morality unless you screwed something up. Everyone in Saturday Night Fever is hormonal, angry and combustible. They do stupid things, and they say some really stupid things. No movie has ever gotten those characterizations quite as right as Saturday Night Fever, and it says something that John Badham was able to carve compelling portraits of people who, let's face it, have no idea what the fuck they're doing or going to do. They're hanging on to a rapidly decaying firmament and they can't figure out what to feel about anything. Even the payoff dance contest at the end of the movie doesn't deliver the tension release it is, according to Hollywood, supposed to bring.

There was also some disco in it. A little. You all known the Bee Gees' songs, so here's a formulaic yet kind of warm instrumental from the movie by David Shire. Dance or commiserate to it at your leisure.

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