Jul 182011

I like both The Fiery Furnaces and The Dead Milkmen, and I recently learned that the former made a video based around the most-influential movie of my childhood (and, possibly, entire life), Easy Rider. Each video follows for your review. Leaving the music out of it if you must—because if you’re like me you might find that the song in one of these two videos is not anywhere near a favorite in the band’s catalog—which band made better use of its source material? Choose one…after the jump!

The Fiery Furnaces, “Even in the Rain”

The Dead Milkmen, “Smokin’ Banana Peels”

While we’re hashing this out, are there other rock videos based around Easy Rider?

Which band made better use of the film Easy Rider in their video, The Fiery Furnaces ("Even in the Rain") or The Dead Milkmen ("Smokin' Banana Peels")?

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  41 Responses to “SHOWDOWN (Choose One): Who Made Better Use of Easy Rider for Their Video?”

  1. I might be disqualified from voting…but:
    We actually went to the desert in California
    We had a real live monkey in our video
    Plus Dave got to dress in drag yet again!

  2. bostonhistorian

    A guy on a scooter wearing a fez wins every time.

  3. Make sure to vote, mrclean – and make sure you make the RIGHT choice! I’d love to hear more about the making of “Smokin…”

  4. ladymisskirroyale

    I’m awarding the prize to The Dead Milkmen for accuracy in the use of the desert setting (among other things) and reference to that hallucinogenic camera work from the movie.

    But the fez/scooter combo is pretty magical.

    Mr. Royale and I had never seen this movie until recently. You have now inspired us to put “Barbarella” on our Net Flix list.

  5. The Milkmen get my vote, too. I never fail to laugh throughout it. The Fiery Furnaces one, with all those FACTS, reeks of the kind of thing that bugs me about Dusty in Memphis, or more accurately the hipster white folks who buy it and rave about it in hopes that it will make up for a lifetime devoid of actual soul records. Ugh, just thinking about those people again has given me an idea… 🙂

  6. I wondered if the “facts” business in the FF video was to tell the younger viewers that “hey, there’s an old movie called Easy Rider that we’re referencing. Please go check it out”…

  7. I like The Dead Milkmen — I will say The Fiery Furnaces lead singer is kind of cute and I like her new album.


  8. I dig that band and her Look and am intending to check out her solo album, but I was sorely disappointed in the Furnaces taking that rallying cry of my Peace Warrior movement (aka Team Hippie for the Modern Age) and turning the film’s messages into a collection of nerdy factoids. The Milkmen took the spirit of the original and ran with it. That’s what the times required then, and it’s what they require now. If a 5-year-old like myself was able to grasp the messages of Easy Rider without factoids then today’s Kidz should be able to get on board without assistance, brother.

  9. Yes sir. I am sucker for that Look.

    In unrelated Peter Fonda news — he’s got a rock movie coming out on August 5th — one of those festival pictures that’s been kicking around for a while and will simultaneously be released “on demand.”


    The blurb from Dee Snider makes me pause, but I’ve liked several latter day Peter Fonda movies — like Ulee’s Gold

  10. Sloan make reference to the beginning of Easy Rider in their video for The Good in Everyone:


  11. bostonhistorian

    Hey! My wife’s aunt wrote a bio of Dusty Springfield!

  12. Is it Dancing with Demons. I think I have a copy of that one, though I never read it all the way through.

  13. ladymisskirroyale


  14. Right, I forgot about that one!

  15. That’s cool. Maybe we can get her in the Hall for an interview! I’ve got to do some soul searching before I work up the piece I have in mind. It’s not likely to be a hit on Dusty.

  16. bostonhistorian

    It is, yes. And she’s passed away, so no interview. http://www.spectropop.com/remembers/PVobit.htm

  17. Nice article. I should mention that I just haven’t yet gotten around to reading that Dusty bio in full. I wasn’t implying that it wasn’t worth reading.

  18. I’m sorry to hear that, bostonhistorian. Very cool life she led.

  19. tonyola

    Can’t you enjoy the album for what it is without all the baggage you put on it? I’ve known black people who love Dusty in Memphis simply because it’s a good soul record, regardless of the color of the singer. Dusty had a natural gift for pacing and phrasing a song, and she used it well here.

  20. tonyola

    A great example of her ability is her famous torch-song hit, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”. A less-skilled singer would have belted out the first chorus full-force, but Dusty held back until the very last run-through (after the key change) and only goes really full-throat on the last few notes. Plus the way she handles the “Life seems dead and so unreal” line is magic.

  21. hrrundivbakshi

    I bought “Dusty in Memphis” many years ago, and I have yet to spin it all the way through. That album is a classic critical circle jerk LP to me. I have no idea what all the fuss is about, but I suspect it was a perfect storm of:

    1. Dusty being “appointed” some kind of white British saviour-queen of soul music
    2. Dusty goes to Memphis!
    3. Dusty is produced by (insert name of producer who was similarly “appointed” to be the Great American Soul Music Producer)
    4. The Muscle Shoals crew was somehow involved. Those show up all over the place, and — like the Meters — their presence alone is meant to make any half-assed album shine.


  22. Before I complete the piece I have in mind I will make sure to give the album a few more listens. Whenever I’ve heard it in the past it’s…OK, maybe even good. I just don’t hear what all the fuss is about – and I hear so much fuss about it that I get distracted. Give me a little credit: I’m not trying to cover up MY possible weakness here.

  23. I know that song. Her performance is OK, and more power to her for NOT cranking up the cheese and turning it into a David Clayton Thomas Blood, Sweat & Tears-led showstopper, but the song itself is blah and verging on the overdramatic and is stylistically about 6 years past date. It would have been a better song if it were a little more simple, like an actual song from 1960, and it would have been a better performance if the singer had more of a plain girl group voice. In my opinion, of course.

  24. tonyola

    Granted, the time of the over-the-top dramatic pop song was fading, but in 1965-1967 there was still room on the charts for hits like Little Anthony’s “Hurt So Bad”, Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”, or Billy Stewart’s bizarre and remarkable version of “Summertime”. Even then, the style didn’t fade as much as transform into marginally “groovier” stuff like “MacArthur Park” and “If I Can Dream”.

  25. misterioso

    Mod, can you explain your take on Easy Rider? What I have towards it is deep ambivalence: most of the movie is a draaag, man. Here and there it comes to life with some memorable sequences. An iconic film? Absolutely. One I really want to sit through in its entirety? Not really. But maybe you are not making an argument for the greatness of the film, only its influence?

  26. True, but I do think the 3 outdated songs you mentioned were better songs. Trust me, I’ll revisit the album and be fair to it – but I want all the hipsters (and, no offense, I don’t consider you one of those sorts – you’ve clearly got a deep music knowledge and, more importantly, love) to be fair about the dearth of actual soul records they own, especially those not cut with, as HVB so duly noted, the Muscle Shoals crew or the Meters. If Dusty in Memphis is a gateway to soul music for these people, then more power to the Dusty in Memphis and more power to those who followed the trail.

  27. In my link to an earlier piece in which I reminisce on the influence the movie had on me – in conjunction with a double-bill of Hell’s Angels on Wheels – I don’t think I make any claims to the greatness of the movie. In the 12-15 times I’ve seen it since I was a boy I’ve enjoyed a number of good scenes and suffered through some really bad ones. As iconic ’60s movies go (eg, A Clockwork Orange), I don’t think the quality of the movie ranks anywhere near as high as its influence on my young psyche. The facial hair, the Steppenwolf, the choppers…that’s the stuff that blew my mind. When I saw it again in high school the drug culture cool was also more directly influential than the film-making, which I do like, for the most part. Sounds like you would agree with some of this?

  28. tonyola

    I agree that Easy Rider isn’t the most fun film to watch because it’s often amateurish, very dated, and basically has no current relevance, but sometimes there’s a difference between an “important” film and a “great” film. The movie was important in that studio heads saw that there was a big market for true counterculture films as opposed to the hippie-drug-biker exploitation films that came previously. It opened up the door for a lot of more realistic and “personal” movies in the 1970s as well as a lot of new directorial and acting talent.

  29. tonyola

    Now don’t get me wrong here. I make no claims that Dusty in Memphis should be in anyone’s desert-island music collection. I wouldn’t call it a great album but it’s a good one – an experiment that could have been a huge flop but ended up largely being a success.

  30. bostonhistorian

    Count me as a fan of Dusty in Memphis. I’ll save my analysis and defense for when Mr. Moderator does his post on the subject.

  31. bostonhistorian

    One need only see “Psych-Out” with Jack Nicholson to see the truth in what Tonyola says….

  32. BigSteve

    I love Dusty, and I have over a dozen albums by her. I like In Memphis just fine, but I really like the twofer reissues of her earlier albums where she recorded all kinds of stuff — soul covers, Italian ballads, pure pop, showtunes, bossa nova, a little bit of everything. I even like her later adult contemporary stuff. She was a great singer, and there’s no reason to fault her for all the people who might like her for the ‘wrong’ reasons.

  33. It’s the film most often cited as killing off the old Hollywood studio system, and opening the door to the era of the director as king (which was later killed off by the era of the blockbuster). “Important”, yes, but I find “Psych-Out” (which was, coincidentally, directed by Richard Rush, also the director of “Hell’s Angels on Wheels”, also featuring Jack) more entertaining. There’s A LOT of meandering in “Easy Rider”, with several classic scenes interspersed between.

  34. Psych-Out’s a winner, I agree! I was watching an old Brian DePalma (?) movie a few weeks ago, Sisters. I’ve been meaning to look it up: is the African American guy who goes home with Margot Kidder and gets (SPOILER ALERT) hacked to death the same actor who plays the drummer in Psych-Out who (SPOILER ALERT) freaks out on acid with a chainsaw?

  35. misterioso

    Gotcha. Yes, I am pretty much on board with that and with tonyola’s comments. I sort of see Easy Rider as the Never Mind the Bollocks of Hollywood cinema: I recognize and appreciate the impact it had without enjoying it all that much itself, though with a few highlights, of course.

  36. Mod, the drummer in PSYCH-OUT is Max Julien, who was also the lead in THE MACK. By the way, he wasn’t the guy who freaked out; that was future director, Henry Jaglom.

    The guy in SISTERS, which is one of my favorite Brian DePalma Hitchcock rips (& he’s done plenty), is Lisle Wilson. He’s most recognizable from his many TV roles in the 70s & 80s…and from THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN.

  37. Damn, I knew you would straighten this out for me! Thanks, brother.

  38. No prob. That PSYCH-OUT cast was pretty amazing: Jack, Max, Henry, Dean Stockwell, Bruce Dern, Susan Strasberg….. and Gary Marshall as a plainclothes cop. I guess Hopper must have been busy working on a biker flick that month.

  39. …and I don’t mean EASY RIDER.

  40. tonyola

    Special mention must be made of the producer of Psych-Out: Dick Clark. Yes, the Dick Clark.

  41. Makes sense to me. The target audience was the under-30 crowd, which is what made him rich in the first place. Probable thought it was a good investment (The Trip had already been a big box office success)…and he was right.
    Jack came up with the original script for this (as he had for THE TRIP the year before), but Rush thought it was too “experimental”, so they toned it down & turned it into a ‘youth’ picture, which was the specialty of the distributor, American International Pictures. Nicholson wrote the part of “Stoney” for himself (he didn’t get writer’s credit of the finished film, though).

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