Thursday, May 5, 2011

Forgotten Movie Songs #12: "I Will Always Be With You" from VOICES

Jimmy Webb deserves a medal for being one of America's great songwriters. Though he's a musician and performer, he's not someone you can recall seeing play live. He's mainly become famous for his radically dramatic songs alone. You know his smash hits, even if you think you don't. Here's a sample:

**"MacArthur Park" (performed by Richard Harris and Donna Summer)
**"By The Time I Get To Phoenix" (performed by Glen Campbell and Isaac Hayes)
**"Wichita Lineman" (performed by Glen Campbell)
**"Up, Up and Away" (performed by The Fifth Dimension)
**"Galveston" (performed by Glen Campbell)
**"The Worst That Could Happen" (performed by Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge)
**"Didn't We" (performed by Frank Sinatra, and Richard Harris)
**"Just This One Time" (performed by Glen Campbell and Cher)
**"That's All I've Got To Say" (performed by Jeff Bridges)
**"The Moon's A Harsh Mistress" (performed by Linda Rondstadt, Judy Collins, and Joe Cocker)
"All I Know" (performed by Art Garfunkel)

In 1979, Jimmy Webb--after becoming a multi-Grammy-winning, purely songwriting superstar--wrote a few songs for a little romantic film called Voices. In it, Michael Ontkean played a wannabe Brooklyn songster who falls in love with a deaf Manhattanite dancer, played by Amy Irving. Voices still remains one of my most desired DVD releases; it's a cult item unlike any out there. Those that have seen this pure, precious tale have never forgotten it---it's impossibly romantic. The interesting thing is that Robert Markowitz's film retains a gritty, urban feel, thanks to its scuzzy locations and its precise supporting cast (including Godfather veteran Alex Rocco, Fame and Saturday Night Fever sport Barry Miller, and legendary acting teacher Herbert Berghof, all of whom played Ontkean's immediate, impatient, blue-collar family).

Never, in Voices, do we not believe in the love story at its center. Jimmy Webb's stunning song "I Will Always Be With You" arrives at the film's ultimate point. It's the culmination of a very dramatic and stressful story (though the movie is delicate, it also maintains an air of NYC grittiness). But, when its moment arrives, the song packs a helluva punch. Michael Ontkean is lip-synching to former Guess Who frontman Burton Cummings as he serenades his co-star here, performing the song in sign language (which, even typing this, makes me tear up; I'm such a wuss). "I Will Always Be With You" is a whole lot better than countless other love songs that've captivated wide audiences. It is certainly one of cinema's finest forgotten songs:

Clocks in the parking lot
Watching the time
Watch on a steeplechase
Starting to chime
Timepieces holding
My life in their hands
Always remind me
Behind me, behind me

But I will always wait for you
Take my time and count on you
Somehow I know I'll make it through
Until I feel you
Until I hear you
Until I see you

Second hand sweeping
Our minutes to trial
Ticking the future
Away on the dial
But I'm not afraid
I'll be late for a while
The future surrounds me
The moment has found me

And I will always be with you
Take my time and count on you
Somehow I know we'll make it do
Now that I feel you
Now that I see you
Now that I hear you

And here is Jimmy Webb at the piano, with Art Garfunkel and Cher debating who loves Jimmy Webb more, and then launching into a medley:

In another Jimmy Webb clip, from the UK's Jools Holland, we find, he was born in Oklahoma and raised in East Texas:

And finally, his greatest song, performed by the man himself:

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