Brad Brooks, a Bay-area rocker who’s most recent album has an interesting Lee Marvin reference, was stumbled upon by yours truly while Googling for any Marvin mention in the media. It’s a kickass song and I can tell you honestly, I’ve never heard of the guy!
His website describes him thusly: “Brad Brooks is that rare quadruple threat of writer, player, singer, and performer. His songs combine the melodic sensibility of Elvis Costello, the best instincts of Wilco and Brian Wilson, the orchestral sophistication of Queen, along w/the Stones/Bowie gritty edges of rock/soul.”
Okay, fair enough, but truth be told I hear more than a little reference to such blue-collar rockers as John Fogerty and Bruce Springsteen. Such promo hype aside, I listened to the song recently and my girlfriend and I both agree. The man can rock! Now I don’t know if Lee Marvin ever used an Uzi in life (he did in (Delta Force) but the imagery works for me. As to the “Prime Time Rapist,” might that be a veiled Trump reference? Hmm…. – Dwayne Epstein
Lee Marvin & the boys of Delta Force with their collective Uzis.
Cover of the Brad Brooks Album GOD SAVE THE CITY which includes the single, LEE MARVIN’S UZI.
LEE MARVIN’S UZI
IT WAS MORNING HOTTER THAN HELL KNOCKED ON THE DOOR HEARD A VOICE THAT I KNEW SO WELL SAW IT OUT THE CORNER MY EYE LIKE IT WAS GOLD LEE MARVIN’S UZI HAD A STORY UNTOLD A BIG BLUE MARLIN HANGING ON THE WALL LEE MARVIN’S UZI WASN’T SMALL
AS I MET THE MAN IT BECAME SO SURREAL IT WAS SITTIN RIGHT THERE BETWEEN US TO STEAL HE SAID “I’D HATE TO USE IT, BUT ITS THERE” LEE MARVIN’S UZI DIDN’T CARE LIKE LIBERTY VALANCE OR KID SHELLEEN LEE MARVIN’S UZI IT COULD STING
JUST IN CASE BECAME JUST THE PAST DON’T PAINT YOUR WAGON BETTER MAKE IT FAST THE PRIME TIME RAPIST WAS IN THE AIR LEE MARVIN’S UZI IT WAS WAITING THERE LIKE LIBERTY VALANCE OR KID SHELLEEN LEE MARVIN’S UZI IT WAS MEAN IT WAS MEAN IT WAS MEAN IT WAS MEAN
Bruce Springsteen, New Jersey’s legendary rocker, recently celebrated his 71st birthday –Sept. 23rd, to be exact — and as such, I thought it a good time to explore the possible connection between the man’s music (one song in particular), and a possible Lee Marvin connection.
Terrific cover art for the VHS release of POINT BLANK.
Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know why I titled the book what I did as it’s explained in the introduction. Yes, it’s partly due to the title of one of his signature films, but there’s actually more to it than that.
What does any of this have to do with Bruce Springsteen, you may ask? Well, to start with, Springsteen has often utilized imagery from films in his work, which is why I thought there may indeed be a Lee Marvin connection. For example, having been a long time fan, I was amazed the way in which he opened the first concert I ever saw. The arena went dark and over the sound system came the following dialog: “Me and the boys got us some work to do. Wanna come along? Won’t be like the old days….but it’ll do.” That end dialog from The Wild Bunch (a film Lee Marvin almost made, by the way), lead to the stage lights coming up and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band launching into Buddy Holly’s rocking “Oh Boy!” For the next four hours, I was enthralled and then exhausted by evening’s end. “The Boss’ put on one hell of a show!
Article in the L.A. newspaper for the first Springsteen show I saw back in 1980
That aside, Springsteen’s film references include everything from titling one of his signature songs “Thunder Road,” after the 1958 cult Robert Mitchum film, to to the title of his album The Ghost of Tom Joad, as in the character Henry Fonda played in the John Steinbeck adapted film, The Grapes of Wrath. Even more pervasive are the lyrics chosen for some of his songs. Take for example, “Cadillac Ranch” in which he borrows imagery from the likes Rebel Without a Cause, The Last American Hero and Smokey & The Bandit: “James Dean in that Mercury ’49 Junior Johnson runnin’ thru the woods of Caroline Even Burt Reynolds in that black Trans Am all gonna meet down at the Cadillac Ranch.”
1980 line-up of the E Street Band :(L-R) Bassist Gary Tallent,guitarist Steve Van Zandt, organist Danny Federici, Springsteen, drummer Max Weinberg, pianist Roy Bittan, and saxophonist Clarence Clemmons.
Which brings us to the haunting lyrics of “Point Blank” from his 1980 double album, “The River.” The song concerns the end of a romance in which the narrator describes how his ex-lover has been destroyed by her experiences. At one point in the song, he dreams they are dancing together again, only to wake up and discover she’s standing in the doorway trying to stay out of the rain “looking like just another stranger waitin’ to get blown away.” Hence the title and chorus, “Point Blank”.
Libretto from THE RIVER for “Point Blank.”
Granted, it’s hardly the same premise or theme as the Marvin film. However, creative entities, such as Springsteen can be motivated in the most interesting of ways. Since he clearly is quite literate when it comes to film iconography, one can easily picture him watching the film one night and grabbing a pad and pencil with an idea once the premise of the film is established. Is Walker alive or dead? As Walker himself asks, what is all a dream that he was double-crossed by his wife and best friend then left for dead? It certainly is not a new premise for a writer to create a theme of blurred lines between life and death, or dreams and reality. I believe Ambrose Bierce’s classic 1890 short story “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” set the standard for such a theme. A personal favorite is Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got His Gun,” which realistically established a character grappling with the ability to know whether he is asleep or awake. In other words, Walker of Point Blank may have very well inspired Springsteen to use the premise as a springboard for what he would utilize as a dark concept of a tortured romance. Pure supposition, for sure, but certainly not unlikely. Judge for yourself in the video below and in closing, happy birthday, Bruce Springsteen! – Dwayne Epstein
Royce Epstein, my mother, passed away exactly ten years ago as of September 18th of this year. A lot has happened in those ten years that I wish she could have lived to see. Her first granddaughter, Natalie, graduated from Cal Tech, went on to Cornell, married a great guy and is living her dream as a research scientist. Her other granddaughter, spunky little Danielle, also graduated with honors, works in a phenomenal occupation and is engaged to a future U.S. Army officer.
My niece, Natalie (left), my mom (center) and Natalie’s sister Danielle at Natatalie’s Cal Tech graduation.
My sister, Belinda, Natalie & Danielle’s mother, has successfully retired from the phone company and is spending her retirement volunteering for various causes for which my mother would have been very proud. My other sister, Fern, is a surgery R.N. specially trained in robotics and is looking forward to retirement soon. Not bad for a family of transplanted Coney Islanders.
As for me, my mother missed out on the one accomplishment she would have also been extremely proud of but was also partly responsible for….
How was she responsible? My love of movies came directly from her, and although she wasn’t much of a Lee Marvin fan, she knew and appreciated his work, which is why she would have been proud to see Lee Marvin Point Blankpublished, let alone make the NY Times Bestseller list.
Naturally, I miss her dearly but she was a difficult person to get along with a lot of times. As a cousin of mine said when my mom came up in conversation, “Your mother, Royce Epstein, was a force of nature.” I considered that an apt description.
There were good and bad times in dealing with my mom but now that she’s been gone for a decade, I like to remember the good times. My favorite childhood memory of her was watching old movies together. I remember being woken up in the middle of the night by her if a classic she always wanted me to see was on the Late Show, or if a cherished favorite was being repeated. When I reached adulthood, and went to the movies with friends, I’d get home late at night and she’d ask me to tell her all about what I had seen. Usually, is was a classic playing in downtown L.A. somewhere and I’d spend the next hour or so telling her all about it. She made me, like herself, a lifelong movie fan. For that reason, more than probably anything else, I am most grateful to her. I do regret that she, nor my dad, lived long enough to see my book published. I like to think of it in terms of the last few lines Bruce Springsteen wrote in a song about his mom called “The Wish.” This is for you, ma…
“And if it’s a funny old world, ma,
where a little boy’s wishes come true.
Well I got a few in my pocket and a special one just for you.”
– Dwayne Epstein
Some time in the 1980s, my mother and I in our family room doing what we did best, watching old movies.