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A pace that kills

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OKLAHOMA CITY – When the opening guitar chords came on, I immediately recognized it as Joy Division’s 1980 song “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

This melancholy song has been resonating a lot with me, as we note that 2015 is exactly 35 years since the suicide of singer Ian Curtis and “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was released shortly after Curtis’s death and Joy Division then morphed into New Order.

Hearing the song in my dream – Curtis’s sad voice – I think of its placement in Donnie Darko, a film so laden with synchronicities that it would take several more pages to address them.

Curtis was clearly dealing with depression and medical problems

As I listen to “Love Will Tear Us Apart” in my dream state, it suddenly fades as the opening chords of Van Halen’s 1978 hit “Runnin’ With the Devil” takes over. Powerful. Raw.

Van Halen? Where the hell did that come from?

When I started thinking about, it made some sync-sense.

And while I advocate hard for Echo & The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon,” “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is probably the strongest and most unifying song in Donnie Darko. Time and circumstance keep Gretchen and Donnie “apart.” Watch this fan video featuring scenes from Donnie Darko as “Love Will Tear Us Apart” plays in its entirety. It really makes sync-sense then. Recall that Donnie only has 28 days, 6 hours, 4 minutes and 12 seconds left ...

Fate, up against your will.

(As a side note, in The Jim Gaffigan Show, Jim’s friend David (Adam Goldberg) lives at home with his mother and features a poster promoting a concert by Echo & The Bunnymen and New Order … hmmm.)

But what of “Runnin’ With the Devil”? Well, if we are to believe David Lee Roth and the band, the song is not satanic, rather it is about living life on the edge, being in a hard-rocking band where things can be, well, pretty hard. They are “runnin’ with the devil” in a “devil-may-care” rock n’ roll fashion, taking life as it comes to them.

“I live my life like there’s no tomorrow,” Roth sings in the first verse. Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) has limited amount of time. Roth, as Eddie Van Halen offers up an absolutely wicked guitar solo adds that he is keeping " a pace that kills." 



As we have noted previously, Donnie Darko, with its time-travel element, features references to Back to the Future.

In my DDD piece “Returning to earth,” I note how Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) tries to get his future father George McFly (Crispin Glover) to ask his future mother out for the high school “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance.

Don't melt my brain!

I wrote: “Marty father, George McFly (Crispin Glover), is, in 1955, a burgeoning sci-fit writer (George’s novel A Match Made in Space would become a hit – later), obsessed with flying saucers and extraterrestrials. He’s misunderstood and bullied. And when Marty comes up with the idea of playing a tape of an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo over his Walkman, while wearing a spaceman-esque radiation suit, things star coming together.”

The guitar solo, Eddie Van Halen later admitted, was “just a bunch of noise.” And the fretwork is scary and disarming for 1955 George McFly, as is Marty, dressed in his spaceman suit. 

The song “Runnin’ With the Devil” is the opening track on Van Halen’s eponymous debut in ’78. The eerie, otherworldly “horn” sounds, according to an article on the song at the Van Halen News Desk website, says the ominous horns were “taken from the band’s own cars, including Alex’s Opel, Eddie’s Volvo, a Mercedes Benz and a Volkswagen.”

Notes the VHND article about "Runnin' With the Devil": "Perhaps the most striking feature of this song is Van Halen’s raw, violent and hungry attitude. It’s the kind of thing that only exists during that magical make-or-break moment when a band announces its presence to the world at large." The song would later be voted the ninth most popular hard rock song of all time, according to VH-1. Or is that Van Halen One?

Taking it back to Donnie Darko, recalls that Frank’s honking horn that summons Donnie out of bed and prevents Donnie from being crushed by the falling jet engine.

Darko director Richard Kelly had been working on a film called Amicus with Nicolas Cage playing a character named Lawrence Horn. It was supposed to have been completed by now but little more is known about it. 

Dead Man ferryman and Pluto resonator Crispin Glover, we should note, appeared in an obscure film called Twister (no, not that Twister), in which he appears with William S. Burroughs. Ill-fated Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis was reportedly obsessed with the writer, with an old friend saying Curtis would go on about "Burroughs, Burroughs, Burroughs."

And finally, if you're interested in knowing what Crispin Glover (noted here in "Northwest passage (pt. 1)")has been up to lately, note this July 2015 Guardian interview where the eccentric actor and director is compared to the aforementioned Nicolas Cage: "As an actor, Glover has long been the fascinating answer to the rarely asked question: “What would Nicolas Cage’s weirder and more talented brother be like?” Like Cage, Glover has always refused to cut his decidedly eccentric acting style to the cloth of the film he’s in, whether it’s a quality teen movie (Back to the Future, River's Edge) an arthouse gem (Dead Man), a big budget studio movie (Alice in Wonderland) or an easy comedy (Hot Tub Time Machine). Whether he’s excellent (his performance as George McFly remains one of my favorite performances of all time) or hammy as hell, he’s always fascinating to watch as he out-acts everyone else on screen, much to their often visible bemusement."

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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