Saturday, May 11, 2013

Why Is Jennifer Warnes Singing With That Homeless Guy?

An Officer and a Gentleman is another one of those '80s movies that everybody supposedly remembers fondly but that I've never seen. Occasional random viewings of the ending, where Richard Gene romantically carries Debra Winger out of a factory in his arms, pretty much zapped any curiosity I might have had. I just remember The Simpsons making fun of it one time.

I'm not here to talk about An Officer and a Gentleman, however. I'm here to talk about the song that played over that inspiring/groan-inducing ending. "Up Where We Belong" may have been the most unlikely pairing of beauty and the beast since Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle (and perhaps wasn't outdone until the pairing of Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue). In one corner, we have the sweet, angelic, countrified soprano of Jennifer Warnes, who sounds like she just came back from a Disney soundtrack. In the other corner, we have the craggy, booze-soaked growl of Joe Cocker, a singer who perennially sounds like he is splitting his own throat in half. On paper, it should have been a disaster. But in the studio, it was hot, sweaty soft-rock magic.

By the time the chorus comes, Warnes doesn't even know what to do in relation to the seizure victim standing next to her, so she essentially just lays low and lets Joe fly his freak flag. An actual eagle crying does not sound as sickly and tortured as Joe does when he is singing that lyric.

1 comment:

Herr Zrbo said...

A few years ago on American Idol they dragged Joe Cocker up on stage, and it was certainly a "hey some homeless guy has gotten on stage, get him off of there" kind of moment. If you think he looked bad in the 80s, imagine him much older with missing teeth.