Saturday, June 14, 2014

Don, Belinda, And Jane On The "Zoom" (And Maybe A Few Other Things)?

The VisionQuest soundtrack. Need I say more? All right, guess I need to say a little more.

Most people may remember the VisionQuest soundtrack, if at all, as the source of Madonna's #1 hit (and first attempt at trying to seem acceptable to your parents), "Crazy For You." As discussed several years ago on this blog, more hardcore Madonna fans also know the VisionQuest soundtrack as the only place to find the Madonna obscurity "The Gambler."

All well and good, but hardly the end of the story. Nothing against Journey's "Only The Young," Dio's "Hungry For Heaven," Sammy Hagar's "I'll Fall In Love Again," and The Style Council's "Shout To The Top," but, without a doubt, for reasons I am about to explain, the VisionQuest soundtrack's most notorious track would have to be Don Henley's "She's On The Zoom."

She's on the what? Uh, Don ... "Zoom" is not a noun. That's like saying, "He picked up the Bam!" Is it like being on a Segway? I'm guessing Henley wasn't too proud of the track, as it has never appeared on any legitimate Henley album or collection. No, there is only one place to find "She's On The Zoom," and that is on the VisionQuest soundtrack. And to be fair, it is kind of crappy. But its quality or lack thereof is not what makes this song notable. What makes it notable, my friends, is that the backing vocalists are none other than Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin.

OK, OK, hold on a second, what was going on here? I wanna know: how exactly did this go down? Who was hanging out with whom? Did Belinda and Jane end up across the hall in the same studio as Don one night, and maybe he figured, 'Oh, fuck yes, I'll get the Go-Go's on my awesome soundtrack song!" Here's what I really want to know: exactly how much coke was in the studio that night? Ten grams? Twenty? I don't really know how much coke is a lot of coke. But whatever it was, it must have been a lot. I mean, you've got Don Henley and Belinda Carlisle in the same room. Actually, Don had probably outgrown the dust by that point, but I know another singer who certainly hadn't.

When did this even happen? The VisionQuest soundtrack came out in 1985, right around the time the Go-Go's broke up, and I think Jane had already left by that point anyway. My impression of that period is that Jane would have been too pissed off at Belinda to be cruising around L.A. with her more popular band mate late at night, looking for recording sessions to crash, teaming up for backing vocals, but I suppose not. The lure of the Henley is strong. I'm going to guess early 1984.

I can just see the scene several months later. Record label: "Hey Don, we need another song for the VisionQuest soundtrack, you got anything good? What's this one, 'Boys of Summer' - that kind of sounds promising." "No, no, get your hands out of there, that's all stuff for my next solo album." "Come on Donnie, we need a song, you've gotta have something lying around." "Oh yeah, there's that shitty one I tossed off at three in the morning in a blurry haze while partying with two of the Go-Go's, here, take that one."

Let's hear it for Wikipedia, because otherwise I'm not sure I would have ever caught this memorable guest spot. Although I do feel like I would have been able to recognize the big C's forceful quiver anywhere. And let's face it: not just any pair of backing vocalists could have summoned up quite the proper amount of incredulity needed on "Pictures of his car???" In the end, this whole episode is a such perfect illustration of why I love, and am endlessly amused by, Belinda Carlisle's career. I mean, here we have the rare instance of Madonna and Belinda Carlisle appearing on the very same album. But while Madonna sings lead vocals on a dramatic, career re-defining number one hit, Belinda sings blink-and-you-miss'-em backing vocals on a freaking Don Henley throwaway. And yet, the thing is, I'm pretty sure I know which singer had more fun providing her contribution.

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