Monday, February 14, 2011

"Rock Box" Track of the Day: The Jackson 5, "Never Can Say Goodbye"

This is the final shot of Crooklyn before the awesome closing credits montage of Soul Train clips. The tune during this shot is not 'Never Can Say Goodbye.' It's 'Mighty Love' by The Spinners. I couldn't find any good shots from the 'Never Can Say Goodbye' sequence online. Plus, that compressed anamorphic shit Spike Lee did with the shots in that sequence ain't exactly easy on the eyes.
Song: "Never Can Say Goodbye" by The Jackson 5
Released: 1971
Why's it part of the "Rock Box" playlist?: It was featured in 1994's Crooklyn, one of my favorite Spike Lee Joints. In an A.V. Club "Random Roles" piece that was posted last week, Crooklyn star Delroy Lindo said his film, which flopped at the box office, found its fans on video:
One of the things that's been interesting about the legacy of the film is that I can't tell you how often I'm walking down the street and somebody will come up to me and say something like, "My daughter loves that film," "My daughter knows every scene in that film," "My daughter went through a period where she would come home from school and put in the VHS of Crooklyn." I mean, I hear that a lot, or people saying, "Oh my God, that was my family." And not just African-Americans. I've had white people say "You know what, I'm from Brooklyn, that was my film; that's so evocative for me of my family, of my past."
Which moment in Crooklyn does "Never Can Say Goodbye" appear?: The sequence where Troy (Zelda Harris) heads back to Brooklyn and says goodbye to both her Virginia-based cousin and compressed anamorphic widescreen (to the relief of viewers who were annoyed by the way Spike intentionally distorted the film's images to convey Troy's discomfort in Virginia).

Crooklyn is where I first heard "Never Can Say Goodbye," which was written by actor/minister Clifton Davis of That's My Mama and Amen fame. Thank you, Spike, for introducing me to so many fantastic pieces of music like the original version of "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Chaiyya Chaiyya."

You know those Kidz Bop cover versions of pop hits? I'm looking forward to hearing the Kidz Bop crew take a stab at Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You."

Kidz Bop covers of songs like "Since U Been Gone" make no sense because they have kids sing about relationship baggage they haven't experienced yet. You don't have to be Lorne from Angel to be able to detect that in their soulless delivery. I can't take seriously a tune about relationship woes if it's sung by someone who still eats paste.

"Never Can Say Goodbye" should have been just as nonsensical because little Michael Jackson was also singing about adult heartache, but his voice in that tune is the opposite of soulless (it's also devoid of the showboating that a whole future generation of American Idol contestants is so fond of). I have no idea which moment from his effed-up childhood Jackson was recalling in order to embody the angsty character in "Never Can Say Goodbye"--Alex, I'm gonna go with "What is heartache over a rat he lost?"--but whatever it was, it fueled one hell of a performance during "Never Can Say Goodbye." That's what separates young Michael Jackson from whatever Village of the Damned they pluck those Kidz Bop studio singers from.

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