Monday, February 1, 2016

A Star Spangled "Girl"


A close friend of mine recently directed me to a YouTube video, which contained the musical intro of the opening credits to an obscure Neil Simon film based on a play that he wrote called, Star Spangled Girl.  Neither the play nor the film were hits in any respect; that’s probably why you’ve never heard of them.  The song that is played during those opening moments as a Greyhound Bus travels down Pacific Coast Highway is called, “Girl.” 

This is the very same song (with a slightly altered first verse) that Davy Jones was recording as Marcia Brady asked Davy’s lead recording engineer that she speak to him to get him to perform at her high school in the 1971 Brady Bunch episode, Getting Davy Jones.”  I had always appreciated this early 70’s crafted song through my youth and I had learned to play it by ear and and often sang it along with my assorted piano repertoire when nobody was in the house, opening with it’s Carpenters “Close To You” style intro and all.  I even went as far as looking for it a few years ago on iTunes to see if it was real but didn't find anything at the time.  Haha. What a dork I am!

The thing that has always affected me about that specific BB episode is that while Marcia gets upset and is booted out of the control booth of the recording studio, Davy Jones is listening to her panicked voice juxtaposed against the bright and sunny lyrics in the playback of the song that he has just recorded; the sobering and ironic contrast of it all.  It’s a very real moment in the episode, and you know it is because you remember it so well too.  It made an emotional impact on all of us.  By the end of the scene, Davy looks quite moved by Marcia's resolution after witnessing her pleas in favor of the false promise that she has made to her classmates. 

The moment is likely the residue of Robert Reed’s dramatic and ethical-marbled influence that he had on and throughout the show's run, which Sherwood Schwartz always fought with him about, since Sherwood wanted mainly laughs a la “Gilligan's Island.”  They say that artistic achievements are often the outcome of two or more contentious people's competing and diametric goals.  I believe it.