Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hair - Let the Sunshine In

Was clearing out some old videos the other day and found one I hadn't seen in years - Milos Forman's late 70's interpretation of the cult hippie late 60's musical 'Hair'.

It was weird, as I had also recently watched 'Putney Swope' on DVD. Another counter-culture themed movie from the late 60s.

Anyhoo the connection between them is that both feature a singer/actor called Ronnie Dyson, albeit in small roles. He had played the character 'Hud' in the original hit Broadway version of 'Hair' and opened the show with 'Aquarius'.  He was only about 17 at the time and his mother embarressed him on his debut by screaming from the audience - 'Sing baby, sing'.

Think Ronnie had a brief solo career in the 70s but died during the 80's AIDS epidemic (not quite sure on that one - it wasn't the kind of thing that people admitted back then).  He had some voice though...

I always loved 'Hair' for its musicality - as it had about 20 tunes in it and at least 12 of them are superb. Rather like the Who's 'Tommy' which I can almost recite in full, or going way back to some of the stuff my father liked - '42nd Street' or 'West Side Story'.

In this closing scene, the leader of the hippie troupe - Berger (played by Treat Williams) gets shipped off to Vietnam inadvertantly, as he had switched places temporarily with Claude (the naif country boy drafted soldier, played by John Savage), so Claude could have a good night out with Beverly D'Angelo's character.

It must have been all a bit dated at the time the movie came out, but perhaps resonates as much as ever in the 'War on Terror' era.

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