The Summer HBO Unleashed ‘Eddie & the Cruisers’

eddie and the cruisers

My album collection screams 1980 through 1984. Those were my college years, back when I was a budding “adult” with no parental guidance and little to do but take classes. During the Summer of 1984, I was preparing for my upcoming graduation and the stress of applying for medical technology school. I was taking three courses over the summer in order to have my prerequisites done for med tech school so I could finish a degree in biology, which was an “almost microbiology” degree. See, my alma mater only had biology degrees back then, through which you could emphasize your coursework in a particular area of biology. I must admit, though, that I rarely let my academic life interfere with my social agenda, especially when it came to the Summer of 1984.

That summer got off to a stellar start as I was one of three frat brothers who took a fourth brother to near New Orleans where his parents had just purchased a new home. So, the week before summer classes began, I was having a great time down in the Big Easy. When I finally got back to the House, all the guys had moved in. That summer was the the summer of Prince’s Purple Rain, The Boss’ Born in the USA, The Jacksons’ Victory, and the original version of Ghostbusters. Springsteen was so big that summer that little “Springsteens” were popping up everywhere, like Huey Lewis & the News and John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band.

Remember John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band? Their hit was “On the Dark Side”. Still doesn’t jog your memory? Okay, do you remember the movie Eddie & the Cruisers? Yep, during the Summer of 1984, HBO had its first major hit movie when it began showing the 1983 box office flop Eddie & the Cruisers. And, for some reason, the movie struck a chord with the early members of Generation X.

This movie was about a fictitious New Jersey (does anyone else smell Springsteen?) bar band that hit the big time. Then, as they were recording their masterpiece album, their lead singer/guitarist and mastermind disappeared forever, leaving the band broken and confused. You know, this is the plot of stuff that should be taught in every high school…NOT!

For some reason, I am not sure why – it was a very hot summer that year – that movie connected with us. I think it was due to the fact that everyone was so Springsteen-crazy that summer that when we heard bands and artists that sounded similar, we wanted it. So, that great song, “On the Dark Side” was a perfect distillation of the E Street Band sound in a three-minute pop song. That song was able to do what the great “Dancing in the Dark” almost did: wrap up Bruce’s career into that three-minute burst of energy. And, for a moment, John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band had a Top 10 hit.

The band released a second single from the soundtrack called “Tender Years”, which was a strong ballad, but only peaked at #31. Cafferty and his band released another album that stalled quickly, and then they were gone, almost like Eddie in the movie.

The Summer of 1984 was a glorious three-month period of time where my life converged perfectly with the pop culture of the moment to leave a beautiful lasting memory. Perhaps the greatest thing that came about that summer was a little “summer fling” with a beautiful woman that has lasted to this day. Truly, that was the best part of the summer.

So, I met Jill that summer. But remember this too. The Celtics beat the Lakers in a great seven-game series that was arguably the best pro basketball I ever experienced.

Naw, hands down, the summer of 1984 was about m’lady Jill. What a summer!

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

One thought on “The Summer HBO Unleashed ‘Eddie & the Cruisers’”

  1. While my albums collection also “screams” 1980-1984, those were my high school years.

    I initially had a date with a cheerleader crush of mine to go see Eddie & the Cruisers at Park Mall, our wires got crossed (in hindsight, a quick text would have easily remedied the situation though none of us had cell phones) and I ended up going alone – like a loser – that first weekend it was in theaters at end of September 1983, only a few weeks into our Senior year. Wasn’t really impressed by the film as I was wallowing in self-pity after being stood up though I couldn;t get the song “Tender Years” out of my head and eventually bought the soundtrack album in early October 1983 because my Hollywood Records store had sold the one copy of the 45 they received.

    Didn’t have HBO in 1984 though I think it was Casey Kasem who shared the story of the film’s resurrection and subsequent soundtrack success one weekend on American Top 40. (I have been unable to verify this.)

    Bought the soundtrack on CD just a few years back for $3 when Borders went under.

    The cheerleader and I never did go out. Maybe a month or so after the botched movie date, while I was angling for another shot, she and the rest fo the varsity cheer squad were busted drinking in the locker room before a game. The JV squad was called up for the rest of the football season though most of the varsity girls were back for basketball season. By that time, I had begun dating a girl at work. She was a sophomore at the University, two years older than me, studying pre-med while in the marching band’s color guard. Though I married another girl, she and I have gone to the movies together almost every weekend for 33 years now.

    How? She’s my sister-in-law, my wife’s older sister! The three of us are movie buddies.


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