Nightman Listens To – Bon Jovi – Lost Highway!


Greetings, Glancers! Here we are, the first Bon Jovi album that I legit haven’t heard a single song from. Before I listen, I take a quick glance at the song’s Wiki page to get a little flavour for what’s in store. It was released in 2007 – by that point I was long gone from University and well into long term employment, so frivolous acts like Bon Jovi had fallen by the wayside for me. If they weren’t one of my favourite bands, or if they weren’t some new exciting act that I had just discovered, then I wasn’t going to listen to them much. It’s sad how it goes, but go it does. Wiki claims the album is heavily influenced by the Nashville sound, which is another way of saying ‘Yo Nightman, you’re going to absolutely despise this’. There may be collaborations with other artists, the album was a success on Country music charts…. arrgh… let’s just get it out of the way.

Lost Highway: Starts okay, typical Jovi sound. Slight banjo jangling. Oh Lord, here comes the slide guitar. I cannot abide slide guitar. Laughably trite and generic lyrics. Very middle of the road, soft stuff, appeasing the denim wearing, wandering patriot that the US inexplicably loves. The video, incidentally, is horrendous. The bridge doesn’t help, some terrible pronunciation. There’s a certain type of listener who swallows this stuff as if it’s scripture. I’m not that person. No edge, no emotion, just empty notes and not adventurous from a band capable of much better. Middling stuff then.

Summertime: I like songs about Summer. When they work, they’re very evocative. They make me happy, not something you’ll often hear me say. In fairness this one does come close to evoking those thoughts. It’s not quite strong enough and some silly decisions in the arrangement don’t help. The main chord chugging and the central riffs do fine – it’s nothing special, but for a band in their third decade it’s fine.

You Wanna Make A Memory: Different intro than what they usually go for. Vocals and a slight beat. Is that some female backing vocals. I was expecting this one to explode like they often do, but it keeps to a more restrained ballad form. Some slight violins, some piano. Gets marginally louder for the second chorus. I do like how it builds. The main vocal melodies are good and it quickly establishes itself as another traditional second tier Bon Jovi ballad – not up their with Always or Bed Of Roses, but still good.

Whole Lotta Leavin: Thankfully the album hasn’t been too country yet, at least not in the way I was dreading. There’s the quite intro followed by explosion I was talking about. Lyrics once again about that yearning for leaving, for adventure, for love. It’s a gentle foot-tapper to be sure, but by the numbers. More middling fare which should keep the band’s most ardent fans happy, but won’t recruit any listeners to the cause or excite someone like me.

We Got It Going On: Wait, wait, wait. Is this a cover band’s version of Enter Sandman. That’s hilarious. It’s a honky tonk rip off of Enter Sandman mixed with Have A Nice Day or It’s My Life. Like those songs, this has a stomp to it and a catchy chorus meaning you can both sing and dance to it. We get an unfortunate spoken part in the middle, followed by voice box solo. It’s pretty funny, but still middling stuff.

Any Other Day: This opens with a summery vibe too, and a nice guitar tone. Songs like this have a tendency to grab me immediately, so I get disappointed if the rest falls away. The lead riff, well it’s not really a riff, but it’s very nice and suits the verse melodies perfectly. It’s all smooth and likable. A late career goldie for me – the chorus doesn’t go overboard with the anthem but acts as a more joyous extension of the verse. A very nice surprise.

Seat Next To You: The opening riff here is almost the same as the one I mentioned in the previous song, though decidedly more slow and peaceful. More female backing vocals. The Country stuff is there, but thankfully it’s more in the background and doesn’t leave me with a bad taste. So far this is a much stronger ballad, reaching close to those upper tiers. Verses and choruses again – not obnoxious, not amazing, but emotive and mature. Two very good songs in a row – can we continue this trend?

Everybody’s Broken: Well, it begins promisingly enough. I don’t know why they went for that drum sound though. Gentle but good melodies. Decent lyrics. A better drum sound joins in. Decent chorus. The song has a carefree sway. The chugga-chugga-chug guitars in the second verse don’t quite work, but I see what they’re going for. Mutterings of keyboards towards the end. It’s not as good as the previous two songs, but better than the ones before those.

Till We Ain’t Strangers Anymore: This is veering close to the whining strings I can’t stand in Country music. For a few seconds at least. Feels like another decent ballad, not up there with the best, but not far behind. Going in on the full duet in the second verse. It’s LeAnn Rimes. She adds something different, she’s always had a (kind of) distinct voice, and while she’s Country the whole thing doesn’t go as far down that terrible road as I feared.

The Last Night: There hasn’t been that one bombastic, arena rock song on the album yet. This one doesn’t feel like it’s going to get there either, based on the opening. It has a middling pace, a soft rock approach. The verses are catchy enough without getting the claws in, with the chorus following in the same vein. It’s another which will please a certain section of the fans but will leave listeners like me asking for something stronger. It’s fine, a step down from the last few.

One Step Closer: Is this going to be the straight Country song I dreaded? No, the verse wises up. Another ballad then, and more soft rock. It’s getting a little samey now – that happens when you get beyond six albums and don’t really change your sound much from the core. Fans will be happy, there’s nothing much wrong with the song, just at this point it sounds too much like everything else. The chorus is nice enough, and I like some of the additional guitar parts which linger in the background.

I Love This Town: Is this the Country song? It starts badly enough, with hand clap type nonsense. And yet… and yet there’s something fun about it. The band sound like they’re having fun and that materializes through the waves into my veins and that feeling becomes infectious. This sounds like about a hundred different songs – everything from Bon Jovi’s own past masters to, most obviously, Dance The Night Away by The Mavericks. What was very close to being an awful closing track instead becomes a crowd-pleasing mini-anthem of its own. I imagine the band employs this one when playing live, singing about whatever town they’re playing in to the delight of the crowd. It’s strange but it somehow works by virtue of being a lot of fun.

A lackluster, if not poor first half gives way to a much improved second – there are definitely a number of songs I’ll be listening to again and would gladly put on my Bon Jovi playlist. I don’t think any of them will crack the band’s best ten or twenty songs, but they’re not far away. A better album than I was expecting by all accounts, one which thankfully didn’t live up to its Country promises and while it lacks that one great single there are enough good songs to keep loyal fans amused.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Lost Highway!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Any Other Day. Seat Next To You.

Lost Highway

*Originally written in 2004 (and another where I inexplicably give a plot synopsis, so don’t read if you haven’t seen).


David Lynch creates another incredibly interesting, mesmerizing, beautiful, and dark experience which at times surpasses both Eraserhead and Blue Velvet, but one which will likely confuse and frustrate, at least the first time you see it. Featuring vast amounts of imagery, apparently differing and interweaving plots, and a large, excellent cast Lost Highway is a film which you are not likely to forget.

Bill Pullman stars as Fred, a saxophonist who is in an awkward relationship with his beautiful wife Renee, played by Patricia Arquette. He never seems to be able to get close to her, even though they have been together supposedly for years. When he finds a videotape at his doorstep, he watches in horror as it shows the inside of their house -someone has been coming in and watching them sleep. At a party, a mystery man (Robert Blake) seems overly interested in Fred and claims he is at Fred’s house now, even though they are standing together at this party at another house. Fred phones home, and the mystery man answers, being at both ends of the phone. Later, Fred finds another tape – this one showing him killing his wife – he is arrested shortly after as his wife actually has been killed. On death row Fred vanishes from his cell and in his place another man – Pete, appears instead. The cops let him go, but follow him. He is a mechanic who, like in Blue Velvet, becomes involved with a shady character called Mr Eddy with a violent temper and his mistress Alice, also played by Arquette. Pete is intrigued by Alice, and the two sleep together. Alice cries out to be rescued from her life, so Pete concocts a plan to save her. However, she does not appear to be all she seems, and Pete knows he is in too deep to escape. He cannot get a concrete hold of Alice. Then things get strange….

As with any real piece of art, you can come up with your own thoughts and explanations of what you see and hear while watching Lost Highway. The entire film is designed to haunt and disturb, from the slightly abnormal sets, to the look of certain characters, to the music, images and performances. At times this is incredibly quiet, and the volume must be played at full blast to hear what is being said. There are a few violent scenes, lots of sex which never seems erotic, but always necessary. Most of the actors give understated, cold performances and rarely try to explain or understand what is happening to themselves, but special mention must go to Richard Pryor. He plays the wheelchair bound Arnie who works with Pete, but it must rank as one of the most terrifying performances ever. It is deeply unsettling, his eyes seeming to see everything that no-one would ever want to see. Apparently at early showings, certain scenes were mixed up so the film played in a different order. Perhaps linear story-telling is not always needed. Unfortunately for most people, the story needs to be safe and simple, so many will be turned off by this. The film never attempts to show any sense of happiness, hope, or light in the traditional sense, is distant, yet seduces us to pay close attention and inevitably succumb to the unsavoury acts and tone which can become almost unbearable. If you want a thoroughly challenging and original film, then Lost Highway is a must.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Lost Highway!

Top Ten Tuesdays – David Lynch


Greetings, Glancers! It’s been a while since my last TTT post, and as it’s October why not resume things with a director who is more than a little familiar with the darker side of life. David Lynch, for most people, is synonymous with weird – his films often dividing critics and fans due to their uncompromising dedication to non-linear, non-traditional storytelling. Some call it art, others call it shit, but most agree that his work will continue to spark debate.

Lynch’s movies have so far garnered over 10 Oscar nominations, but have yet to gain a single win, though his movies frequently appear on many ‘Best Movies Of The Year/Decade/Ever’ lists and generally feature notable or iconic performances or scenes, along with famous scores and unforgettable imagery. He has, at the time of writing, made 10 movies which is handy for today’s list as I can rank them all in order from my least favourite to my absolute favourite. As always, the numbers aren’t set in stone and may change slightly depending on my mood. Lets not wait 25 years for this gum to come back in style!



I wanted to start out by saying that this is possibly Lynch’s most divisive film… but i truth the same could be said for most films on the list. It’s one I looked forward, but one which I ultimately didn’t get. I haven’t read the source material and don’t have any sort of affinity or relationship with the story, but I loved the idea of Lynch tackling a fantasy epic – his attempt at a blockbuster. To be honest it’s a bit of a shambles and I struggled to get through it. I’m willing to give it another go as it has been years since I saw it, and many people don’t appreciate Lynch’s films upon first viewing – though in most cases it’s love at first sight for me. Dune has since gone on to be named as one of the worst movies of all time, and Lynch has pretty much distanced himself entirely from it, after saying that the Studio and Producers didn’t give him the control he needed.

Inland Empire


Lynch’s most recent feature is now 10 years old, and given the Director’s return to TV we may not see another movie from him. Hopefully that’s not the case. Inland Empire say Lynch going fully digital for the first time, but returning to old hallmarks such as the fish out of water, ambition crushing and cursing, seedy underbellies, dopplegangers, shadows, and tantalizing mysteries with creepy tangents. Laura Dern is superb as an actress who gets a part in big movie, but who life begins to unravel and seemingly merge with the plot of the movie. It’s possibly Lynch’s most dense and confusing work given that Lynch himself admitted that the writing and shooting process went almost hand in hand, rather than having a script ready before shooting. The loose structure is similar to Mulholland Drive in that the first part is mostly linear, while the second half collapses upon itself with multiple scenes tumbling over each other. The film gets more impenetrable as it progresses, but Dern’s performance gets stronger and more intense along the way, proving to be an anchor in the storm. It’s not advised to start your Lynch viewing with this one, but it’s essential nonetheless.

The Straight Story


What Lynch would amusingly call his ‘most experimental movie’, the ironically titled The Straight Story is of course Lynch’s most accessible work. Telling the true story of Alvin Straight, a WWII veteran who travels across North America on a lawnmower to visit his brother. Naturally the idea is going to put some people off watching the movie, but those people would be missing out on one of the most touching US movies of the decade a true story of heroism and the triumph of the human spirit. As you would expect, there are lots of vignettes and interesting characters met along the way, each offering something important about the human condition. With an Oscar nominated performance by Richard Farnsworth and support by Harry Dean Stanton and Sissy Spacek, this is a gentle introduction to Lynch – some of his humour and treatment of character, but in no way prepares you for his more well known work.

The Elephant Man


Lynch’s most successful feature, The Elephant Man was nominated for 8 Oscars, but somehow didn’t win anything. His other biographical tale, it recounts the life of Joseph Merrick, a man born with a horrendous deformity which meant he spent a large part of his life in a freak show. John Hurt gives possibly his best performance in the title role, alongside Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft, and John Gielgud. As you would expect, the film is both tragic and hopeful, powerful and affecting, beautifully shot and with several standout moments of dialogue or incisiveness.



This is where it all began, and it would be difficult to argue against this being still Lynch’s most confusing and disturbing feature. I remember being haunted by the poster from an early age, before I knew anything about Lynch, just knowing that it would be an odd and frightening experience if I ever saw the film. Mostly financed by Lynch and his friends, the film took several years to make, and several years after release until it found its audience. None of this will be surprising to anyone who has seen the movie – what most people read as a fear of parenthood, fatherhood, isolation, commitment, family. Jack Nance stars as a young man who is left to look after his ‘child’ – a writing, lizard like creature which seems to exist just to scream and feel pain. As time passes he experiences unnerving visions and.. that’s about it really. It has to be seen to be believed, and once seen you will never forget it. It’s one of the few films which makes me genuinely uneasy and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to sit through it more than a couple of times. Why so high on my list then? Nance is brilliant as always, and the sheer creativity and audacity on show is alarming – it’s precisely because it is so difficult to watch that it is so good – it’s a calamitous nightmare, a shrieking cloud of imagery which comes closer to generating and understanding personal fear better than a hundred horror movies or books on the subject. Critical consensus on the movie is generally positive, but what is interesting is that critics are divided over whether this is his best work, to the point that nothing he made later comes close, or that his later work is much more refined and mature to the point that Eraserhead is a mere early experiment. Watch it and decide for yourself.

Blue Velvet


Famous, not least for bringing Dennis Hopper back into the limelight for good reasons, Blue Velvet is another critically acclaimed high point for Lynch – a bizarre stripping back of suburbia’s skin and an investigation of the flesh which writhes underneath. Lynch had already made a failed blockbuster with Dune, and a hit biographical drama with The Elephant Man, so wanted to make something more personal with story, character, and setting elements which were more familiar to him. What comes out is an extremely dark mystery, blending noir elements with moody jazz tones and a twisted vision of America filled with secrets and savagery. Hopper gives an extraordinary performance, the young Laura Dern and Kyle Maclachlan hold their own, and Isabella Rossellini is the most manic femme fatale you’re ever likely to see.

Lost Highway


I think Lost Highway has had a bad rap – at release it was largely dismissed. As a mystery, it is more impenetrable than Blue Velvet, there is less of an emotional connection with the audience, but I find it the more interesting film. With Lost Highway Lynch presents another warped vision of America, almost as if two separate but connected worlds which exist on both sides of a highway begin to blur and drip into one another. Where Lost Highway ‘fails’ is in it doesn’t feature a big, iconic performance. The trio of Arquette, Pullman, and Getty are very good, each evoking a bewildered, dreamy state as they struggle to understand the mystery they find themselves in. We also get notable performances from Robert Blake, Robert Loggia, and Richard Pryor – each terrifying in their own way. The story allows for many interpretations and nightmarish moments, and each viewing only serves to unlock more rooms and questions.

Mulholland Drive


I was late to the Mulholland Drive party. In fact, it was the last movie on this list I saw. I’m not sure why I’d held off for so long – unless the movie is something which really leaps out to me as something I desperately need to see, I wait for it to come to me via TV or streaming sites. Naturally I loved the film from first sight – the moody tones and textures, the assortment of scenes and characters all colliding with the central plot and offering tantalizing glimpses into something bigger. If you’re already reading this then you probably know that the film was originally supposed to be a pilot for a new TV show – hence the additional characters and plots which seem to go nowhere. Lynch is able however to weave it all together by allowing the film to disintegrate – time and space become liquid or air, and events merge together. There are memorable moments and a terrific cast – the Llorando theatre scene is a personal favourite and both Naomi Watts and Laura Harding are excellent – Lynch always seems to know how to get powerful performances from his female leads.

Fire Walk With Me


Speaking of female leads and powerful performances – do you remember when Sheryl Lee won the best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Laura Palmer in Fire Walk With Me? No? Well, that’s because it never happened. It it will go down in history as one of the biggest shambles of the Academy’s history that wasn’t even nominated. Do these people even watch movies? There are various reasons for this – the most notable being that the film received a critical mauling in the US upon release, and many people were upset that the movie was so drastically different in tone from the TV show. Make no mistake, Fire Walk With Me is a horror movie; one of the most emotionally draining, stunningly shot, well performed horror movies of all time, but a horror movie nonetheless. Lynch gets full reign and rather than wrapping up the many cliffhangers from the show he simply explores the last week of Laura Palmer’s life and delves deeper into the dark heart of Twin Peaks than the show ever did. Make sure you have seen the show before you watch the movie though, but if you like the show be prepared to have the rug pulled from under you – there are few, if any, quirky laughs to be found here.

Wild At Heart


While we’re on the topic of Oscar omissions I always found it odd that Wild At Heart was so abandoned. I mean, Diane Ladd got a Supporting Nomination, but what about Cage, Dern, and the writing team? I’m going to be ruthless and say that Wild At Heart is Lynch’s least essential film, but easily his most entertaining and mainstream. Sure there is weirdness, but nothing that would ever put the laziest viewer off. This is Lynch doing Tarantino before that was even a thing. This is a love, sex, and violence fueled, foul-mouthed road trip of mayhem with a manic assortment of comic book characters who leap off the screen with abandon, creating a gripping, thrill ride of laughter and drama the likes of which you’ll rarely see again.It isn’t his most essential, it isn’t his best, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and it’s one which is so easy to return to again and again.

Think I’ve got any of the above completely wrong? Let us know in the comments what your favorite Lynch films are, and if you think he has another classic up his sleeve!