Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Pre-Don


It's been a really long time since I used the awesome might of the DXM Media Empire® to crowdsurf for an answer to one of those weird questions I wake up pondering in the middle of the night.* The last time I did this I'm pretty sure I asked whether anyone had ever heard of a dog dying of natural causes -- not put to sleep and not hit by a car or something, just, wake up and, hey, dead dog.

So here's my question, one that I so far haven't been able to find an answer to anywhere on the internet: Don Johnson's 1986 single Heartbeat is generally and generously considered one of the worst songs in the history of recorded pop music. It showcased a preening Johnson at the height of his cultural domination, thanks to his role as Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice, and was quickly turned into a ridiculously MTV-of-the-era video that featured Dweezil Zappa playing a green guitar and dressed in a white blazer with giant padded shoulders. The video alone was the kind of thing that made you wish the Russians would just bomb us already and end our suffering.

Anyway, here's the thing: Heartbeat itself, minus Johnson, actually wasn't a bad song at all. In fact, it was a cover. The original version was sort of Pretenders-y, with a lot heavier guitar, a quicker beat and quite a bit rougher production.

But to this day I have no idea who did the original version of it. And I'd love to find out. I'm sure it isn't available anywhere at all, given that my search probably would've turned it up by now, but at the very least I want to know that I'm not crazy and I really did hear another version of the song -- which I can still clearly hear in my head -- a few years before Don Johnson massacred it.

Anybody able to help? Whoever can, as always, gets a brand new Chrysler Cordoba that you can pick up in Morty's office.

*No, not, where did that wet spot come from?

(Update: Okay, so congrats so far to J. Walker who discovered that, of all people, Helen Reddy did Heartbeat in 1983. But I mean it when I say that's not what I was looking for. There's still another, heavier version out there somewhere. The only thing I can think of is that the original writers of the song did a version of it or maybe the radio station I heard it on forever ago was playing some local band that was covering it. I'm out of answers. And I hate myself.)

(Update to the Update: It looks like the right answer is Wendy Waldman. I can't say for sure because I can't find a clip of the song but she's the actual songwriter and she released it on her own album a year before Reddy's version and four years before Johnson's. She also has a bit of the Chrissie Hynde style going on and her voice on other songs sounds like it fits.)

(Update to the Update to the Update: Success! A clip of the original can be found here. Damn if it isn't still the spectacular song I remember. And now I can sleep comfortably in my wet spot tonight knowing I'm not insane.)

5 comments:

Prozac Boy said...

Wendy Waldman - Which Way to Main Street - 1982 - Track one - Heartbeat.

Just a thought as she is listed as one of the songwriters on Don's single release.

Chez said...

I guarantee that's it. Looking to see if there's a clip of it anywhere.

Benjamin said...

Curiously, here's another one:

http://www.last.fm/music/Helen+Reddy/_/Heartbeat

Chris said...

I hate it when things like that happen. For years I've been trying to identify what 80s movie/TV show used "When you close your eyes" by Night Ranger with no success. Glad you got your info! That version is significantly better than Big Daddy's.

Bob said...

You can sleep, but this does not rule out insanity