Category Archives: movies

What Women Want movie Origins

“What a girl wants
What a girl needs
Whatever makes me happy and sets you free
And I’m thanking you for knowin’ exactly
What a girl wants”

The former ’79 Mad Max star, Australian Mel Gibson, came to see me and, along with Michael Jackson, I pitched him the idea to do the movie “What Women Want” released in 2000.  The idea actually came from the song I wrote “What a Girl Wants” which would be released by Christina Aguilera in 1999.

In the song lyrics for “What a Girl Wants”  I make reference to another girl group I named and wrote songs for,  TLC’s second album Crazy Sexy Cool released in 1994.

   “Somebody sensitive, crazy, sexy, cool, like you-yeah, What a girl wants”

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Titanic the Movie Origin

It was midnight on the sea,
Band playin’ “Nearer My God to Thee”
Cryin’, “Fare thee, Titanic, fare the well,”
Titanic when it got its load,
Captail hollered, “All aboard,”
Cryin’, “Fare thee, Titanic, fare the well” – Huddie Leadbetter (Lead Belly) 1912 Dallas, TX

In January of 1978, a 16 year old redheaded New Zealand girl stowed away on the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker the Polar Star headed to Seattle, Washington.  After making her way to San Francisco, she met the members of the rock band Dr. Hook’s Medicine Show and traveled with them to Texas. 

Four months shy of my sixteenth birthday in 1983, Labor Day weekend, my family and friends headed to Ft. Lauderdale, FL for a cruise on Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras (pictured) formerly known as the RMS Empress of Canada.

In fact, several from the Def Leppard’s road crew were on the cruise.  Kurt Cobain was there too.  I didn’t see any of the members of the band, but I recall giving Rick Savage a t-shirt from the Bahamas.

For most of the cruise I kept to myself there really wasn’t much for a kid to do onboard, or maybe just a kid like me.  Being fair-skinned I really do not care to lay out turning into a crispy critter, though I love to swim but as long as there is some shade to escape to.

(Some friends outside the “Showplace” on the ship. The other is me with some friends inside the Showplace, Mark and the real Rob Thomas pictured center.)

Before dinner I disappeared from my mom and friends just roaming the ship and went to the bow.  I stood on the railing looking down at the water crashing against the sides.  When I hopped down, turned around, and looked up toward the Bridge I saw a man in uniform running across.  Later I learned they thought I was going to jump.

During the cruise I met the Italian First Mate Marco Nogara.  (Marco Nogara with actress Mira Sorvino, years later after he became the Captain of his own ship called the Liberty.  He became a regular fixtured hanging around with Ricky Martin and Robi “Draco” Rosa.  I remember Michael Jackson telling Marco he would have him moved to the Disney Cruise Line.  Marco also wears brown eye contacts sometime.)

Upon the return home I was able to finish a song I had started when I came up with the songs for Oingo Boingo’s Deadman’s Party with Michael Hutchence and Adam Ant.  It was a gospel rock inspired song called “Home” later to be performed by Marc Broussard.

Hot damn you should have felt the groove
Like I was swimming in a sea of soul
The sun was rising and the day was hot
And we was all about to lose control
My daddy turned his face up towards the sky
And I knew that there was nothing to lose
I felt the crowd breathe in and I closed my eyes
And we disappeared into the groove

Said take me home
Said take me home
Take me home
Said take me home

The original lyrics for part of it was changed, but I wrote:

Stray from the water
Stray from the water children

You don’t know nothing about this

I had also started working on a song called “Oops…I Did It Again” and later someone requested I add to the lyrics a spoken verse:

“All aboard
Britney, before you go, there’s something I want you to have
Oh, it’s beautiful, but wait a minute, isn’t this…?
Yeah, yes it is
But I thought the old lady dropped it into the ocean in the end
Well baby, I went down and got it for you
Oh, you shouldn’t have”

I actually started using references to the Titanic in songs, including Supermassive Black Hole performed by the band I named Muse.

A little background on Carnival Cruise Line.  It was started by the late Ted Arison who was in business with Meshulam Riklis, actress Pia Zadora’s ex-husband, who’s business was based in Massachusetts where Billy Squier is from. 

At the time of my cruise Carnival Cruise Line was looking to expand their business.  From what I understand the cruise business was having a hard time in ’83. 

(This picture is of the cover of a photo taken onboard the ship which lists the names of the ships in Carnival’s fleet.  The Carnival, Festivale, Mardi Gras, and Tropicale.)

It was soon after my cruise that Carnival started having a standing in the “entertainment business” and hired Cathy Lee Gifford to do their commercials. 

Part of the blockbuster Titanic movie released in ’97 was based on things that happened to me on the cruise.  Of course, from an artistic standpoint.  They had also wanted to use ideas from Danielle Steel’s ’91 book “No Greater Love” which I tried to talk them out of.  They also wanted to use ideas from the 1943 German movie based on Titanic.

This is the connection between Carnival Cruise Lines and the Titanic.  The article is from January 1986 about a ship model builder. 

Just for the record, I never saw director James Cameron as the script ideas were being developed who claims to have written it.

In November of 1978 there was a headline out of London with the 16 year old New Zealander stowaway exclaiming, “Never Again.”  This inspired me to write the song Never Again performed by Nickelback.

It would be years later that I came up with the idea for and named the annual Rock the Boat held onboard Carnival Cruise Line for the ’74 Hues Corporation song of the same name.


Three Days Grace

“Every time we lie awake
After every hit we take
Every feeling that I get
But I haven’t missed you yet

Every roommate kept awake
By every sigh and scream we make
All the feelings that I get
But I still don’t miss you yet

Only when I stop to think about it

I hate everything about you”

My mother would sometimes call me Grace when I would trip over my own feet or do something completely clumsy.  One day in late ’94 I had planned a long weekend out of town.  It happened to be a weekend they all wanted to fly in and work on songs with me.  I refused to change my plans.  The voice on the other end of the phone gave me a warning, “Three days, Grace!”  While on the trip my aunt’s home caught fire and she died of smoke inhalation.  To commemorate the day my aunt died, to draw a connection to the element Lithium being atomic #3, and the song “3″ I wrote and would go on to be performed by Britney Spears, I decided to name the band Three Days Grace.

When I made up the song “I Hate Everything About You” it was very much inspired by Nirvana‘s song “Heart Shaped Box” and Def Leppard’s song “Miss You In A HeartbeatJust as this song happened to be written many years before it’s release, so were Nirvana’s and Def Leppard’s.

In 1993, Nirvana recorded “I Hate Myself and Want to Die”.

Both songs were based on Joan Jett & The Blackheart’s ’88 hit song “I Hate Myself for Loving You“.


Nine Inch Nails

About 1986 Trent Reznor showed up to help out on keyboards while  perfecting songs.  I believe they had already filmed or it was in the works for him to be in the Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox movie Light of Day released in Feb. ’87.   

The movie Real Genius starring Tom Cruise’s future Top Gun co-star, Val Kilmer, was released in Aug. ’85.   I loved the movie and Trent had not seen it yet so I quoted some of it to him.

 (Val Kilmer’s character Chris is hitting on Deborah Foreman’s character Susan)  

Chris: So, if there’s anything I can do for you, or, more to the point, to you, you just let me know.
Susan: Can you hammer a six-inch spike through a board with your penis?
Chris: Not right now.
Susan: A girl’s gotta have her standards.

Trent took “six-inch spike” and turned it into Nine Inch Nails, after which I started calling him Real Genius.

I also told Michael Jackson about the movie.  In Val Kilmer’s dorm room, there is another genius who is a burn out by the name of Lazlo Hollyfield who has made a tunnel out through the rooms wardrobe.  Val gets a new dorm mate by the name of Mitch.  One day, Mitch finally follows Hollyfield down into the tunnel once he figures out how to open the secret panel.  Once the secret panel opens written on the back wall is, “THIS IS IT”.  (Michael Jackson’s concert documentary “This Is It” was released in 2009.)

Trying to draw a connection to Def Leppard’s song Animal released on the ’87 Hysteria album, Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, and some of the INXS members attending Forest High School in Sydney,  I made up the song “Closer” performed by Nine Inch Nails. 

 


Easy A

 “Easy operator come a knockin’ on my door” – Pour Some Sugar On Me, Def Leppard

Upon meeting Tom Cruise he wanted me to help him with ideas for movie and not just for himself, but his friends as well.  I knew that several of the bands or artists such as Billy Squier and Oingo Boingo had contributed songs to movies, such as ’82 Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and INXS later talked about contributing to the movie Pretty in Pink released in ’86.  

I started with what I knew and told him about spending part of my summers in singing school and then the other in a reading club at the local library from about 2nd grade.  We would have contests to see who could read the most books at our grade level.  When I was in about third or fourth grade, while searching for a new book to read, a garnet covered book with a large “A” stood out in a low stack.   It was The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  While reading The Scarlet Letter I realized there were words I did not know or understand, so I approached the librarian who directed me to the nearest dictionary.  There I sat for several afternoons in a row until I finished the book.

There is another Scarlet which has meaning to me and that is the iconic Southern female Scarlet O’Hara portrayed by Vivian Leigh in Gone With The Wind.  Mom and I would curl up on the sofa together every time it would come on television.  I’ve actually known a few Scarlets, figuratively speaking.

English actor Gary Oldman had been tapped to play the role of Sid Vicious in Kurt Cobain’s  brain-child, the ’86 movie (Love Kills) Sid & Nancy.  Actress Demi Moore had been tapped to star in ’85 St. Elmo’s Fire.  While trying to draw connections to me they found a town in lower Alabama named St. Elmo.  The town was named for an 1866 novel by Southern author Augusta Jane Evans of the same name.  While doing more research they came across the electrical weather phenomenon called St. Elmo’s Fire. 

Later both actors, Gary Oldman and Demi Moore, were then tapped to star in the ’95 movie The Scarlet Letter.  The Executive Producer being none other than Dodi Fayed who died in the car crash with Diana, Princess of Wales in ’97.  After seeing the movie I mentioned to Tom that I was a bit disappointed in the writer taking creative license with the script. 

Another Scarlet influenced the ’92 movie Basic Instinct and the fact that one day I accidently stabbed Kurt Cobain with a microwave meat thermometer.  Fortunately, it wasn’t a mortal wound.  The movie I am referring to is Australian-American filmmaker Fritz Lang’s 1945 Scarlet Street. 

The dance scene in Basic Instinct actually happened while I was dancing with Kurt Cobain and Michael Hutchence at a private party when the ’84 album Purple Rain was released and Prince & The Revolution performed. 

Kurt Cobain made reference to the Scarlet Street movie in his journal under the page titled H.R. Puffnstuff, “Marlen Dietritch, Lilly Marlene sings”.  He is referring to the German love song Lili Marlene.  The poem was originally titled “Das Mädchen unter der Laterne” (German for “the girl under the lantern”), but it became famous as “Lili Marleen”. 

Nirvana in 1993 on MTV Unplugged in New York, Kurt requested the stage be surrounded by “Madonna” lilies.  Not to mention the “Anarchy A” on the cheerleader’s uniforms in the music video for Smells Like Teen Spirit.

While getting to know Michael Hutchence, of INXS, he told me about Australia, slang words, vegemite, and the ’79 movie Mad Max film starring Mel Gibson.  One day I fell asleep on the sofa in a dressing room of the auditorium we were working in.  I woke to Hutch starring me in the face smiling and for some strange reason I exclaimed, “Max!”  As a side project in 1989 Hutch started a band by the name of Max Q. 

If you haven’t seen the 2010 movie Easy A, I can highly recommend it.


Man in a Box

I’m the man in the box
Buried in my ****
Won’t you come and save me, save me
Fear in my eyes, can you sew them shut?
Jesus Christ, deny your maker
He who tries, will be wasted
Fear in my eyes now you’ve sewn them shut

I’ve mentioned how Alan Parsons’ song Turn It Up inspired the ’98 movie City of Angels in my previous post.  Michael Jackson’s ’88 hit song Man in the Mirror and the music video for Turn It Up inspired me to write the ’91 hit song Man in a Box performed by  Seattle band Alice In Chains.  Again, the Def Leppard song Wasted is mentioned in the lyrics. 

Come Mr. DJ song pon de replay
Come Mr. DJ won’t you turn the music up
All the gyal pon the dancefloor wantin some more what
Come Mr. DJ won’t you turn the music up 

The title “Turn It Up” inspired the lyrics when I wrote Pon de Replay, the debut song for Rihanna

Ricky Martin and Robi “Draco” Rosa of the Puerto Rico boy group Menudo showed up in my life about 1984.  The music video for Turn It Up  inspired the music video for Ricky Martin’s 2000 song She Bang.


Uninvited

Like anyone would be
I am flattered by your fascination with me
Like any hot-blooded woman
I have simply wanted an object to crave
But you, you’re not allowed
You’re uninvited
An unfortunate slight

The 1944 movie starring Ray Milland was inspiration for the title and the idea for the song Uninvited, eventually performed by Alanis Morissette.  This is one of my favorite movies.  

In the movie they perform a séance to speak to the ghost haunting their home.  It reminded me of when I had a sleep over with friends, we were about 13 years old, and for some reason there was a Ouija board in the house.  My friends and I decided to see if we could talk to Elvis Presley who died in Aug. of ’77.   Michael Jackson knew I was a fan of Elvis and eventually brought Lisa Marie Presley to meet me after I told him we were the same age, born about a month apart.

All the artists were surprised to find that I was a fan of The Alan Parsons Project.  Parsons who worked on the Beatles’ Abby Road and Let It Be, and engineered Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  From the ’76 album “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” I learned to appreciate and recite Edgar Allen Poe’s dark Gothic poem “The Raven”.

The ’77 album titled “I Robot” inspired the 2004 movie starring Will Smith of the same name.   The song Day after Day (The Show Must Go On) from the “I Robot” album inspired me to write The Show Must Go On for Queen’s 1991 album Innuendo and Def Leppard’s song Day after Day released in 2000 on the Euphoria album.   Other albums and songs by The Alan Parson’s Project and Parsons solo albums inspired other songs and much more.

In 1993 Alan Parsons released a solo album titled “Try Anything Once”.  The one song which I loved to use as inspiration from this album was “Turn It Up”.  The surrealistic music video for the song was inspiration for the ’98 film City of Angels starring Tom Cruise’s Top Gun co-star Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage (who would be briefly married to Lisa Marie Presley).   The song “Uninvited” performed by Alanis Morissette was featured in the movie. 


Theory of a Deadman

In ’78 my family up and moved to Mesquite, Texas where I attended J.C. Rugel Elementary and my older brother attended  North Mesquite High School, where model Jerry Hall went to high school.   I was put into advanced classes and Spanish was a required course.  My best friend was a little Mexican boy named Jose.  We would sit on the curb after school and I would try to speak Spanish. 

The Mexican culture affected me greatly.  Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a celebration on November 1st and 2nd where family and friends gather to remember loved ones who have died.  Tradition includes building alters honoring the deceased placing sugar skulls, marigolds (inspiring Dave Grohl of Nirvana to write the song Marigold), and the favorite food and beverages of the departed, as well as, visiting graves with these as gifts.

While sitting between Michael Hutchence and Adam Ant I made up the song Deadman’s Party and No One Lives Forever which I mentioned in an earlier post.  Both bands  had a very distinctive sound, INXS being more Ska New Wave with Adam & The Ants being Punk Rock and New Wave.  Once I had an idea, a song most of the time would just spill out.  It was my way of conveying what I really couldn’t vocalize and veil it in song.  They would record me singing it and I would go over the rest (the instrumental part) with the other artists like Kurt or members of Def Leppard.

We talked about my brother coming home one day loaded with test tubes, I always figured he stole them from school.  My dad and brother set off to buy a bushel of grain to try their hand at making grain alcohol.  What they produced was a clear almost tasteless liquid.  From this conversation I made up the song Weird Science.  

Weird science!

Plastic tubes and pots and pans

Bits and pieces and

Magic from the hand

We’re makin’

Weird science!

Things I’ve never seen before

Behind bolted doors

Talent and imagination

Since Joe Elliott was standing in the doorway of a dressing room behind me as I made up songs, there was a reference to Def Leppard’s song Bringin’ On The Heartbreak and Photograph  as pictures.

 Weird science!

Pictures from a magazine

Diagrams and charts

Mending broken hearts (and makin’)

Weird science!

Something like a recipe

Bits and pieces . . . .

Bits and pieces . . . .

Bits and Pieces is a 1960’s song originally written and performed by members of  The Dave Clark Five.  The Supremes recorded a cover in 1964 (Diana Ross being a member who was a longtime friend of Michael Jackson), and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts recorded a cover for their 1981 album.  I am a huge Joan Jett & The Blackhearts fan.

Later I learned from a girlfriend about Alabama’s history in NASCAR racing starting with bootleggers.  Her family had a long line of bootleggers back in the day and most of my friends were known to go to Talladega Superspeedway for the races.   NASCAR racers Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett, and Red Farmer were known as the Alabama Gang.  I told Tom Cruise about my friend which inspired Days of Thunder.

The idea for the band Theory of a Deadman came years later while I was writing songs which the band performs, including Low Life.  The band name came from talking to Michael Jackson about the Big Bang Theory and from the song Deadman’s Party.

Low Life performed by Theory of a Deadman even mentions Joe Elliott with me referring to him as Joe Dirt which inspired the 2001 movie.


Eye On You

I watch you on the tv–you’re with me every place I go
I’m caught up in the daydream–I’m into everyone you know
Turn on the action–grab every minute
Learn every lesson–then live to regret it
I’m so distracted–my mind’s disengaged
Sharin’ the moments when you’re all the rage

I got my eyes on you
Got my eye on you… – Eye On You performed by Billy Squier

The idea for Eye On You came from Def Leppard’s groupie pass (shown).  It actually became quite the theme for cover art for other artists as well, other’s I wrote songs for.

It was used as cover art for the movie ’90 Frankenstein Unbound which Michael Hutchence of INXS had a small role as poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Hutch knew I was a Shelley fan and actually have a collection of his poetry which was collected by his wife Mary Shelley author of the original Frankenstein.

Def Leppard used the eye on the cover art for their ’92 Adrenalize album.  

Nickelback used it on the cover art for their 2001 album Silver Side Up which includes songs I wrote.

And, the band Skillet’s 2009 album which includes the song “Awake and Alive” which I wrote.  I named the band Skillet for that oh, so southern of accessories which comes in hand when you need to beat some lousy jerk over the head with it.  Next time I promise to make sure there is not hot oil in it.


Kurt Cobain’s Down Syndrome Girl

I have mentioned in “About A Girl” above that my grandfather, Miles Edward, was an Evangelist who started his ministry in the 1930’s and his name was inspiration for Edward Lewis’ character name in the movie Pretty Woman.  Lewis being his grandmother’s maiden name.    

Courtney Love claims her birthday is the same day as my grandparents wedding anniversary of July 9th and Trent Reznor claims his grandmother’s name is the same as mine, Clara.   

Russell Brand’s stage name is for the Russell Brand Athletic wear in Alexander City, Alabama where my grandfather married his 2nd wife in October ’84 after Clara passed away in October ’83. 

These, of course, are my adopted grandparents (mother’s side).  I was adopted at the age of 6 months old after having been withheld from adoption by physicians who were concerned about my physical appearance and the possibility of having been born with Down Syndrome.  Kurt Cobain wrote a ficticious story about me in his journal under the title Down Syndrome Girl.  

In 1974, the adoption agency sent my parents a family history which Mom kept in my baby book and Kurt and Joe read.  My background/family history was used as inspiration for background for future artists (including Amy Lynn Hartzler and Courtney Love) and for movies.  One such movie was Susan Sarandon’s 2006 movie Irresistible set in Australia and also starring Sam Neill.  Sam Neill starred in the ’89 movie Dead Calm with Nicole Kidman who went on to marry Tom Cruise and Billy Zane who also starred in the ’97 movie Titanic

“It’s bigger than Germany!” Love Bites, Def Leppard, was inspired by the fact according to my family history I am of English and German descent.