David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 138: Pat Benatar (Shadows Of The Night)

April 18, 2022

In 1980, a pretty cool movie about runaways came out called Times Square. It starred Tim Curry of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and had an eclectic soundtrack, mostly featuring punk and post-punk, well-known artists and some much more obscure acts: The Pretenders, Talking Heads, Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Robin Gibb, in the former group; D.L. Byron, The Ruts, and Garland Jeffreys in the latter. D.L. Byron, who I had never heard of before the movie, nor after, until this week, covered the old Supremes' song "You Can't Hurry Love," a few years before Phil Collins absconded with it to rise up in the charts.

What I found out recently concerns a song not included.

D.L. Byron wrote "Shadows Of The Night" for the soundtrack, but it was rejected. Another rather obscure artist, Rachel Sweet, covered it and it went nowhere. The song was eventually picked up by Pat Benatar and made a huge hit. This information, providing so much insight into the bizarre nature of the music industry, fascinates me.

Benatar, of course, infused the song with her operatic, and highly theatrical voice, to give the song the dramatic elements it deserved:

"We're running with the shadows of the night/

So, baby, take my hand, it will be alright/

Surrender all your dreams to me tonight/

They'll come true in the end."

Since this was the early days of MTV, the song was boosted by a popular video that took the dramatic foundation of the song and elevated it, literally, even more -- to the skies over Nazi Germany with Benatar playing the role of a WWII riveter dreaming of being a fighter pilot. It was over the top even for an era when most music videos were over the top.

However, I go back to the idea of D.L. Byron, writing a song for a movie about teenage runaways in New York, with that song being the very appropriate "Shadows Of The Night."  Makes that chorus seem a little more apropos, doesn't it?

"We're running with the shadows of the night/

So, baby, take my hand, it will be alright."

And so much of the verses now have even more context:

"You said, 'oh, girl, it's a cold world.'"


"You can cry tough baby, it's all right."

What in their right minds (if they had any) were the movie makers thinking to skip this very appropriate song, dripping with dramatic plotting, and then to ask (I am assuming) the songwriter to cover an old Motown song? There really isn't a way to justify it?

On the Times Square soundtrack, D.L. Byron's version of "You Can't Hurry Love" precedes Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side." How great would it have been to have Benatar's soaring version segue into that subdued, cool opening of Reed's song?  Of course, that was never to happen, and no one should be happier about that than D.L. Byron. As the movie is being made, Benatar is between her debut album and her explosive, put-her-on-the-map second album, Crimes Of Passion. If Byron's version gets put on there, it dies in obscurity. The movie cost $5 million to make and brought in about $1.5 million. That ain't going to serve as the rocket to the top of the charts.

And without "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" or "You Better Run" on the charts yet for Benatar, somehow jumping in a way-back machine and getting her the song earlier isn't going to help either. Even the hand-off of the song to Rachel Sweet, who despite opening for Bill Cosby with minor hits in England, helped the cause by having the song flourish in anonymity, giving Benatar even more time to establish herself and allow her free picking for the next hit single she desired. Apparently Sweet even added a few lines that Benatar didn't even know about, leading Sweet's name to be dropped from the song-writing credits.

D.L. Byron should count his lucky stars that Times Square wanted nothing to do with his song. He should be blessed that few noticed Rachel Sweet's version. The royalties from Benatar's version ended up much sweeter. Sweet might feel differently.

"Shadows Of The Night." Pat Benatar. Get Nervous. Chrysalis. 1982. Video link here.

Day 137: Soul Asylum. "Runaway Train."

Day 139: Boston. "More Than A Feeling."

See complete list here.