“Break the chains that hold me down.” – Platinum Blonde
I just finished reading another book by Donald Miller. I say “another” like I’ve read ten of his books or something, but this is actually only my second Donald Miller book. I really loved “Blue Like Jazz,” which I read probably 10 years ago (it was published in 2003). I liked his thoughts, and his writing style and the pace of his words They seemed concise and thought-provoking. Yet, I didn’t pick up another Miller penned book until my wife bought me “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” a few months ago. The curious title alone demanded I open the cover.
The book comes about when two producers approach Miller about turning “Blue Like Jazz” into a screenplay for a movie. Miller comes to numerous realizations throughout the process of “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” and that process and self-reflection forms the basis of this book. The realizations force him to make decisions about his own life and what he wants that life to look like and represent. In turn, it makes the reader (or at least it made me) stop and pause at various points throughout as well.
“I thought about Heaven, about how if we were shooting a movie about heaven, at the airport, we would want to shoot it there, and how in the movie, people would be arriving from earth and from other planets, and when the angels picked us up, they’d put us in their cars and drive a million miles for a thousand years, and it would be miserable until you got to where you were supposed to stay, where you would see your family and the girlfriend you had in the second grade, the girl you always believed was the only one who really loved you.” – Donald Miller
There are all kinds of good nuggets and analogies and quotes scattered throughout the book. I also like the fact that he’s introspective enough to convey his thoughts clearly and sometimes hilariously. They’re thoughts I could relate to, and thoughts I’ve had before. Anyone that writes or tries to write has had them. The thoughts and insecurities and self-doubt that come with putting words on paper or on a computer screen can be as perpetual as the blinking cursor on my screen that never tires but still begs to be put to rest.
“If you aren’t telling a good story, nobody thinks you died too soon; they just think you died.” – Donald Miller
I like a good story. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t. And I think we all want to tell a good story with our lives. That’s the quest, right? The question though becomes am I telling a good story? Are we? It’s for each of us to decide and to judge for ourselves. It’s purely subjective, and that’s part of the beauty of individuality – one man’s happiness need not dictate someone else’s.
So what the hell does Donald Miller have to do with a Canadian 80’s glam rock band? Honestly, I just thought to myself – ‘how can I write about this band and this author and make it into one halfway coherent post?’ Well, I probably didn’t succeed. It’s too random, but how about this – I do wonder if Donald Miller could have written some of these lyrics? “Sad Sad Rain” by Platinum Blonde, vocals by Mark Holmes, lyrics by Donald Miller? Eh. It kind of works. Just to be clear, Donald Miller has absolutely nothing to do with Platinum Blonde though the author was born in 1971 putting this band squarely within his influential teenage years.
“Another mask of innocence. You hide away for convenience.”
Sometimes I come across these bands that have their story for the most part, and I wonder if they knew they were writing that story while it was happening, or if they just woke up one day a little soft in the middle, still fancying bad habits, and with little or no financial gain to show for their success? I wonder if the time slipped by so quick that they didn’t slow down to enjoy the success? I wonder if Platinum Blonde is disappointed that they were never more successful in the U.S.? It seems to me they were overlooked, and I will fight you about it too… sans weapons… like Canadians. I don’t care what you think, but I like these guys.
To be honest, I don’t remember this Toronto band that formed originally as a trio in 1982 at all, yet I really have enjoyed listening to their collection of hits the past two weeks. I feel like I’ve stumbled across a brand new band with a nice collection of songs I’ve never heard before. New music from the 80’s! It’s easy to dismiss Platinum Blonde by their name or looking at the hair and makeup, the clothes they have on, and the same cut and paste format in their videos that a lot of bands from the 80’s used. Yet, I would caution you not to do so. I didn’t, and now I have a Canadian 80’s band to add to my Spotify 80’s playlist.
But let this be a lesson to you, because this is what can happen when you Google “Canadian rock bands of the 80’s.” If you’re not familiar with Platinum Blonde either, don’t feel bad. They had zero top 40 hits in the U.S. Zero! Even Tone Loc and Men Without Hats had multiple hits. Yet, Platinum Blonde had only one song that even cracked the top 100 in the U.S. In their homeland, where they are rightly more appreciated, they had 13 songs crack the top 75 including a #1 hit that I’m featuring in this post today. To this statistic, I say bravo Canada. I’m almost ashamed that the U.S. barely bothered with one of your most treasured bands of the 80’s.
My wife loves a movie from 2007 called “Music and Lyrics.” We still own in on DVD. It stars Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. In the movie, Grant stars as a washed up singer from a fictitious 80’s group called “PoP!” If you haven’t seen the movie, check it out sometime. If you have seen it, then Platinum Blonde reminds me of a cross between the fictitious PoP! and Duran Duran – catchy hooks combined with plenty of 80’s style. Here’s the opening video from the movie featuring their fictitious hit, “PoP Goes My Heart.”
“‘Cause I ain’t gonna be your fool no more. ‘Cause I ain’t crying, crying over you.”
Honestly with some of the garbage on the radio in the 80’s, I’m surprised those of us in the lower 48 didn’t hear more from these blond boys north of the border. A real-life #1 hit in Canada in September of 1985 (and by then a quartet featuring Mark Holmes on vocals, Sergio Galli on guitar, Chris Steffler on drums, and Kenny MacLean on bass), here is Platinum Blonde with “Crying Over You.”
I’ll leave you with one last Donald Miller quote from the book:
“The ambitions we have will become the stories we live.”
Now get out there and go live a good story. Platinum Blonde surely has even if it wasn’t necessarily in the U.S.