Starstruck

One ordinary afternoon back in the late 90’s, a couple of my friends and I were walking down a street somewhere in North Hollywood… heading from one guy’s apartment building to another looking to hang out and watch a movie. Along the way, we stop by a yogurt shoppe to get some… well, from what I can remember, yogurt.

Now, we walk inside and immediately drool over the choices behind the see-through freezer. Here, the shoppe’s counter is right in the center when you first walk in. To the left are tables filled with a number of customers hanging out, enjoying their yogurt. To the right are a bunch of tables as well. Unoccupied. Except for one person sitting on the far corner eating his yogurt by himself. The three of us can’t help but stare at this man as he surely looked familiar. He’s a heavy-set, older individual we all knew too well. Without  second thoughts, we start our trek towards the gentleman, much to the other customers’ dismay. Our eyes are wide in amazement as we shamelessly invade his privacy. One of us wastes no time and immediately breaks the ice.

“Hello, Mr. Brando, my name’s Paul. These are my friends, Steve and Chris. We’re big fans of yours and it is such a pleasure to meet you in person.” Mr. Brando takes one last scoop of yogurt into his mouth, looks up and glims at each one of us with that famously contemplating look. And with that all too familiar Corleone-ish tone in his voice, he speaks…

“You come up here to talk to me because my name is Marlon Brando. You know Marlon Brando but you don’t know me. I bet, if you spotted an ordinary no name big old fat pig instead, you wouldn’t have bothered. Now would you, boys?”

I don’t know about Paul and Steve, but I am mightily convicted at this point. How do you respond to that? What do you say to Mr. Party Pooper? There’s no way out. He knew the truth. The bitterness in his voice is very telling. He must be used to this, I thought. No, he must be so sick and tired of people doing this to him. All the time. All his life!

As much as I am saddened by the fact that he knew that people only love and respect him for being a great actor and not because he is simply a human being longing for sincere affection, I am, in fact, even more devastated by my own lack of concern and sensitivity. I was starstruck. And that’s all that mattered at that moment.

Anyhow, Mr. Brando is kind and understanding enough to not drown us further into a pool of guilt. He starts conversing with us, in fact. We all confess to him that we’re musicians and entertainers ourselves trying to break into the business. He in turn tells us a little trivia about his early life. He’s a closet drummer. Wow, I bet you didn’t know that! Yes, he loves to play congas at home. When he was growing up, he hated the idea of being an actor but instead wanted to become a professional drummer. One day, he was at a big band concert where his idol, the legendary Gene Krupa, was playing. Wanting to get some inspiration, he walked up to him to shake his hand after the show. Sadly, Mr. Krupa refused and turned his back on him. Too proud, perhaps? Too big a star to shake a supportive fan’s hand? That simple gesture alone made him change his mind overnight (albeit in rebellion) and decided to go ahead and become an actor anyway. Sometimes, I wonder if Mr. Krupa ever knew that story? Amazing though, how someone’s simple but thoughtless action can turn one person’s life around completely. Indeed, large ships are steered by a very small rudder.

Well, needless to say, we had to part company. So, we bid our thanks, goodbyes and goodlucks; and the three of us proceed to the apartment building to watch a movie. Still  high on what just happened, guess what we decide to put on? That’s right… The Wild One.

Never forgetting a second of that moment, I wrote a song about it years later. The title pertains to Mr. Brando’s character’s name in this movie as I imagined him introducing himself to us by.

Enjoy!

My Name Is Johnny

i don’t think i like it when you come talk to me
no, i don’t think it’s fair, this is my time and space
this might sound crazy to you
you don’t know me like you think you do
i bet you haven’t got a clue
so let me tell you

my name is johnny, how do you do
my name is johnny, i’m just like you, yeah

i don’t think you’d ever spot me in the movies
no i don’t think you’d even recognize a star, no
well here’s my candle to burn
move over cause it’s my turn
you’ve got bigger lessons to learn boy
so let me tell you

my name is johnny, how do you do
my name is johnny, i’m just like you, yeah

cause i’ve got fake tears in my eyes
i’m so numb to all the lies
my shadow’s falling over me
and i’m not so strong
tell me where i’m wrong

i don’t think i’ll ever go the way you did
cause i’m too big to fit through the eye of a needle
yeah, cause my name is

my name is johnny, how do you do
you think i’ve something, well so do you
yeah, u-huh

i feel your pain boy
could you give me back my little joy
cause my
my name is johnny, how do you do
yeah i’m just like you

my name is johnny
uh huh, yeah, i’m just like you
my name in johnny
i’m the wild one
i’m the wild one on a ship of fools
my name is johnny
uh huh, i’m the wild one
but i’m just like you
my name is johnny
uh huh, yeah

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