"Goooooood Mooorning, Vietnaaam!"
The moment I heard that Robin Williams had died of a possible suicide, my thoughts, as they do in such situations, immediately leapt to all the things he'd done that had affected me. There was "Mork & Mindy" from when I was a kid and "The Fisher King" from when I was a bit older, but neither compared to "Good Morning, Vietnam," and not even the film so much as the soundtrack.
In 1988 the soundtrack went platinum, cracked the top 10 and won Williams one of his five Grammys (he actually picked up another one that same year for "Pecos Bill," his children's music project with Ry Cooder) and no wonder. It's an impeccable selection of songs, albeit overly short considering how many tunes made it into the loosely based biography of Vietnam war disc jockey Adrian Cronauer.
But what set the soundtrack above and beyond was that it included Robin's improvisational ADHD riffs, which could feel forced in other contexts but were perfectly suited to DJ patter. Williams joking about it being so damn hot in Poon Tang that you could cook things in your shorts ("a little crotchpot cooking") before introducing Martha and the Vandellas "Nowhere To Run To" is simply a perfect combination of comedy and music.
It was also a perfect combination, at the time, of my comedic sensibilities and my father's musical preferences. We had that cassette pretty much lodged in the car's cassette deck and it was almost the perfect length for the drive from our beach town to downtown Vancouver.
When I think of the soundtrack, I think of my dad and me sitting in the car with the stereo cranked, laughing at Williams routines as the soundtrack ran the gamut from well-known classics like Beach Boys' "I Get Around," James Brown's "I Feel Good" and Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" to more obscure oldies like The Castaway's "Liar, Liar," Wayne Fontana's "Game of Love" and the Marvelettes' "Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead."
Anyway, that's where my thoughts went when I heard and then I found this YouTube video of the entire "Good Morning, Vietnam" soundtrack and I wanted to share.
Are you in crisis? Need help? In Canada, find links and numbers to 24-hour suicide crisis lines in your province here.