There was one video in my families library in the eighties that got constant rotation. To the point where I had to start putting in that little piece of paper between the tape and the VCR to play the damn thing anymore. Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky and Hutch) 1986 coming of age film on meth BAND OF THE HAND . It wasn’t a blockbuster, but it was a classic. The film had the Michael Mann feel to it in every way and rightly so given he was the films producer and was still reeling in the success of the Miami Vice television series.
The film zeroes in on five juvenile delinquents who are plucked from their various detention facilities and unceremoniously dumped in the wilds of the Everglades. The boys begin to panic until hardcase Vietnam veteran Stephen Lang arrives. Lang explains that they’ve been paroled in his custody, and that it is his task to teach them how to work as a team in order to survive. The logic of this plan is to whip the boys into an elite vigilante unit, then sic them on the various drug dealers of America.
The film starred Stephen Lang (AVATAR), Lawrence Fishburne (The Matrix), Lauren Holly (Ford Fairlane) and James Remar (The Warriors). It also had an awesome who’s who 80’s supporting cast Michael Carmine (Batteries Not Included), Leon (The Flamingo Kid) and John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig And The Angry Inch). All that aside, the center piece in neon extravaganza is the song by Bob Dylan performed by himself with the help of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and background vocals by Stevie Nicks. In the movie it plays during the opening when we are being introduced to the main juveniles in various stages of delinquency and ultimately arrest. I’ve never heard a piece of music other than Tony Bennet‘s “Rags To Riches” off the “Goodfellas” soundtrack, that has ever set up a whole movie like this before. Let me explain, in 1986 I was in 6th grade and knew nothing about blues. There was that Crossroads film with Ralph Macchio, but I only saw bits and pieces of that Hollywood gem. Even if I had, the lyrics in Band Of The Hand cut through all the fluff and gave you a quick education in street. At least what I thought was street for a 6th grader living in the burbs. I don’t know if whether Dylan was speaking from experience, but it certainly feels that way when you listen to the song.The song buried itself deep in my mind for a long time making trips to Miami for this, at the time Orlando resident, so scary. It stands as one of my top ten favorite songs in a movie to this day.
Taken from Wikipedia:
The song was released on the soundtrack album, Band of the Hand (MCA-6167, 1986) and also as both a 45 rpm 7″ single (MCA-52811, 1986) and as 12″ single (MCA-23633, 1986). Both singles were backed on the B-side by “Joe’s Death,” an instrumental from the Michael Rubini soundtrack to the film. All three formats are currently deleted. The version of the song that is heard in the film is slightly longer, and has a different mix than that heard on any of the vinyl releases.The single reached number 28 on the Billboard chart.
If you’ve never seen the film I highly recommend it. It’s like watching a bit of the 70’s in the 80’s.