Thursday, January 24, 2008

Robert DeNiro Movies

From the title of this post, you might think a discussion of 'Raging Bull' vs. 'Midnight Run' was about to follow. Sorry! Another time, another blog. (For the record I would choose 'Midnight Run' if I had to show someone one piece of work to define DeNiro...don't even argue, I'm right.)

No, this post is far more obscure than the title suggests. Once again, I must go back into the murky depths of my past.

Somewhere, out there in this enclosed space we call Earth, a cassete tape or LP sits. On it, a song called 'Robert DeNiro Movies' rests, unplayed. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.

I spent 4 years of high school and 5 years of college in Kingston, RI. Music then, as it is now, was my passion, my escape, my obsession. From the moment I got my driver's license I made constant road trips to Providence to see punk bands in the various shitholes that presented all-ages shows. I scoured the local and national newspapers for any story that vaguely mentioned this underground world I'd become a part of.

A local URI band seemed to be gaining quite a bit of popularity and notoriety. Called That'll Learn Ya, they were comprised of 5 guys. 2 guitars, bass, drums, singer. This would have been 1984 or so. I think the guitarists were brothers. They had entered some Snickers songwriting contest and a record contract seemed quite possible.

I saw them play at the Student Union on the URI campus while I was still in high school. Occasionally I'd be on campus to visit my dad in the library, or go shopping in the record store that had the strange stuff I was into. Quite often in the afternoons That'll Learn Ya would be rocking away on a small stage. People wandered in and out, it seemed more like a public rehearsal than an actual concert.

I'd also seen them play an outdoor show on the Quadrangle and I think I'd seen them open up for a traveling punk band at a club in Providence. I bought the 45 they put out that had a great REM jangly number called 'Pulling Up the Night' on it. Think REM with a more growly Eddie Vedder type on vocals. I remember them being quite good live and I thought the few songs I heard on the 45 were okay.

But they had a masterpiece. I bought a small hand made cassette of theirs. Red construction paper insert with strange little cartoons on it...4 songs or so on each side. I think I paid $4.99 for it, or something like that.

I remember nothing of 7 of these songs. But one has stuck in my head for the last 20 some years. 'Robert DeNiro Movies'. I can hear the damn thing in my head. Unfortunately, I lost the cassette somewhere along the way. It is the only piece of music that I wish I had access to that I cannot get access to.

The snippet of lyric that comes back is as follows:

God, are you the one who rents me Robert DeNiro movies?
When you get drunk do things mean more than they should?

I can sing those two lines.

I'm putting it out into the ether right here and now. Anyone know the dudes in that band? That'll Learn Ya. I think the singer was named Terry Fallon.

In my mind it is like a pebble thrown out over a lake that will never drop into the water, creating the preordained ripple. I want that ripple.


Anonymous said...

I saw That'll Learn Ya open up for the Dead Milkmen back in '89... I have also tried to track down this tune (hence how I came across your blog), but to no avail...

Bill Pyne said...

Vocals: Terry Fallon
Guitar 1: Al Valatka
Guitar 2: Ted "The Hippie" Cunningham
Bass: Rick Harris
Drums: Dave "CroMag" Harris

I can't remember the name of the tape you talked about, but they did a compilation called "Vic the Van" that should have it and would be easier to find.

They won the BRU Rock Hunt in 88 and placed second to Bop Harvey in 89, with The Philtres finishing just after them.

Good luck finding the old tapes.

Bill Pyne said...

Sorry. Just a correction. They didn't win the 88 Rock Hunt. (Makes sense since they wouldn't have been allowed to compete in 89.)

Anonymous said...

yep, i played in Terry's next band, 59 Teeth from 1991-1994.
Ted Cunningham sometimes played with us also. I wish I had more tapes of shows. The other guitar player is holding out, has the tapes.
I think every local musician wishes he had more material from before the tech boom made everything easier. Ron.

Brendan O'Malley said...

wow! i haven't even checked this to see if anyone commented. i am so upset! thanks so much for your that'll learn ya reminiscences. what a good band. 59 teeth was great too.

Sheila O'Malley said...

I remember that song, Bren! Of course you were the one who played it for me! It's gotta exist out there somewhere.

If I can strike up a correspondence with you-know-who, then you can find this tape!!

Blicky Kitty said...

Hey, Brendan (Laurel here) I think I remember seeing them as well. I'll ask around. Hi to Sheila!

Bill Pyne said...

Hi Brendan,

Recently TLY put together a Facebook profile. They uploaded a bunch of their songs with Robert Deniro Movies being one of them. There is also a possible reunion coming together.