From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack TIMES SQUARE (songbook)

Posted on 24th December 2015 in "Times Square"

Songbook containing the sheet music of the songs comprising the soundtrack to the movie "Times Square" Cover text: From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack TIMES SQUARE A Robert Stigwood Production Featuring Music Of SUZI QUATRO, THE PRETENDERS, ROXY MUSIC, GARY NUMAN, MARCY LEVY & ROBIN GIBB, TALKING HEADS, JOE JACKSON, XTC, THE RAMONES, ROBIN JOHNSON & TRINI ALVARADO, THE RUTS, D.L. BYRON, LOU REED, DESMOND CHILD & ROUGE, GARLAND JEFFREYS, THE CURE, PATTI SMITH GROUP, DAVID JOHANSEN


… is exactly what it sounds like, a squarebound book collecting the sheet music for all the songs appearing on the Times Square soundtrack album. This of course excludes “Dangerous Type” by The Cars, which although heard for quite a bit longer in the film than some of the other songs (“Grinding Halt” and “Pretty Boys” spring to mind), wasn’t included on the record and so didn’t make it into the songbook.


The cover looks unfinished, somehow… it’s the album cover extended vertically, but in my opinion the Times Square logo should have been enlarged… there’s just too much empty space there in the middle. Most interestingly, though, it’s not just the album cover, it’s the UK album cover, without Nicky’s Johnny LaGuardia pin. This continues on the inside: the first few pages of the songbook are larger versions of the photos that appear on the inner gatefold of the record cover, and again, it’s the set as they appear on the UK edition. Tim Curry is nowhere to be seen, his photograph replaced with a group of sign-wielding Sleez Girls. The song listing also contains the same typo as the UK album cover. The no-prize for identifying it is still unclaimed.


The pictures in the songbook are cropped differently from the ones in the album, generally showing more at the top and bottom and less on the sides. This is most visible in the tv-dropping shot, and in the Sleez Girls shot, where the songbook version loses entirely the girls holding the “I’m a Monster” and “T.V. Sucks” signs. The exception is the Times Square Theater marquee shot, which shows more of all four sides in the songbook.

For your convenience, here’s the text that appears in near-unreadable blue type on pages 3 and 4:

[Page 2]

TIMES SQUARE a contemporary drama with music, stars the brightest new talents of
Tim Curry, British performer best known for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Trini
Alvarado, who scored a remarkable screen bow in Robert Altman’s “Rich Kids,” and
introduces Robin Johnson, a dynamic 16-year old Brooklyn actress and singer in her
film debut.

TIMES SQUARE depicts the misadventures of two rebellious teenage girls, one from
an affluent environment, the other a product of the streets. Together, they flee from
their room in a neurological hospital, commandeer an ambulance and begin a series of
wild and bizarre escapades with their behavior reported by an all-night disc jockey,
played by Tim Curry, who urges them on as their antics turn them into minor media
celebrities. Dubbed “The Sleez Sisters,” their flight from authority of any kind is
climaxed in a nerve-tingling dramatic conclusion atop the marquee of a Times Square
theater as hundreds of their teenage followers below cheer in tribute.

[Page 3]

The TIMES SQUARE soundtrack is one of the most exciting ever compiled. It presents
a unique anthology of original songs written expressly for the film plus rock classics by
major contemporary artists from both England and the United States. Featured artists
are Suzi Quatro, The Pretenders, Roxy Music, Gary Numan, The Talking Heads, Joe
Jackson, Patti Smith, XTC, Garland Jeffreys, The Cure, Lou Reed, The Ramones, The
Ruts, Desmond Child and Rouge, Marcy Levy and Robin Gibb, D.L. Byron and David
Johansen. “Rock Hard,” “Help Me!,” “Pretty Boys,” “Take This Town,” “Damn Dog,”
“Flowers of the City,” and “Your Daughter Is One” are just some of the original titles
from the film.

Rock classics include “Walk On The Wild Side,” “Life During Wartime,” “I Wanna Be
Sedated,” and an amazing new rendition of the Supremes’ hit “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

The motion picture and the brilliantly compiled soundtrack recording portray the
colorful and restless segment of a young, contemporary generation and its music.

Unfortunately, the printing of the photos in the songbook isn’t all that great. The record cover versions of the photos can be seen in the US Soundtrack post; the Tim Curry-replacing Sleez Girls photo can be seen in the UK Soundtrack post.

If you’re hoping to see the sheet music here, sorry; there are some things that would almost certainly be an indefensible violation of copyright and which I will not post here, such as the actual soundtrack music, the entire film, and, yes, any song’s complete sheet music, let alone the entire songbook. I will post one page of it, just as an example. As I’ve noted before, the first page of the sheet music to “Damn Dog” is one of the few places that Norman Ross’ writing credit appears. The first four measures therefore are his riff.


Finally… one last longing look at the magnificent photo by Mick Rock that adorns the back cover of the album and songbook. As I noted last time, there are three other photos I know of where Robin is in that outfit, holding that particular Kent guitar. Mr. Rock has not as yet replied to my inquiry about them.

Photograph by Mick Rock of Robin Johnson as Nicky Marotta from the back cover of the songbook containing the sheet music of the songs comprising the soundtrack to the movie "Times Square"

Merry Christmas!



From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack TIMES SQUARE; songbook (AAT ID: 300026432), 9 in (W) x 12 in (H); 90 pp. (work); front and back covers, pp 1-9, 47 displayed


©1980 Chappell & Co.


The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack “TIMES SQUARE”

Posted on 23rd October 2015 in "Times Square"

Finally, here’s what all the fuss was about. The 2 record set containing all but one of the songs from the film. In their haste to load the film with soundtrack material, they actually added one too many, and for some reason lost to time, the excellent “Dangerous Type” by The Cars was cut.

All but one of the photos on the inside gatefold were used at least once more, some several times – for instance, we’ve already seen the shot of Pammy and Nicky singing “Your Daughter Is One” on the cover of the Japanese “Same Old Scene” 45.

The album was released worldwide in 1980 and 1981, and never re-pressed or re-issued in any form. (If you have a CD, it’s a pirated copy.) Whether Robert Stigwood met his goal of reaping massive profits from the soundtrack, leaving the movie to act only as a bit of publicity for the record, I don’t know. I do know that for years, you could go into Sounds on St. Mark’s Place and be assured of finding at least one copy for $1.00. I also know that, unlike the movie, the soundtrack garnered nothing but good reviews, and gained cult status as a great collection of music long before the film achieved its own cult status.

“Talk of the Town” is the single version, not the edited version released on the Pretenders’ Extended Play and Pretenders II. It’s the version used in the video and eventually found a home on the collection The Singles.

The version of “Down in the Park” seems to be the same basic recording as the version on the album Replicas, but is missing a number of effects and synthesizer tracks. It’s also quite a bit different from the “early version” on Disc 2 of the Replicas Redux 2008 expanded edition. It has never been released on CD as far as I know.

“Help Me!” probably would have found a home on Marcy Levy’s debut album, had that ever been completed. She’d been signed with RSO since 1976 but that project never came out, and apparently she’s not exactly disappointed about that:

Born and bred in Detroit, Michigan she sang as Marcy Levy with myriad bands on the rock scene in the Motor City in the early Seventies before signing to RSO Records in 1976. ‘In the beginning they put me with a great producer called David Foster, but the album was never released.

‘It was an R’n’B album because I’ve always been involved in blues and soul, but they were always trying to pigeonhole me.’

“Damn Dog” is still missing Norman Ross’ writing credit. It’s on the sheet music, as we’ve seen, but for some reason it only appears intermittently on the records. It is there front and center on “Your Daughter is One,” at least.

“Flowers in the City” has never appeared anywhere else, even in a re-recorded version without Robin. It looks like starting with that song, David Johansen began a habit of making one-off recordings for other people’s projects and then moving on to something else.

I’ve long had a theory that “Flowers in the City,” the one song on the soundtrack that doesn’t appear in the film, was supposed to be the original closing theme, not “Help Me!”, but attractive as this idea still is I’ve yet to some across any real evidence for it.

Joe Jackson’s “Pretty Boys” and Garland Jeffreys’ “Innocent, Not Guilty” both seem to have been recorded expressly for the soundtrack. The sound recordings of both are copyrighted to RSO, and “Innocent” was engineered by the same person who engineered “Your Daughter is One.” Both songs would appear in totally new versions on the artists’ next albums, but to my knowledge these RSO-owned recordings have never been re-released.

Jimmy Iovine had recently come from producing Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes album when he was brought in board to help produce the Times Square soundtrack, leading to the announcements that Tom Petty would appear on the soundtrack. That didn’t happen of course, but Iovine was producing D. L. Byron’s debut album This Day and Age at the time, and tapped him and his band to provide the backing tracks for both versions of “Damn Dog,” and a cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

“Actually, ‘Shadows of the Night’ was written for Times Square. Jimmy [Iovine] had just finished mis-producing my first record. He was the Musical Coordinator/ Director for the film. I asked him about the plot… he gave me a brief synopsis… rich girl meets poor girl, they run away, hide on a pier, hook up with a late night FM DJ, and begin these strange communications, etc. So I took all that in, went home and sat down at the piano with my legal pad and pen, and ‘Shadows’ popped out in only what seemed like twenty minutes. Those are the best songs. The ones that don’t require any labor or crafting. They just write themselves, if you’re willing to get out of the way.

“The producers of the film couldn’t find an appropriate placement for the song. They came to me with a cassette of Graham Parker performing ‘Can’t Hurry Love’ live. So I suppose it can be said that my version was modeled on Parker’s.”

— D. L. Byron, 19 April 2013 and 13 September 2015


Graham Parker’s version had been recorded in 1976 and released on the promo only album Live at Marble Arch. That album itself had achieved its own cult status and was widely taped and bootlegged, but unlike Times Square it finally got a digital release in 1996 as part of the second disc of the greatest hits compilation Vertigo. It is recognizably the same arrangement, but much as I love Graham Parker, I think Byron plays it better. I may be biased.

Byron told the above story in this interview from 2012, in much the same words but with a few more details, such as that the original interest in “Shadows of the Night” (yes, the “Shadows of the Night” that would become a massive hit for Pat Benatar two years later) (can you imagine? “Shadows of the Night” making its debut in Times Square?) was as the opening number (which is Roxy Music’s “Same Old Scene” in the film, and was The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” in the May 1979 screenplay). And, again in my opinion, there is a good place for the song and, like “Flowers in the City,” it’s in place of “Help Me!” It would have been a perfect closing anthem for the movie. But, I suppose the fix was already in with Stigwood for anyone named Gibb.

And, last but not least, returning to announced songs that are missing from the soundtrack — whatever happened to David Bowie? I have a theory about that, too…

But first — I could have sworn that I’d found a reference in text to Bowie being included on the soundtrack while it was still in production, but if so I’ve mislaid it. The only references in print of a song that didn’t make it are to Tom Petty’s “Refugee.” If I’ve double-crossed myself and there is one such that I’ve posted and forgotten about, please someone point me to it. Otherwise, the only real clue is Allan Moyle’s recollection on the Anchor Bay DVD commentary track that there had been a Bowie song planned.

The only confirmation I ever got was in the form of an email from a Robin fan, who said

The Bowie song omitted from the soundtrack was a version of “Life On Mars?” which I have heard is quite different from the classic that we all know and love. He also recorded an alternate version of “The Night Was Not” (My personal fave on the soundtrack) with Desmond Child. A few years ago my wife recounted to me an interview she read in some rock magazine with Desmond Child in which he discussed the music he has done for film. The names of the movie and song struck her (as she’s heard me prattle on about it), as did his mention of Bowie, so she told me about it and it’s one of those things that just sticks in the back of your mind, you know?

I’ve searched for such a magazine/interview with no luck, and several inquiries to Desmond Child have gone unanswered.

As far as I know no such rerecording of “Life on Mars?” has ever surfaced, and there don’t seem to even be any promising bootlegs from that time; no evidence that anything at all was recorded. Now, this would have been just after the time Bowie had been recording Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). When the video for “Fashion” was shot in October, it featured among its cast G. E. Smith, who had not played on the track or the album. He had been, however, a member of Desmond Child & Rouge for the album Runners in the Night, from which “The Night was Not” came. If Child and Bowie had been collaborating on a track, it’s likely that’s how Bowie and Smith met.

And that would be how Smith came to be in Bowie’s band on September 3, 1980, playing “Life on Mars?” and “Ashes to Ashes” on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Carson introduced the songs as both being about space, but “Ashes to Ashes” is more about heroin addiction, and “Life on Mars” is about… a young girl escaping her awful home life by running to the movies.

In trying to do research for this post, I saw many posts about Bowie’s Tonight Show performance, wondering about the strange choice Bowie made in pairing the nine-year-old “Life on Mars?” with the new single. I think he had both the arrangement and G. E. Smith handy, because a new recording of “Life on Mars?” had been in the works for the Times Square soundtrack. This performance is as close as we’ll get to the mystery track. — In my highly speculative opinion. I point out again, there is absolutely no proof for any of this. But, it is a good excuse to watch this again:



D.L. Byron’s debut album This Day and Age is available through Amazon. The rest of his work is available from Zen Archer Records.



The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Times Square, RSO RS-2-4203; US, 1980; 2 long-playing records (AAT 300265802) with gatefold picture sleeve (AAT 300266823) and illustrated inner sleeves (work)
©1980 Butterfly Valley NV


emails from Jnrsimmons2004, 9 and 12 February 2007


Edited 4 December 2015 to include details of the interior gatefold photographs.


“Special Preview of Selected Cuts”

Posted on 26th September 2015 in "Times Square"

This 6-track, white-labelled, white-sleeved record was used by RSO to promote the Times Square soundtrack in the U.S. As there was no art, it may be the most boring promotional item released. It would have been distributed to radio stations, and copies were later handed out at the film’s premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater, or at the party afterward at Tavern on the Green, on October 14, 1980.

Can’t argue with the track list for Side One: “Life During Wartime” and “Talk of the Town” are two of the best songs on the soundtrack, and “Damn Dog” IS the film. Side Two starts with “Rock Hard” and closes with “Same Old Scene,” two more winners, and in between is sandwiched “Help Me!” which was Robert Stigwood hedging his bets.

Would you buy the double-album soundtrack based on this? There certainly is no incentive anywhere in this package to go see the movie. I wonder if the lack of a picture sleeve was of any note to the people who got this record at the premiere.

I do note that Norman Ross’s writing credit is absent from “Damn Dog.” Yes, I didn’t know who he was before last Christmas, but now I am righteously angry on his behalf.



RPO 1026
(RPO 1026 AS)
33⅓ RPM
(D. Byrne)
(C. Hynde)
(B. Mernit-J. Brackman)
RPO 1026
(RPO 1026 BS)
33⅓ RPM
(M. Chapman-N. Chinn)
(R. Gibb-B. Weaver)
℗ 1980 YAM, INC.
(B. Ferry)


“Damn Dog”

Posted on 24th December 2014 in "Times Square"

8"x10" color print of Robin Johnson performing "Damn Dog" - shot not as it appears in the film

Left to right: Trini Alvarado, Robin Johnson, Artie Weinstein, Paul Sass. Just beyond the periphery: Billy Mernit

Back to the 8 x 10 Kodak prints… here’s another shot of Robin as Nicky dressed up as Aggie playing “Damn Dog” in the Cleo Club, and as always, there’s no frame in the film that matches up. The frame I’ve chosen is the only one where Robin has both hands on her guitar, is singing into the mic, and most importantly Artie has his hand up spinning his drum stick. But, not only is the shot framed entirely differently and from a different position, Robin isn’t even facing the same direction, and may not be singing the same word.Aggie Doon (Nicky Marotta [Robin Johnson]) perfoms "Damn Dog" - Frame capture from "Times Square" (1980)


“Aggie Doon.” In the commentary audio track on the 2000 Anchor Bay DVD, Robin asks director Allan Moyle why they went with that name, and he doesn’t remember. I seem to remember hearing something about Nicky using a pseudonym because, after all, she’s wanted by the police, but I don’t remember where it was I came across that idea. That doesn’t really make sense, though, since Pammy is dancing under her own real name. The screenplay doesn’t explain it either.


"Times Square" Screenplay by Jacob Brackman, 1979, p. 77

Also on the commentary track, in the previous scene where Nicky reads her poem to Pammy, Moyle claims that Robin wrote part of it, and she’s gobsmacked because although she was writing and performing poetry at the time of the commentary’s recording, she has no recollection of contributing to “Damn Dog.” The reason for that is simple: she didn’t. The poem she recites in the film is almost word-for-word the poem Jacob Brackman wrote in the early draft of the screenplay, months before she was discovered; and unless she changed her name to Norman Ross, she didn’t contribute any of the changes made when it was turned into the song."Damn Dog, by Billy Mernit, Jacob Brackman, and Norman Ross"

What’s my point? I guess it’s that Allan Moyle, bless ‘im, is something of an unreliable narrator when it comes to the making of Times Square.


More importantly, though… if Robin isn’t Norman Ross, then who is?
 Norman Ross (left), co-writer of "Damn Dog" and "Your Daughter is One," playing guitar. Photo provided by Billy Mernit.

“Norman was one of my closest friends and was the backbone of my band for many years – a stellar guitarist. He was the soul of rock’n’roll incarnate. He died a number of years ago due to a lifetime of wretched excess.

“Specific to ‘Damn Dog,’ he’s responsible for the guitar phrasing of its signature lick – that ‘Dat-DAT-dut! Da-DAH-da-da-da…’ figure, which was in a sense Norman channeling Keith Richards. (The lyrics are Jacob’s with some revisions/additions of mine, and the melody and chord structure is me.)”

— Billy Mernit


If you’re here reading this odds are the chords that kick off “Damn Dog” are burned permanently into your brain. If you play guitar you’ve had a bash at them more than once. They mean something to you in a visceral way. Can you imagine “Damn Dog” without that lick? Can you imagine “Times Square” without a song featuring that lick? Norman Ross created this specific thing without which the effect and the affect of the movie would have been immeasurably diminished. There’d be something missing from your life and you’d never know it.

It’s a shame he’s not around so we could express our appreciation directly, but at least we can now keep his name alive whenever we hear “Damn Dog” start up.

I dedicate this to Norman Ross, and all the other dinosaurs that got kicked outta the band.



“Damn Dog, 60-6A”
color photographic print, 8 in (H) x 10 in (W) (work);
866 px (W) x 1080 px (H), 96 dpi, 491 kb (image)

inscription: [on back:] [handwritten:] 60-6A


853 px (W) x 480 px (H), 72 dpi, 737 kb (image)
frame capture from Times Square (1980)
captured 2014-12-07


Screenplay by Jacob Brackman


“TIMES SQUARE” Songbook, p. 47 (detail)
800 px (W) x 194 px (H) (image)


Norman Ross in Action
329 px (W) x 632 px (H), 72 dpi, 100 kb (image)
Photo courtesy Billy Mernit
provided 2014-12-15, edited 2014-12-21


Times Square ©1980 StudioCanal/Canal+