As I rip the Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack CD – which is worth buying for all kinds of reasons – I find myself playing one song over and over: Pete Townsend’s only-available-here version of “Let My Love Open the Door.”
This rendition is a down-tempo, almost coffeehouse version of the ’80s pop standard that played during the most quietly electric moment of the movie. Martin and Debi are at the Grosse Pointe High School reunion, sitting in the balcony alone, leaning on the rail, and looking into each others eyes. At that moment, they stop being the hard-as-nails DJ and the battle-weary assassin, her bitterness and his confusion evaporate, and they’re in love again in a way that you can only be in love at eighteen. She’s his world, and he’s hers.
The song floats and soars, the keyboards giving it an almost supernal quality. Then, about halfway through, Townsend does something subversive – he weaves the iconic chords of “Teenage Wasteland” into the song, giving it an emotional connection with the torment of maturing that the original lacked. We listen, and we, with Martin and Debi, are now doing what we all do – we are hearing those same songs that we heard then, but now they are different because we are different. And yet, fundamentally, the song, and we, are the same.
Townsend, composer Joe Strummer (of The Clash) and Cusack (the clear creative force behind the film) are, in a single song, delivering the message of the movie. You can go home. You can reconnect with your youth without getting sucked into the butterscotch pit of dewy-eyed nostalgia or maudlin regrets. The moment of re-connection brings to an older, more jaded, more wounded heart the essence of what was wonderful and shitty and pure and debased about being young, and in the process becomes a healing that makes us more whole.
Listen to it in a dark room, with a candle burning and your high school yearbooks open.