I was watching “That Thing You Do!” today while I folded laundry. Don’t judge! Some of you might remember that movie. It came out in 1996, starring Tom Hanks, Liv Tyler and a bunch of other lesser-known actors. The story is about a fictional one-hit wonder band called The Wonders in 1964. I won’t dwell on plot points or the groovy clothes. But it has a happy ending and fun music.
It got interesting when, after they played a gig at a state fair with a radio station executive in attendance, their record zoomed to #7. Then they were whisked off to Hollywood. The big time! Playing on a TV variety show, much like the Ed Sullivan show of yore. As they came out to their car that would zoom them to the airport, a crowd of enthusiastic fans awaited them. They had signs with the band members names on them – “Shades” for the drummer, etc. They screamed when they glimpsed the band emerging from their underground lair.
Remember when you were little and you wanted your mom or dad to watch you? Same idea. “Watch me, Mommy!” you sang out as you swung higher and higher on the swing. “Daddy, look at this!” you called as you bravely jumped off the top step of the staircase. We never outgrow this need to be seen for who we really are and acknowledged. Your parents clapped for you or said, “Good job!”
The Wonders loved the attention. Finally, recognition! They all figured they could get used to it. As they rushed to their car, I started to tear up. I felt the Lord whisper, “This is what all people seek. They want to be appreciated and recognized, cheered for who they are. That’s why so many seek rock star fame. But what they don’t know is that I’m cheering for them, wildly, all the time. They just can’t see it.”
The Wonders, according to the movie, had a falling out. The lead singer/songwriter didn’t want to cover the studio’s songs; he wanted to do his own songs. He bailed, thereby breaking up the band. He started his own group and went on to musical success with that. The bassist went to Disneyland and never made it to the TV appearance. He joined the Marines shortly thereafter, serving 2 tours in Vietnam and receiving the Purple Heart. The other guitarist went on to manage a casino. The drummer and his wife founded a conservatory. All of the former members of The Wonders found success. For a brief, shining moment, they were on top of the world. Then the world turned.
Recognition is important. How we need it and how much we need it changes as we age. But it’s something we never outgrow. Hopefully, The ex-Wonders found enough “atta boys” from their adult vocations, though perhaps without matching suits or the accompaniment of fainting girls.
What?! You know you wanted to hear it!