Jonathan Demme directed the classic 1984 Talking Heads concert film “Stop Making Sense” and, more recently, three Neil Young documentaries. But he is also a big fan of the Jersey rock group The Feelies. He hired them to play a high school reunion band in his 1986 film “Something Wild,” and featured them on the soundtrack of 1988’s “Married Them to the Mob.” And the way his video for their song “Away,” below, captures the kinetic energy of the band in concert may remind viewers of “Stop Making Sense.”
The group formed in Haledon in 1976 and frequently performed at Maxwell’s in Hoboken; they are one of the bands most responsible for building a vibrant rock scene in Hoboken in the ’80s. Among the groups influenced most directly by both their intensity and their ability to project a sense of mystery were R.E.M and Yo La Tengo.
They broke up in 1992, but have reunited occasionally since 2008. Group members Glenn Mercer, Bill Million, Dave Weckerman, Brenda Sauter and Stan Demeski have also remained active with countless side and solo projects over the years.
“Away” is from The Feelies’ 1988 album Only Life, and the video was shot at Maxwell’s, though there is also a shot at the end of The Feelies walking to the Hoboken train station — perhaps to catch a train back to Haledon.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday from Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. The complete list is here.