Jonathan Demme, who died today at the age of 73, will be most remembered, of course, for directing films such as “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Philadelphia,” “Something Wild,” “Married to the Mob” and “Melvin and Howard.” But it’s worth nothing that he also had a major impact on the careers of several New Jersey musicians.
Most famously, he asked Bruce Springsteen to write a song for his 1993 film “Philadelphia,” and The Boss’ “Streets of Philadelphia” became a top 10 single and Academy Award and multiple Grammy Award winner. Demme also co-directed the video for the song, as well as the video for Springsteen’s “Murder Incorporated,” in 1995 (watch both below)
Springsteen posted on his website, BruceSpringsteen.net, today: “Over here on E Street, we’re deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Jonathan Demme. He was an inspiration for me, a beautiful filmmaker and a great spirit. Always smiling, always involved with the world and always pushing you to go for your best. He’ll be deeply missed.”
Demme was also a big fan of The Feelies, having them perform, under a pseudonym (The Willies) in 1986’s “Something Wild” (watch below) and using their “Too Far Gone” on the soundtrack of 1988’s “Married to the Mob.” He also directed their 1988 video for “Away.” (watch below)
“We are saddened to hear of Jonathan’s passing,” The Feelies posted on their Facebook page today. “He was a great friend and supporter. Our condolences to his family.”
In 1984, Demme directed the video for Steven Van Zandt‘s all-star anti-apartheid single, “Sun City.” (watch below) And the “Something Wild” soundtrack included Jimmy Cliff’s version of Van Zandt’s “You Don’t Have to Cry.”
In a Facebook message, Van Zandt called Demme “One of our great filmmakers and one of the most beautiful souls on the planet. His contribution to our Sun City video was crucial in getting Nelson Mandela released and bringing down the South African apartheid regime. Another magical irreplaceable friend gone.”
In Demme’s classic 1984 Talking Heads concert film “Stop Making Sense,” legendary New Jersey keyboardist Bernie Worrell was featured as part of the extended Talking Heads lineup. (watch a clip from the film below)
And for his 2015 film “Ricki and the Flash,” Demme had Meryl Streep sing Springsteen’s “My Love Will Not Let You Down,” and used Worrell as a member of Streep’s fictional band. (watch below)
Worrell died last year, at the age of 72.