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Be quiet

Earth hospital,

Big boys don’t cry

1988,

Big boys don’t cry

Young Peter Quill,

Big boys don’t cry

Lost in space before being lost in space.

Big boys don’t cry

His mother’s dying in another room, but his mind is locked into the soothing narco-catharsis of Messrs. Kevin Godley and Lol Creme and Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman and 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love,” a détente of pop and art, a song not from Peter Quill’s time but one he’d recognize from radio — oldies radio -- a bone-bucket smash from nineteenseventysometime, something his mother would like and did like and enjoyed enough to give to her only son on a cassette labeled “Awesome Mix, Vol. 1”

Big boys don’t cry

before she closed her eyes and his world fell apart figuratively and literally as an alien spaceship tore open the clouds and pulled him into space

Big boys don’t cry

and all that would remain of his earthly life would be memories compacted into this ancient tape, a memento of his youth and roots and his connection to his mother, and he’d need it to remain grounded even as he scrubbed the stars for valuables and insisted everyone he encountered to know his reputation as Star-Lord (actor Chris Pratt maintains enough of the young, confused Peter Quill to inform his “adult” half, to add a quaver of uncertainty to his boldness, like "Parks and Recreation's" Andy Dwyer mimicking Han Solo and knowing he sounds ridiculous, but given a spaceship and a badass Wookiee … ).

Big boys don’t cry

So what you end up with in “Guardians of the Galaxy” is music that, like Peter Quill, is ripped from its time, place and context and launched into a deliberately foreign setting where such sounds don’t usually exist (one could say film genres, and one would be both right and wrong, for 1981’s “Heavy Metal” welded rock to outer space, but it basked in more contemporary oeuvres). David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” is “Guardian’s” only space-specific number, one of the few pulled from an album consistently in print (1972’s “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”). The others were separated long ago from their long-playing parents to become stand-alone artist representatives or decade-specific compilation fixtures.

Sonically, “Guardians of the Galaxy” plays almost as a tribute to music usage in previous films: Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” (“Reservoir Dogs”), the Elvin Bishop Group’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” (“Boogie Nights”), Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” (“Dick”), The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb” (“Dazed and Confused”), and the Five Stairsteps’ “O-o-h Child” (“Boyz n tha Hood”). Many of these songs had also been featured in Razor & Tie’s “’70s Preservation Society” and Rhino’s 25-volume “Have a Nice Day” series, both of which were instrumental in the decade’s resurgence as a pop-culture phenomenon in the early 1990s.

In almost all of those movies, the music was used to establish period atmosphere — except for “Reservoir Dogs,” however, which was set in the modern day (1992) and used the purported innocence of then-largely-forgotten ’70s AM rock to juxtapose scenes of graphic violence and tension for twisted comic absurdity. “Hooked’s” “ooga-shaka-ooga-ooga-ooga-shaka” chant followed Tim Roth’s undercover cop into the planning stages of the bloody heist that will quite literally drain him. “You ever listen to K-Billy’s ‘Super Sounds of the ’70s?,’” one character asks another; in an hour, they’ll both be dead, everyone will be dead, marching toward Valhalla to the George Baker Selection’s “Little Green Bag.”

“Guardians” is less brutal but no less comic, often employing music to oppose its corresponding scene’s pace. And while it’s freaky to hear the Raspberries’ “Go All the Way” in space, one recognizes the malleability of its majesty and craft (and appreciate the range of vocalist Eric Carmen, later a soundtrack Sinatra of sorts when he contributed the massively-out-of-place “Hungry Eyes” to 1987’s “Dirty Dancing”) as a rip-roaring distorto-tumbler that melts into backseat sugar and back again: lust and woo, woo and lust, boomeranging into Beatles territory (“come on, come on”) and succeeding in all attempts, and if it belongs here among the starships, well, then it belongs most everywhere.

The genius of the soundtrack’s sequencing lies in its seemingly slapdash assemblage: one familiar song crashes blindly into another and seems to follow no thematic flow. “Go All the Way” crunches into Norman Greenbaum’s revival-raunch “Spirit in the Sky” (far more carnivorous than its antiseptic Dr. and the Medics cover in 1986, although the song was so damn catchy that neither artist could hope to follow it); “I’m Not in Love’s” dreamy atmospherics tango with the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” Motown’s hit factory at full power; “Cherry Bomb” snarls at “Come and Get Your Love,” a number it wouldn’t normally associate with on any planet; and Rupert Holmes’ fruit-flavored “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” backs its liquid heft into the simple, soulful hope of “O-o-h Child.” Overall, the presentation feels more impulsive than calculated, inspired less by careful architecture than a basic need to share.

This may have been the impulse behind that first ’70s revival, some 20 years ago, fostered by its survivors for my generation, which was too young to remember the period as anything but a colorful lark. We were perfect sponges for all the baubles and kitsch everyone else found ghastly and stupid. We pretended to be above it, but we loved it deep down, although truthfully-if-frighteningly, the Eagles’ “One of These Nights” carries more nostalgic resonance for me than “Cherry Bomb” ever will, as the latter didn’t enter my orbit until after “Dazed and Confused” in 1993.

It’ll be interesting to see how this music’s embraced/treated by those who weren’t even alive during the ’70s’ second wave and have no sentimental attachment to it except as archaeology. What’s it like to hear Mickey Thomas’ “Fooled Around” wail, splashed in braggadocio and regret, for the first time? Can “Come and Get Your Love” or “Go All the Way” be surgically removed from its big-screen introduction and applied to specific personal memories? How many new Bowie fans will “Guardians” birth? Or is the revelation even more elementary: that these songs are just flat-out great, and they’ll be transcendent forever, perfect for any “Awesome Mix” beyond the confines of all time and space?

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Cory Frye is a news editor for the Albany Democrat-Herald. He can be reached at 541-812-6095 or cory.frye@lee.net.

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