Song of the Day #1,091: ‘Our Town’ – James Taylor

Cars 2 is currently in theaters and receiving the first ever negative reviews for a Pixar film. It sits in the low 30s on Rotten Tomatoes, bucking the trend of Pixar films that flirt with 100% positive reviews.

I’ll get around to seeing it and finding out for myself if the bad reviews are warranted (I’m guessing they are, based on the uninspiring trailers).

But one thing that bothers me about the reviews I’ve read is the frequent dismissal of the first Cars as Pixar’s worst film prior to this one.

While it isn’t in the same category as the Toy Story films or Brad Bird’s Pixar offerings, Cars is a bright, funny, sweet culture clash mash-up of NASCAR glitz and down-home values. In Paul Neman’s Doc Hudson, it features one of the studio’s most complex and touching characters. It also features one of the only examples of a developing romance in any Pixar film, even if the woman is a Porsche.

Finally, it features the beautiful ‘Our Town’ sequence, in which the demise of a small town of Route 66 is depicted over James Taylor’s lovely performance of another great Randy Newman song.

So fine, Cars 2 may suck, but keep your hands off the original!

Long ago
But not so very long ago
The world was different
Oh yes it was

You settled down
And you built a town
And made it there
And you watched it grow
It was your town

Time goes by
And time brings changes
You change too
Nothing comes that you can’t handle
On you go

Never see it coming
When the world caves in on you
On your town
Nothing you can do

Main Street isn’t Main Street anymore
Lights don’t shine as brightly
As they shown before
Tell the truth
The lights don’t shine at all
In our town

Sun comes up each morning
Just like its always done
Get up, go to work
Start the day

You open up for business
That’s never gonna come
As the world rolls by
A million miles away

Main Street isn’t Main Street anymore
No one seems to needs us
Like they did before
It’s hard to find a reason
Left to stay
But its our town
We love it anyway
Come what may
It’s our town

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,091: ‘Our Town’ – James Taylor

  1. Amy says:

    This was the song I was referring to the other day, the other Newman song set to a montage that makes me tear up – if not outright sob (Maddie likes to exaggerate!) – every time I hear/see it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Randy Newman perform it (I’m sure I would have remembered if I had), but it is difficult for me to imagine anyone bringing more to the delivery than my beloved James Taylor (boring? BAH!)

    As for the Cars films, I suspect many critics found the lack of humans somehow led to a lack of humanity, the ingredient so abundant in Pixar films. Whether their other films (The Incredibles, Up) focused on people, or the interaction of people and other creatures (Monsters, Wall-E, Toy Story), or focused on animals (A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo), which are allowed and expected to have human characteristics in animated films, they all explore powerfully human emotions and experiences.

    When Dana saw the trailer for the original Cars, he was skeptical. Why, he wondered, would he care what a bunch of mechanical parts were up to for a couple of hours? Today’s SOTD and scene demonstrate beautifully how Pixar managed to make audience members do just that. Is it my favorite Pixar film? No, not even close. But is it worthy of the Pixar label? Absolutely.

    I won’t comment much on the sequel, since you have yet to see it, other than to suggest that you do so. We saw it on our first night of vacation, in a theater in Gainesville. After seeing the awful reviews, our expectations were definitely lowered (and I was more than a bit intrigued to see how Pixar could have gone so wrong). Within the first two minutes (after the delightful Toy Story short, which is an added bonus), I was oohing and aaahing at the way the Pixar magicians had rendered the ocean – whatever technological toys they’ve discovered/created these past years have enabled them to eclipse the effects they created in Finding Nemo. That’s all I’ll say about the film for now, but I do think that you and the girls will enjoy it.

    And thank you for featuring “Our Town.” As we’re driving through some towns that share a lot in common with Radiator Springs, it’s a lovely reminder to stop and take a look.

  2. Amy says:

    Here is a link to the scene, for those who would like to see the montage while listening to the song:

  3. Dana says:

    This is truly a wonderful song and a wonderful scene in Cars. Indeed, I suspect that without this song and scene, Cars would have slipped even further down from the middle of the pack Pixar film that it is.

    Although I didn’t love Cars, I was drawn in by the whole premise of the town passed by (literally and figuratively) by the new highways. Although I won’t comment much about Cars 2 (as Amy has requested I not do so until you all see the film), I will simply say that no similarly compelling premise or theme can be found in the sequel. And there is no song or scene like the one Amy posted above. As Amy said, the sequel is probably worth seeing for the always wonderful animation (including the stunning opening scene), but, overall, I think the critics are on target with this one.

  4. Maddie says:

    I agree with “Dana” saying that there was no emotionally show stopping song in Cars 2. I don’t agree that Cars 2 was anything less than a fun, exciting animated film. As an aspiring animator, the entire film was so beautiful. I guess I won’t say more, but please see it. I seem to be alone in appreciating films that critics have bashed. (Pirates, Cars, and Larry Crowne being among them.)

    That being said, Cars was a bigger hit because of scenes like this, and it’s music overall.

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