Perhaps the most memorable single scene in Back to the Future is Marty McFly’s rendition of Johnny B. Goode at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance (and, yes, it’s probably the most controversial too, and I’ll get on to that).
Last night, Michael J. Fox recreated the scene as a showstopping, flashbulb-popping climax to his A Funny Thing Happened On The WayCure Parkinson‘s fundraiser event. Oh man – to have seen that.
UPDATED: I’ve now found a video of the performance.
The Daily Mail have a couple of nice pictures in their report:
Now, let’s try to tidy that infamous controversy away once and for all.
If you put the Johnny B. Goode scene on now, you’ll see that by the time Marvin calls Chuck and holds up the receiver, Marty’s all but done. There’s no way Chuck gets to hear either the riff or lyrics that we recognise as the heart of Johnny B. Goode.
What we’re really seeing here is quite simple: Marvin recognises the spirit of Chuck’s intent and ambition in Marty’s music, and he calls his cousin up. At most, Marty will have just provided encouragement for Chuck to pursue his “new sound”, knowing that there’s somebody else out there who, loosely at least, shares his vision.
Yes, the history of popular music is dotted with white people taking the music of black people and re-appropriating it for their own gain. I don’t think Back to the Future is the endorsement of this that some have claimed.