Neil Young — “Philadelphia (City of Brotherly Love)”
(from Philadelphia [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]) —
At work yesterday, I got sucked into watching Jonathan Demme’s magnificent 1993 masterpiece Philadelphia, which was playing as the Sunday afternoon feature on one of the local stations. I hadn’t seen the film in at least a decade, and I was instantly captivated anew by the sheer power of Tom Hanks’ wrenching, riveting performance (which won him the first of his two Academy Awards), and by the unlikely bond that Hanks manages to forge with Denzel Washington (criminally underrated — but incontrovertibly brilliant here — in regular-Joe mode). (Also, by the by, was I taken by what a frighteningly steely bitch on wheels that sly ol’ poker-faced Mary Steenburgen can be!) Bruce Springsteen’s thrilling theme song from the film, “Streets of Philadelphia,” hogged all the attention at the time — winning the Oscar and a passel of Grammys — and perhaps deservedly so, but I have to confess (and I thought this at the time, but having just re-experienced this cinematic touchstone, I really think it now): Young’s staggeringly simple, achingly transcendent ode to love and brotherhood, which plays over the film’s credits, is haunting and astonishing, a pitch-perfect aural catharsis which wisps by like the graceful ghost of a gratefully remembered dream.