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Okay, so we all watched that insane dogshit alternate ending to Titanic that's been making the rounds online today. And while we can all agree James Cameron made the right choice, some of us heard something surprising, familiar, and as beautiful as the Heart of the Ocean itself. Dog’s Eye View’s 1995 classic “Everything Falls Apart” plays over shots of Bill Paxton and his crew kicking back on the deck of their research vessel. It's a nice reminder of the glory days of alternative radio, and even though it’s a song about being young and drunk and self-destructive, it works, because it is a jam, and also because it comes in before things go really off the rails.
Dog’s Eye View was a project of New York singer/songwriter Peter Stuart, who after a second album and a truly great solo debut Propeller, left the music business, got his Master’s degree in clinical psychology, and now works as a therapist in Austin, TX, helping people with problems including but not limited to “identifying strongly with the lyrics of ‘Everything Falls Apart.’” (He and his family are snowed in but doing fine.)
Stuart is an old friend of mine, and an absolute-best-case scenario for post-rock-star life. He’s much happier, healthier and more serene than in the Dog’s Eye View days. When I saw the alternate Titanic ending, I assumed he was already aware his biggest hit was almost in one of the biggest movies of all time. I figured that it had never come up because just barely missing out on appearing on a soundtrack that sold thirty million copies would be a difficult subject to address. I just thought he knew.
This afternoon, I got two texts in a row from Peter Stuart. One with the YouTube link to the alternate ending, and one with the single word “Um.” He didn’t know.
I reached Peter via FaceTime immediately afterwards to get his reaction, and to see if that old lady’s dumb monologue about only life being priceless is really true. Our conversation is lightly edited for clarity and long stretches of incredulous head-shaking.
Esquire: Peter Stuart.
Peter Stuart: What’s happening?
Well, you tell me what’s happening. How did you get the alternate ending?
Okay, so I missed a text chain between a dear friend of ours and my wife and me, in which there was talk of oh, there’s some bizarro alternate ending to Titanic. And I missed everything else except the link to the video. So later, I’m just watching this random ending to Titanic, trying to remember how Titanic ends, because I’d forgotten— I mean, I know what happened to the boat— and then it’s my song. I thought: What the fuck? I said to my wife “Have you seen this?” And she said “Yes, your song is in it, that’s what we were talking about.” I missed that part. I missed the part that said: and Peter, your song is in it.
My first thought was “Why did my friend lay ‘Everything Falls Apart’ into this alternate ending to Titanic?” I thought somebody was fucking with me. I thought, well, that’s…funny.
I still haven’t finished the alternate ending, because I was too overwhelmed by what the fuck why is my song in there.
Oh, so you haven’t seen the part where Bill Paxton and Gloria Stuart just sing your song to each other real loud?
Okay. I mean, right now, it’s at that level where I think a couple of friends are going to pop out from somewhere, like “Why would you think your song would be in Titanic? What planet are you on?”
So you’re watching, you don’t see it coming…
Not at all.
Talk me through your emotional journey.
Again, my first thought is that I’m being fucked with and someone dubbed it in. But then it was: oh! There’s a world in which I had a major place in the ending of Titanic. The song is in there, which means James Cameron heard it at least a few times as he edited the scene. And then I immediately flashed to: what would that have done? It wouldn’t have been “My Heart Will Go On,” but what happens if your song is in that movie that sells that many soundtracks? Financially, huge difference. Culturally, I would have been involved in this massive thing in some peripheral way. It’s a really weird Sliding Doors moment, you know? Like, this could have happened.
How deep into the theoretical math have you gone?
I haven’t gone very deep into it.
That way lies madness probably, right?
Yeah. I’ve had this experience before, just as a sidetrack. In 1996 or ’97, I got a call that they wanted to use 15 seconds of the song for the intro to the show Spin City. They told me, “Yeah, it’ll be $8,000 a week every time the show runs for the rest of the time the show runs, continuing into reruns and syndication.” And…I bought a pool in my head. I greatly expanded my house. And then they came back a week later and said “So, actually, $400 a week for twelve weeks.” So I’ve been into the theoretical math.
But on a realistic level, apparently it’s on a DVD that I didn’t know about, so there may be ten to twelve dollars sitting out there for me. I can get a float for the pool, you know what I mean?
But it’s crazy. It’s a weird bomb to have a piece of your past just drop right into your present.
For me, watching it this morning, I was like: surely he must have known at the time. He must have been approached about the rights, and it just never came up between us, which I would understand, because if it had almost happened and didn’t, that would maybe be a sore subject.
It’s an interesting thing. You know the legend about Say Anything…, and how John Cusack fought really hard for that “In Your Eyes” moment with the boombox to be a Fishbone song. There’s a whole world of the temp tracks that never made the movie and what that would have done for the artists. But for me, no, I never knew.
Now, we have to address this: if it had stayed in, that part of that alternate ending would have been great. But the rest of that alternate ending is…insane.
I literally stopped after the song because I was so confused by what was happening. I have to go back and watch the rest.
Well, the old woman raps.
You and your deadpan, God dammit.
But it’s a much less satisfying ending than the ending they went with. So the song could have been a part of a huge cultural thing, but it also could have been a part of a big cultural thing that people hated.
Right! It could have been a part of something that killed the emotional core of the movie. What a legacy: I ruined Titanic. Amazing.
But I love it. It’s fun when things bubble up in weird little ways. It happens rarely enough that it’s kind of fun.
Okay, so it is fun for you, then.
And not frustrating and awful.
God, no. There’s no part of me that’s “If only that had happened, everything would be different!” I don't have that thing.
Okay, you haven't watched the rest of the ending, but Gloria Stuart says to Bill Paxton: "Only life is priceless, and making each day count." So...true? False? Your thoughts?
I mean, not the deepest or most original thought, but yes, of course.
Everything is good for you.
Yeah. Everything is great! But it is very weird. And I’m still not sure it’s not a joke.
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