My series, New Year; New Types of Friends continues with examples of friendships in the movies. In my last post, I wrote about having friends who loved to have fun, like the two buddies in Wayne’s World. This next example of the types of friends every man needs also comes from a Saturday Night Live skit that turned into a popular movie. The Blues Brothers were “on a mission from God” which is a great metaphor for how godly men – what I call GodBuddies, live their lives. Additionally, the real-life relationship between the movie’s two main actors shows us another important characteristic of great friendships: carrying on your friend’s legacy.
About The Blues Brothers
The Blues Brothers is a 1980 American musical comedy directed by John Landis. It stars John Belushi as “Joliet” Jake Blues and Dan Aykroyd as his blood brother, Elwood. The film, based on the screenplay written by Aykroyd and Landis, is set in and around Chicago, Illinois, where it was also filmed.
The story is a tale of redemption. Upon his release from prison, Jake Blues, and his brother, Elwood, are on “a mission from God” to prevent the foreclosure of the Roman Catholic orphanage in which they were raised. To save the orphanage, they must reunite their R&B band and earn the $5,000 needed to pay the property tax bill. Along the way, the police relentlessly pursue the brothers, who also encounter other characters throughout their journey.
Released in the United States on June 20, 1980, the film received mostly positive reviews from critics and grossed over $115 million in theaters worldwide before its release on home video, and has become a cult classic over the years. In 2020, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” A sequel, Blues Brothers 2000, was released in 1998 but was a critical and commercial failure.
About Jake and Elwood Blues
Joliet Jake (played by John Belushi) is the lead singer in The Blues Brothers Show Band and Revue. A scrappy, slightly vindictive psychopath/sociopath man-child with a heart of gold, Jake is certainly not the type of guy you want your daughter to marry. But he’d probably ditch her at the altar anyway. Jake’s favorite things in life are beer, fried chickens, R&B, Soul, Funk, and Early Rock & Roll. He sings from the heart and never looks back.
Elwood (Played by Dan Akyroyd) has a similar personality to Jake, except he is softer-spoken, more self-consciously verbose, and slightly smarter (or at least more cognizant of reality). A master blues harp player, Elwood also is different from Jake in that he has held two jobs: at the taser factory and the butane plant. Elwood is also a genius driver, but Jake often chastises him for his overenthusiasm, calling him “Motorhead” and “Hot-rodder.” It seems like Elwood’s cool demeanor was the perfect complement to Jake’s crazy antics.
“We’re on a mission from God”
Though not great examples of good moral behavior in society, Jake and Elwood Blues had a holy mission to save the orphanage. Over and over again throughout the movie, they repeated their mantra: “we’re on a mission from God.” It became their catchphrase. The cops won’t catch us because we’re on a mission from God. The rednecks won’t hurt us because we’re on a mission from God. The lady with the rocket launcher won’t kill us because we’re on a mission from God. We can’t be stopped or even slowed down, nothing’s going to get in our way, because we’re on a mission from God.
At one dramatic point in the movie, both men get into the car at the same time, they close their doors, and there’s an effective pause in the dialogue. Aykroyd, in his deadpan style, assesses their situation rather matter of factly: “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.” To which, Belushi points to the road ahead and replies, “Hit it!”
About Belushi and Akyroyd
John Adam Belushi (January 24, 1949 – March 5, 1982) was an American comedian, actor, and musician, best known for being one of the seven original cast members of Saturday Night Live (SNL). Throughout his career, Belushi had a personal and artistic partnership with Aykroyd, whom he met while they were both working at Chicago’s Second City comedy club. Belushi died from combined intoxication of heroin and cocaine known as a speedball at the Chateau Marmont hotel in West Hollywood, California. He was posthumously honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004.
Daniel Edward Aykroyd (born July 1, 1952) is a Canadian actor, comedian, producer, musician, and writer. Also an original member of the “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” on Saturday Night Live, Aykroyd performed with Belushi in a musical sketch on SNL, which they turned into an actual performing band and the 1980 film, The Blues Brothers. Aykroyd also conceived the premise for and starred as Dr. Raymond Stantz in, Ghostbusters (1984), which spawned a sequel and eventually an entire media franchise.
A Friendship Begins
The two comedians met in a club in the early 1970s, with Aykroyd introducing Belushi to the greatness of blues music. From that meeting bloomed a comedic partnership that led the pair to become two of the original cast members of “Saturday Night Live” and to create what would become one of the most successful skits on “SNL” – The Blues Brothers, which also became a successful film.
Aykroyd is very grounded and avoided the drug scene. Belushi was the complete opposite, with drug-induced rages causing multiple problems on the SNL set. Despite these differences, Akyroyd continues to speak only fondly of John Belushi nearly 40 years after his death, carrying on the legacy of The Blues Brothers the two cooked up all those years ago.
Continuing a Legacy
It seemed like the comedy act was done after John Belushi’s death in 1982. But a 1998 sequel, Blues Brothers 2000 featuring John Goodman as Belushi’s replacement, revived Belushi’s legacy. Since then, both John Goodman and John’s younger brother, Jim, have joined Aykroyd to continue the famous music duo with Jim Belushi as the mainstay. They perform as Blues Brothers for various types of events, mostly for charity.
In 2017, Jim Belushi and Dan Akroyd performed outside the U.S. Capitol for an Independence Day musical show doing the famous hit “Soul Man,” the 1967 original song first made popular by the due Samuel Moore and David Prater, more popularly known as “Sam & Dave.” In 2019, Jim Belushi and Dan Akroyd reunited again to pay tribute to John and raise money for Jim Belushi’s marijuana farm, per Yahoo News. The two have remained very close friends even though they’re not in the spotlight as often.
But it was Akroyrd’s friendship with John Belushi that still impacts him today. On the 30th anniversary of John‘s death, Aykroyd spoke about his close friend, “What John leaves behind is his legacy of laughter and fun. He was my brother.”
Aykroyd said he misses Belushi each time he pays a visit to the House of Blues, the music-and-restaurant chain he founded. Aykroyd said: ‘I think about him every damn time I walk into a House of Blues. I think, ‘Why aren’t you here, man, to enjoy all this?’”
Like “Joliet Jake” and Elwood Blues, GodBuddies are also on a mission from God. They also carry on the legacy of people who have impacted us throughout our life.
The Bible calls each of us to continue God’s ministry of reconciliation through the power of the Holy Spirit by becoming ambassadors for Christ. This means we live with God’s bigger purpose in mind by becoming brothers and sisters in Christ, who carry on Jesus’s message of love and grace in the world. This is our mission.
Living with an eternal mindset is like being on a mission from God. It also builds a reputation that others will want to follow or emulate.
We have all been impacted by someone earlier in our life. This could be a brother, close friend, parent, or mentor. Such is the case for my dear friend, Chris Davolos to whom I dedicate this blog. So while you may carry forward someone’s legacy, are you also living a godly life that builds a legacy? Will someone carry on your mission once you are gone from this earth? If not, talk with your GodBuddy about how to begin living as if you are on a mission from God.
My next post features characters from this summer’s hottest movie.