Light of the Stereo

Light of the Stereo

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"Seven Day Forecast" with Blue Skies For Black Hearts - The List: Awesome Music Movies

As a recording engineer whose main hobby is writing songs and playing in a band, I spend a lot of days immersed in music. I wind down by watching TV. I gravitate to the movies and shows that involve good music. This isn't a definitive's a few that I've been watching that are a little off the beaten path. - Pat Kearns

10) Cisco Pike (1972) - Kris Kristofferson plays a fresh out of jail songwriter gone drug dealer trying to get back to being a songwriter. Gene Hackman is the corrupt cop who gets him to go back to dealing. Sounds good to start, right? Plus, Doug Sahm appears in the studio, apparently on some sort of stimulant. Worth it just for the cameo.

9) The Secret To A Happy Ending (2009) - This film about the Drive-By Truckers documents that it may sometimes hurt, but you should always follow your heart. Because of this movie, I became a fan of the band. That's a good movie. You actually get a sense of how this band works together. And you want to root for them and be on their side.

8) Rockers (1978) - This is a classic Jamaican film, the next one down the hill from The Harder They Come. I love the scenes from the famous Harry J Studios. The language is thick, but it gives the movie incredible vibe. The story is good, but this one is so full of eye candy that you can put it on and tune in when you want. Plus Burning Spear is in it.

7) Captain Beefheart Under Review (2006) - When I need to reset, there' s nothing like Beefheart. This British doc takes an analytical view of Captain Beefheart's entire music career. It's filled with insightful interviews and obscure footage. The early footage of The Magic Band playing on the beach in Cannes, France, is mind blowing.

6) Human Highway (1982) - Neil Young, Devo, and Dennis Hopper. I was amazed when I found out that this happened. And I was even more amazed after I saw it. This is Neil Young at his self indulgent best....making a movie! And it gets weird, even more weird than you can imagine.

5 & 4) Play On, John: A Life In Music (2009) - This is a Smithsonian doc on John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers, a major player and musicologist on the American folk scene since the early 1960's. Oh, and John Cohen also makes amazing films about music. He might even be a better film maker than he is a musician. See his film, The High Lonesome Sound (1962) for further proof.

3) Color Me Obsessed (2011) - This may be the best music documentary I have ever seen...and there is no music by The Replacements in the documentary...and nobody in the band was interviewed either! I saw it in a theater. It was a special showing of an early cut arranged by Jackpot Records in Portland. I talked my wife, who was not a Replacements fan at all, into going with me. The movie goes chronologically by album and features fans telling stories about the band and their music and what it meant to them. After we got home, we listened to their first five records back to back - my wife's idea. Remember what I said about a good music movies? We also drank a lot of red wine.

2) Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) - No, not obscure, but this one is different. This is the beat side of being a musician...and I don't mean "Howl" beat. This is the down side: the creative struggle, the missed connection with the audience, the failed audition, the foot in mouth. I don't know what it was about this movie that got me, but it sunk it's claws deep in me. There's not a lot of action. It's melancholy. It's depressing to watch someone that's in one of the most important musical places and times, 1961 Greenwich Village, and they're missing the opportunity to become a great artist and a self-actualized soul because of negative energy and self sabotage. I feel the Coen brothers warning...but I also wonder if there's no hope and that it all lies in fate. I constantly thought about this movie for weeks after seeing it. It haunts me.

1) The American Astronaut (2005) - Directed by and starring Cory McAbee of The Billy Nayer Show, I came across this gem by accident. And, man, I love it! It mashes up science fiction, film noir and propaganda films all into it's own, unique low budget package. Plus, I had the extra bonus of seeing my old friend Mike Silverman (That One Guy) show up in the space bar scene. There's Rock & Roll and's actually a real musical! There's a related short film series that's even more bizarre. Totally worth the time to track down.

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