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May 2007 Archives

May 5, 2007

The Devil & Daniel Johnston

If you haven't already joined the cult of singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston, you just might after watching this documentary. Though not widely known to the general public, the extremely influential Johnston has had his songs covered by Tom Waits, Beck, and Pearl Jam just to name a few. The film itself would probably not come about but due to the meticulous documentation of his own life through video and homemade cassette tape diaries. Oh and by the way, Johnston is manic depressive. A large part of the film is devoted to his illness and Johnston's ability to keep battling back to find his muse. But at the end of the day, are we celebrating the mental anguish that fuels Johnston's art or are we celebrating the art itself? You be the judge.

May 10, 2007

The U.S. vs. John Lennon

Don't look for anything groundbreaking in this documentary now out on dvd. It's been known for quite a while now through the FOI Act, that Lennon was a target of the Nixon administration due to his political activities. The film details the atmospherics and circumstances surrounding Lennon's and Yoko Ono's deportation proceedings in New York. Not a lot is revealed here that we don't already know. Yoko perhaps unintentionally is portrayed as little more than an elaborate armpiece for Lennon through archival clips rather than the great muse and the woman "who broke up the Beatles". Commentary is provided by the players of that era as well as by some individuals not even remotely associated with Lennon or his political activities. G. Gordon Liddy unbelievably comes across as a half way respectable figure as an apologist for the criminality and excesses of the Nixon regime. Go figure. Again, perhaps not the intent of the filmmaker. For Lennon fans, all is not lost. The film is soundtracked with his music.

Leonard Cohen I'm Your Fan

Now out on dvd, this gem of a film is a must see for the long term Cohen fan as well as a starting point for the newly initiated admirer of the man's work and art. The film flows chronologically through Cohen's life and career beginning with his celebrated Canadian poet days down through his songwriting and performing period and ending with his association with a Buddhist monastery. Interspersed with revealing commentary by the man himself are musical performances of his songs interpreted by a fine cast of performers. Rufus Wainwright and family provide several of the numbers. Nick Cave along with the delightful Perla Batalla give a mesmerizing rendition of "Suzanne". The Handsome Family provide a stellar cover of "Famous Blue Raincoat". The only down note if there is one in the film, is the insistence of U2's Bono to appear yet again in another documentary about a celebrated literary or musical icon extolling his "unique" brand of commentary. After all, I thought he was too busy saving the world. But in fairness, he does acquit himself quite well in a closing duet with Cohen on the latter's "Tower of Song".

May 21, 2007

The Travesty They Call the ACM Awards Show

Somebody please give me a roundhouse kick to the head and a judo chop to the solar plexus for continuing to watch this debacle of an awards show. Every year I watch, and every year I'm dissappointed. And it's not like my expectations are that high. The faces keep getting younger and younger, and the old folks put out to pasture. All except for George Strait, who I suppose is still making mucho dinero for his corporate taskmasters. Even after picking up his umpteenth award, he looked a bit uncomfortable and ill at ease in this crowd of twenty and thirty somethings. Maybe he just wanted to hit the casinos (this awards show being presented from Las Vegas). When he first started his career, George was a breath of fresh air. It's hard to have a better debut album with songs such as "Amarillo By Morning", and "Marina Del Rey". The rest of the songs on that album are all keepers too. But somewhere along the way, everything went to hell. George started singing about firemen putting out old flames and about exes living in Texas. And supposedly George (since he's not a songwriter himself) was receiving the best songs the Nashville writing establishment had to offer. I guess it's nice to have fans who require so little from you. In any event, the show must go on even as it gets further and further from its rural, Appalachian, acoustic roots. Now and then, there is a rare tip of the hat to some genuine old time trailblazer who shares nothing in common with the current crop of country artists. Probably the low point of the night occurred when Toby Keith (Hank Williams Jr. lite) jumped on stage to perform a song about a maintenance man and a high maintenance woman. He was joined onstage by a bouncing bevy of scantily clad beauties wearing hard hats. Now I like my bouncing bevy of women scantily clad, but please if this is the best you can do take me back to the good old days of "Hee Haw" and "The Dukes of Hazzard". As you have noticed, with the exception of George Strait, I haven't mentioned winners or losers or even any of the nominating categories. From my standpoint, why should we even care. For after all, the real losers are the true fans of roots and country music. But maybe the true believers aren't losers after all, we just have to look a little harder for the music we love. Our kind of music just moved to a different genre. It's called "Americana". Just go to your favorite music store and ask for it. You might get a blank stare from the clueless clerk but it's there if even in a small dimly lit corner in back of the store. Better yet, search the web. An astounding world of new music (an old) will open up to you.

May 31, 2007

The Greatest Story Ever Sold

Though the good doctor tries to limit his rantings and eagle eyed observations to musical content, this read was just too compelling not to comment on. Frank Rich, a NYT columnist, writes this devastating account of the Bush presidency with the war in Iraq being front and center. Rich describes the selling of the war, the principal players involved, and the unfolding drama. If it reads like a great tragic play, then it is due in no small part to the fact that Rich was once a drama critic. He describes a "stage managed" presidency with Cheny, Rove, Rice, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz giving direction. With public relations operatives at the helm of important government positions, "spin" and "reality" are taken to a whole new level as observed by Rich. He is particularly harsh on his brethern in the media who he deemed were too lackadaisical, uninterested, or just to close to the power brokers to do their reporting objectively. Well researched and documented. A must read.

About May 2007

This page contains all entries posted to DR. BYNUM'S SHOW in May 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.