Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Following Our Will & Wind, We May Just Go Where No One's Been

I'm a sucker for a solid music doc. I'm sure no one is surprised, as the same goes for musician biographies. I like learning the stories behind the tunes. There's so much more than you can glean than from an album alone, and often these stories give the songs much more meaning. 

I dig 'em. And so I thought I'd share a few of my favourites, some notable mentions, and some that are on my radar to watch soon. I like to list great albums, so why not music movies? These lists are only for actual documentaries, not live show films. (Full disclosure - they're mainly rock docs, which should be no surprise.):

Das List

Runnin' Down a Dream - In case you couldn't tell from the title alone, this is a Tom Petty doc. And it is fantastic. I hadn't even known it existed until I saw it a few years back, and I loved every second of it. Great stories, great musical cameos.

Pearl Jam Twenty - Ok, so I watch this every few months. It's a problem I have. For Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary, they created this documentary that chronicled damn near everything. Even if you don't like Pearl Jam but you like Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Temple of the Dog, or anyone around that time - it's worth a watch. And if you don't cry when Chris Cornell cries, then you are probably a monster.

It Might Get Loud - Jimmy Page (Zeppelin), Jack White (White Stripes, Dead Weather, Raconteurs) & the Edge (U2) get together to talk music. That's the gist of it. True that I'm not much of a U2 fan (mainly due to Bono), but it's a good one to watch even so. Especially if you're a guitar player/guitar fan/wannabe shredder.

Metal: A Headbanger's Journey - The holy grail of metal documentaries. If you knew me many years ago, I used to talk about it non-stop. So... sorry 'bout that. But this movie, and the series it spawned (Metal Evolution), is so informative, so involved, and made by a major music fan - and it's also where Dio discusses where the devil horns hand gesture originated. \m/ (Spoiler - his grandmother.)

Sound City - I wrote a blog post after watching this years ago, so read that if you want a in-depth view on how much I liked it. It's about Dave Grohl, a recording studio, and the Neve recording console. It features about a bajillion great artists (some of my personal favourites, like Josh Homme, Trent Reznor, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, etc.), so that's reason enough to watch.

Dig! - This doc about Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols is nuts. Rolling Stone nailed it, saying that the film shows that "douchey self-delusion knows no bounds". Doesn't mean it's not entertaining.

My "Soon To Watch" List (aka The "I Only Have So Many Hours in a Day, Stop Judging Me" List):

Searching for Sugarman - A couple of fans search for Detroit folksinger Sixto Rodriguez. Apparently this is a kinda strange yet awesome must-see movie, so there ya go.

The Punk Singer - It's been in my Netflix queue for awhile, and I have no excuses for not seeing this yet. It's a documentary on Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna, and I have a feeling it'll bring up some rawk grrrl-type feelings, and that's fine by me.

Anvil! The Story Of Anvil - It's... um... the story of Anvil. Did I really need to elaborate on that?

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart - This one's about Wilco, and I assume it's mainly about their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which is home to one of my favourite tunes, Radio Cure.

American Hardcore:  Based on the punk/ hardcore music scene in the late 70's - mid 80's. Oh hi, Henry Rollins.

Meeting People is Easy- What? A documentary about Radiohead that I haven't seen yet? Look, I already asked you not to judge me. It's on the list. Leave me alone.

Lemmy - Pretty sure if you don't know who Lemmy is by name alone, you likely shouldn't be watching this film. (See also: Motörhead: Live Fast, Die Old).

Don't Look Back - this one's for Bob Dylan fans. So watch it... if you're a bob Dylan fan.

Notable Mentions:

The Song Remains The Same - I said I wasn't counting live performance movies, but this Led Zeppelin flick is technically not a documentary and it's not just live footage. It's also strange fantasy storylines for each member. If I recall correctly, there may have been a unicorn at some point. Unicorns are cool 'n stuff.

Mistaken for Strangers: While it's a documentary about The National, it's mostly about family, and Matt Berninger's brother. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Blood Into Wine - A movie about Maynard James Keenan (of Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer) and his foray into wine-making. So it isn't a music documentary, but it's still awesome. Mind you, I love Maynard. So there's a bias there. But Maynard and wine are a solid combo.

The Devil And Daniel Johnston - I saw this so long ago that I can't remember most of it. I knew it deserved a mention, but due to my memory blocking out certain periods of my life, I can't say much else about it except that it's a classic to the music-folk.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster - Watching this made me kinda dislike the band members (and I already disliked Lars Ulrich), but I suppose it's worth a watch for any fan, either hardcore or peripheral. I watched it once and will likely not ever watch again, but hey - that's just me.


So there you  have it. Three lists of music documentaries that you just might wanna see. Since the peanut gallery always enjoys telling me what I've missed (and I do know that I have some glaring omissions here), go ahead and let me know what else you'd add. And yes - this likely means I'll be making future lists of non-documentary type music movies, and music biographies. Geek-tastic.

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