Assorted declarations from Editor Tom Graham
Docs that Roc
I’ll be looking at some much-needed downtime in January. Although my days will be peppered with dog walks and guitar cleaning, I recently re-upped my Netflix account for one reason and one reason only: music documentaries. As a devout fan of music docs, here are some of my favorites — some of which you can still stream on Netflix. To see some others, you may have to do some searching.
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
The film tells the story of Daniel Johnston, a mentally ill singer/songwriter whose music has been recorded by Beck, Wilco, Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam. Diagnosed with manic depression complicated by delusions of grandeur, Daniel battles the illness for decades — all while achieving great musical success and trying to stay out of mental hospitals. The film weaves his remarkable story through home movies, interviews, archived music tapes and live performance footage.
I Think We’re Alone Now
I Think We’re Alone Now is a documentary that focuses on two individuals, Jeff Turner and Kelly McCormick, who claim they adore ’80s pop singer Tiffany.
Turner, a 50-year-old man with Asperger’s syndrome, lives his life as Tiffany’s greatest fan, while 35-year-old McCormick claims to have been friends with Tiffany as a teenager. She credits Tiffany as “the shining star who has motivated her to do everything in her life.” Both are considered stalkers by the media and other Tiffany fans. The doc takes a look into the strange lives of these two somewhat lost souls.
The History of the Eagles
Featuring rare archival material, concert footage and unseen home movies explore the rise, fall and return of one of America’s favorite bands.
The documentary features in-depth interviews with Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner, Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit.
Shut Up and Play the Hits
Shut Up and Play the Hits is a 2012 documentary film that follows LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy over a 48-hour period, from the day of the band’s final gig at Madison Square Garden to the morning after the show. Live performances feature Reggie Watts and Arcade Fire (the film’s title is a reference to the moment Win Butler of Arcade Fire shouts “shut up and play the hits” as Murphy introduces the song).
A complete audio recording of this concert was released in April, entitled The Long Goodbye: LCD Soundsystem Live at Madison Square Garden.
Beware of Mr. Baker
Best known for his work with Eric Clapton in Cream and Blind Faith, Ginger Baker has seen a bunch. The doc tells the story of Baker’s pattern of divorces, self-destruction and music. Chain smoking and on morphine, the 73-year-old reflects back on his life as we watch. In his own words, “God is punishing me for my past wickedness by keeping me alive and in as much pain as he can. I wasn’t planning on living this long!”
Use Your Van – Mason Jennings
Independent musician Mason Jennings brings cameras into the studio and onto the stage following the singer’s 11-month journey to bring his music to his fans. Concert performance footage features over a dozen songs including “Butterfly,” “Lonely Computer Screen,” “Fourteen Pictures” and “Killer’s Creek.”
Last Days Here
Bobby Liebling has spent more than 36 years as the lead singer of the band Pentagram. Broke and living for decades in his parents’ basement, Liebling is finally discovered by the heavy metal underground. With the help of Sean ‘Pellet’ Pelletier, his friend and manager, Bobby struggles to overcome his demons.
Glenn Tilbrook – One for the Road
This film follows a 2001 solo American tour by Glenn Tilbrook, lead singer of British new wave group Squeeze. One for the Road shows Tilbrook attempting a month-long US tour using an old mobile home instead of a tour bus and hotels. The film focuses on Tilbrook’s fantastic personality as he wows crowds and battles vehicle breakdowns. The film features Tilbrook performing “Tempted,” “Hourglass,” “Take Me I’m Yours,” “Up the Junction,” “Goodbye Girl” and “By The Light of the Cash Machine.”
Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?
The doc follows Harry Nilsson from childhood to death, chronicling the highs and lows along with him, from Grammy wins through divorce and substance abuse.
The film features original interviews Micky Dolenz, Eric Idle, Randy Newman, Yoko Ono, Paul Williams, Robin Williams, Brian Wilson and The Smothers Brothers. Also included are interviews with Nilsson’s family, including his wives and children.
Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid (Geffen Records) 2008.