Thursday, February 12th, 2004
Just An American Boy
I picked up the DVD of Just An American Boy a couple nights ago and sat down to watch it last night. It’s a documentary of sorts that follows Steve Earle on tour through 2002 and 2003, in the wake of the release of his album Jerusalem which featured “John Walker’s Blues”, a song which told the tale of American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh from Lindh’s point of view. The controversy that followed Earle over that song, which had certain factions in the US declaring him un-American, unpatriotic and other nice adjectives, actually doesn’t figure into the film much at all – there are a few soundbites and media clips, but it’s not the primary theme. In fact, there’s not really a primary theme – lots of different aspects of Earle’s life are featured, but none particularly in-depth. His work with anti-death penalty activists, his work as a playwright, his time as a drug addict and convict (funniest moment was him chastising one of the Dukes for speeding – “You do not want to get stopped in Nashville with me in the car”), and his musical roots.
The concert footage is decent if a bit rudimentary – often times, it’s just two handheld side-of-stage digital cameras edited together. The performances are very good, though. Surprisingly, the political content seems incidental – you get a much better feel for what’s on the man’s mind from the companion double live CDs. The monologues hang together a lot better. And you get to see Earle eat. A lot. It’s worth noting that after seeing himself onscreen, Earle went on the Atkins diet and lost 55 lbs to bring his girth down to a svelte 165. Important? Of course not, but it’s worth noting that he’s currently unrecognizable compared to the man you see in the film. Shaved, too. All in all, I was a little disappointed. I had hoped for more meat, more substance. Poe doesn’t make much effort to steer the content of the film or debate any points, he’s more of a fly on the wall. The music is great, obviously, but I was expecting more documentary and less concert video. Earle certainly has a lot to say, it’d be nice if someone asked him.
Billboard talks to Sarah Harmer on the occasion of the release of All Of Our Names, her second proper solo record, out March 9.
Paul Westerberg is soliciting opinions from the faithful about how he should tour his next record, Folker. Band? Solo? With whom as support? What songs? First person to suggest Chris Mars and Tom Stinson as a backing band will get a swift boot to the head. Either way – hooray for being part of the process. From Hold My Life.
Hey Conan – why’d you have to do your walking tour of Toronto on the snowiest day of the year? So much for any trickle-down jump in tourism dollars. Hell, after seeing that I don’t want to be here anymore. Nice bit with the mud wrestling towers, though. And no, I did not stay up for Nickelback.
np – Pavement / Wowee Zowee