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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.

In addition to opening for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Opera House February 27, TV On The Radio play their own show at the Horseshoe April 14.

The Constantines and NYC’s Seattle’s Pretty Girls Make Graves play the Phoenix March 31. Tickets $13.50. There’s gonna be a lot of jumping around at this show, yessirree.

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

By : Frank Yang at 9:53 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. sam says:

    at least michael j fox was fun. and scott thompson!!! wow. i was happy then :)

    the shows so far have been kinda cute, but they’re always dangerously teetering on the brink of being incredibly stereotypical, don’t they?

  2. Five Seventeen says:

    I stayed up to watch a bit of Conan. It was nice/weird to see Michael J Fox, but what was going on with the audience?

    A bit of news about the Simpsons http://…/

    I’m still waiting fort a Calvin and Hobbes movie, though. http://…/

  3. Paul says:

    Pssst…PGMG is from Seattle.

  4. Frank says:

    Duly noted. I assume everyone is from NYC these days.

  5. graig says:

    yeah, I didn’t stay up for Nickleback either. Unfortunately I had to see them live…

    Being in the audience was weird. I totally had to resist the damn annoying mob mentality of lauging and clapping at every lame joke or *obvious* Canadian-applause-generating reference.

  6. Paul says:

    Why resist? Being from the South, I generally find all stereotypes about toothless, inbred Southerners quite funny.

    Maybe because I know the South isn’t really like that.

  7. DGJ says:

    On the topic of controversial music and videos, I’m curious about what you think about some of the stuff at <a href="http://…/ Art</strong></a>. Particularly DJ <strong>Danger Mouse</strong>’s <a href="http://…/ Grey Album</em></a>. Remember way back when sampling was the big threat to artists?

    <strong>Haynes</strong>’ <em>"Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story"</em> is a classic, one I originally saw teamed up with some 1950’s Barbie tv commercials. Brrr…

  8. DGJ says:

    Next time I lay off the bolds and italics.

  9. mike says:

    Franklin my friend you have far too much time on your hands. I’ve just read all you’ve written since 2002 (who says I don’t stay in touch, it beats doing homework). 3:30 now, starting to get tired, on a high though. Good news about Joey. He responded today..ask Kyle for details.