Tuesday, September 14th, 2004
Be Here To Love Me
Film number two in my TIFF itinerary was the world premiere of Margaret Brown’s Be Here To Love Me, a documentary about the late Austin singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Over five years in the making, the doc compiles archival television and home video footage of the performer, taped telephone interviews and stories and recollections from friends and relatives to paint a portrait of the artist as young man who died too soon at age 52, yet lasted far longer than many expected. It presents Townes as a charming, easygoing man who writes heartbreakingly beautiful songs while being a lifelong substance abuser (there are yearbook photos of him sniffing glue) who seemed to know he wasn’t long for this world, yet never painting him as a tragic figure. In fact, it doesn’t take any particular angle on his story, playing it very straight and displays a great affection for the man and his work. The overall impression you get from the film is that he was greatly beloved by all who knew him and probably harmed no one, save himself, and even there he doesn’t come off as self-destructive – the drugs and the drink were just part of who he was. I had only a passing knowledge of Townes van Zandt’s work going into this film, mostly from having heard a handful of his better known songs and from Steve Earle’s adoration of the man. Obviously I will need to seek out more of his music.
Meaningless observations from the screening – being the world premiere, much of the production crew were in attendance at the screening, and many of them were attractive young women. Maybe I should go into documentary filmmaking? And in the film’s closing credits, Scottish noiseniks Mogwai are listed in the ‘Thank You’ section. Mogwai. I’d love to know what that’s about.
I went out at lunch yesterday and got a copy of the Arcade Fire record. You’ve no doubt be heard lots and lots of praise for this album over the last little while and will no doubt be hearing more and more in the weeks and months to come – it will certainly be making any number of year-end lists. So maybe you’re wondering if all the hype is justified, if it’s the bee’s knees or case of the over-excitable blogosphere falling for the emperor’s new clothes? I will admit, the individual tracks I’d heard over the past couple months from various sources had me intrigued but not sold. I tend to be pretty cynical when the buzz begins to snowball – just my way of staying fashionably unfashionable. But taken as a whole album, Funeral is pretty damn remarkable. The last album I remember being so much more than the sum of its parts was Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. It’s impassioned, baroque, modern, powerful, delicate, brutal and beautiful – sometimes all in the same song – but never sounds affected or pretentious. To hell with Franz Ferdinand, THIS is the debut album of the year. I mean, I’ve had it for less than a day and I’ve already listened to it four or five times. I almost NEVER repeat-play a new record, but this one has completely jumped the queue – it’s just that compelling. And it has some of the loveliest packaging I’ve seen in ages. I’m now really really looking forward to the October 1 show at Lee’s Palace – chalk me up in the ‘believers’ column.
Bradley’s Almanac reports that Rilo Kiley are touring with a 10-piece orchestra. The joys of a major label touring budget! But I’m wondering if they’ve seen the size of the Horseshoe stage… methinks they’ll have to stack the string section on October 3 to make them all fit. This should be glorious.
np – Arcade Fire / Funeral