Music Movies for This Weekend
I watch them all so you don't have to
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Unlike the main channel, this one is strictly on one topic:
Which of the hundreds of music documentaries are actually worth your time?
Why This Channel?
The standard advice for writers is “stick to one genre.” Well, I don’t do that, as you’ve probably noticed. But it did occur to me that this particular idea does. I was thinking of making it a separate channel, but I discovered this “section” thing on Substack.
If you’re on one or more streaming services, you’re probably sick of their standard or “recommended” movies. You know they have thousands, but how do you find one worth watching?
I’ve been watching all those biopics (as they call a music biography) for years, or actually, I thought I was watching them all. A little searching turned up more than 100 and I’ve only seen a fraction of those. Virtually any musical artist you like has a movie about him or her, and so do producers, songwriters, studio musician teams, and almost everyone else in the business.
Some of the movies are garbage. Some will make your weekend. I tell you which are which.
Which Movies, and Why?
I’m an unreconstructed Baby Boomer. I will not be doing any rap, hip-hop, or modern formulaic crap. Enough said.
My focus is the great river of American pop music: jazz, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, folk, bluegrass, and country. No rap. No machine-made pop music whose purpose is to blend into the background. As far as I know, none of the artists here use AutoTune (but do tell me if you catch one).
Most of the movies are free. There are some you may have to pay for. There’s one (Tom Dowd & The Language of Music) that you can’t even find, legally. It’s not because they want to charge for it; it’s because no one wants to watch it. Except you and I. You can probably figure out how to Torrent it, but I’m not going to explain how, since that would be illegal. Heh, heh. Someone did it and sent me a pointer, so I do have the movie.
I also will not have “concert movies,” i.e. movies that are almost nothing but a concert. Woodstock, Monterey Pop, The Last Waltz, and Stop Making Sense are all great movies, but this isn’t MTV.
There are some biopics where Hollywood has a big-name actor as the star, e.g. Coal Miner’s Daughter, Ray, and Walk the Line. These are usually not free, but they have pretty high production values and might be worth your time. I will do some of those.
What Do You Get?
If the movie is free, I give a link to it. I don’t have all the streaming services, so the movie might well be on Netflix, HBO, Hulu, or some other service and I wouldn’t know.
Sometimes I will tell you to skip a movie. Knowing what not to watch is as valuable as knowing what to watch.
I also provide a YouTube playlist of the songs mentioned. Often the movie has just a snippet of a great song, but YouTube has it all. After you watch the movie, you can listen to all the songs in their entirety.
Ideally, I’d send out one movie every Friday. I have five or six already written. However, that inventory will disappear pretty quickly. I’d like to keep to a weekly schedule, but I’m not promising.
A Note on Kanopy
If you don’t know about Kanopy, you should. All you need is a public library card, and you can join. All their movies are free, including films you’d otherwise have to pay for.
Unfortunately, my Kanopy won’t be the same as yours, probably, so I don’t give links. You’ll see whatever movies your own library has access to.
Be Like Ernie
Ernie’s a happy dog because he gets to listen to all this great music. Be like Ernie. Be happy.