Monday, February 11, 2008

Across the Universe... and beyond my ken

So many people LOVED this movie, I feel a bit of a compulsion to give my own review. I had three problems with it.

1. I generally don't like it when musicians cover other musicians' songs. Once in a great while, the new version has something to recommend or differentiate it from the original, but mostly not. I definitely *hate* it when poseurs or, gawd forfend, orchestrators cover heartfelt music, e.g. blues, r&b, rock. The reworking/overworking of the Beatles' tunes for this movie sucked.

2. I hate Broadway show tunes and the desperate over-orchestration that goes along with them. Not to mention the over-affected vocalizations and strained phrasing; but that's my third item. The changed tempos, changed melodies, and distasteful orchestrations sucked.

3. I hate hearing people with no heart and too many voice lessons singing heartfelt music. The main singers all well and truly sucked. Big time sucked. Hot-needle-through-the-eyeball suckage.

Joe Cocker was fun. Salma Hayek was, as always, a true hottie.

There's an old, probably apocryphal, story about someone asking one of the old delta blues guys if anybody in their group could actually read music. The answer goes: Yeah, some of them boys can read music; but it don't hurt their playin' none.

Everybody involved with this movie can no doubt read the shit out of a musical score and probably talk all night about music theory and all sorts of other music-related intellectual shit. I'm sure they all been singin' since they's babies and got work before they're two. [Identify the rock allusion and win a prize.] More voice lessons among that group than you can shake a stick at. It's musical as all get-out, I'm sure - intellectual, abstract, sophisticated, orchestrated music; but it ain't from the heart. And that means it ain't rock-n-roll.

If it ain't rock-n-roll, it ain't shit.


  1. I can very much relate to your comments regarding cover versions for the sake of cover versions. Passion equals Rock and Roll. That combined with the fact that I never did (for shame) get into The Beatles means I have no plans to see this movie. However, although I usually run the other way when the masses rally behind a phenomenon, seeing certain friends give this film such kudos has me mildly intrigued at least.

  2. And perhaps the specific, important difference is that I basically lived that movie and heard all those songs in their original intensity when they first came out and played many of them in nasty, smoke-filled French Quarter bars or at elegant school formals in "12-man" (union-specified minimum number of musicians for the room) hotel ballrooms, while class, and philosophical, warfare raged in the streets.

    Emasculating that music by turning it into showtunes with big orchestral productions and voice-school nonentities warbling an inaccurate melody like they really wanna be doing Gilbert and Sullivan, or Cats, or some shit like that, is incredibly painful to my ears and my heart.

    For younger people, maybe it's merely historically interesting and the songs sound just fine, like my dad's vs. my apprehension when listening to variants of "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy."

    Beat me, daddy, eight to the bar! Solid, Jackson!

  3. I think this means you're not on the bus, Frank.

    So what else is new, right?


  4. I would rather sit on this cornflake forever than see that movie!

  5. Does that mean if it is rock and roll it is shit? Just wondering...

  6. Hi, Steph. What's shaking?

    I answered Schuyler's question on her blog. Always nice to be visited by a(nother) wag.

  7. Ronnie, if it's that bus driven by Bono (not Cher's former hubby, the other one), I am *definitely* not on it. He's a tool.

  8. Ok, so few people read my blog and nobody even made a stab at my rock allusion, so I'll reveal the answer here and now.

    Lovin' Spoonful - Nashville Cats (1967)

    I'll give the fuckin' prize to myself and it'll be a damned good one, too. Ha!