Tuesday, July 21, 2009

the movie that goes to eleven (it's one louder)

It’s hard to convey in words your passion for something. You want to put the –est on the ends to show it’s at the top of all things awesome or great. You think you might capture how you really feel by saying very a few extra times or adding periods between words or using more than one exclamation point.

If you think that’s hard, try to capture someone else’s passion. Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth), director of It might get loud, nailed it.

Three guitar gods (and I don’t use the word lightly)—Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White—tell the story not so much of the electric guitar, as the synopsis suggests, but of their love affair with it.

Before you quibble about the selection, remember this: all three have done something extraordinary to guitar that other people had not yet done. They invented a sound—became synonymous with it. And each represents a musical era (the not-yet ghosts of guitar past, present, and future), with tomorrow looking a little tenuous. Think of all the new music you've heard recently, and try to find a virtuosic guitar performance. White has the power to bring it back.

I spent the entire hour and a half grinning from ear to ear, except when I was crying, enrapt, which happened nearly every time Page, Edge, and White jammed together on each other’s songs. You could see it in White’s eyes when one of the others was playing a song; somewhere inside his head, he’s saying, “Holy fuck! I’m watching Jimmy Page play 'In My Time of Dying' right here in this room, right in front of me, with The Edge!” But outside, he’s cool.

Composed of new and old film footage, stills, location shots, and overdubbed interviews with the three guitar legends, the movie is as interesting and intricate to watch as it is to hear. I want to believe this would hold true for everyone, but hard as I try, I can’t imagine my mother, just two years Page’s senior, tolerating this for more than a moment, nor was my daughter’s nine-year-old friend (a keyboard player) unable to control his fidgeting from boredom. But the guitarists and wannabe guitarists in my group (well, the latter would be me) felt the same as I. I caught my husband crying a few times (no feat; he cries at sappy McDonald’s commercials).

My two favorite moments in the movie were when Jack White and Jimmy Page talked about their favorite songs. Page put a Link Wray record on his turntable, and his face glowed as he listened to what so many would have found a simple rockabilly riff, but Page plunked his air-guitar along with the record like the conductor of a technical symphony, explaining how the tremelo increased with every repeat. It looked like ecstasy, and it made me feel ecstatic, too. And when White spoke of his favorite song, “Grinning in Your Face,” by Son House, which was recorded with voice and hand clapping only, you could see White was overcome from what must be a spiritual experience every time he shares that song with someone new.

Perhaps these three aren’t the greatest guitarists of all time; they’d agree. But Edge, Page, and White have mastered the six strings, often times by creating new challenges (like playing on nasty, broken down guitars), and their personalities and passion are the success of this film.

It’s honestly the Very. Very. Awesomest. Movie. Ever!!

So I came home with my life changed and wrote a rockish-blues song. This is our first band practice; my daughter's feeling her way around a lead, and I'm trying to hit the right chords and still read the fresh lyrics from a sheet taped to the microphone. Marty is perfect, as ever, and in his slippers, as ever.

video

19 comments:

  1. You've inspired me to see this if I can. Also, you all are fabulous, first practice or no!

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  2. I want to see the film too. It is wonderful to follow the path of a person of passion. Keep it up!

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  3. Great as ever. Need to see more. More I tell ya. Loved it.

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  4. I mighta lost interest a few times (mostly cause I don't play guitar) - but seeing people who still have passion for something they love after all this time was amazing. Worth seeing to watch the very things you talked about.

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  5. Wow! I absolutely loved watching this video. The passion for music in your family is obvious. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for this film, I'd love to see it!

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  6. The film sounds amazing! Going on the list now. Seeing people create art thay have a real passion for is one of the most beautiful things to witnes, for me. I love it whether I know how to do the art or not...we can recognize someone having that "greatness" (some would call it God-given gift) over someone who is extremely good, you know? It is something of a miracle to witness.

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  7. i have to see this, for jack white alone. and yay for the most very awesomest spinal tap reference.

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  8. Looking forward to seeing it, especially after your rave words!

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  9. I'll have to share this with my daughter and her boyfriend if they haven't already heard about it. BIG guitar lovers deep in the souls, it sounds like something they will love.

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  10. Sounds like an awesome trio. Gonna have to wait if they show it in any theater around here.

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  11. Oh, and cool performance, the three of you. Serena's solo is pretty awesome!

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  12. Serena's talent shines in this video! You guys are so lucky to share the same passion and be able to jam together like this. As for your writing, gosh, you make me want to see this movie and I don't even know who those three people are! But I am glad I 'know' the Millers :-) You guys are a great family!

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  13. You guys belong on the stage and there's one leaving in a minute. That's my father's old joke and I never get to use it. Sorry, but it made me laugh.

    Seriously, you're great and you've convinced me that I should see the movie.

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  14. I can't wait to see this! I heard Jack Black makes an appearance too (I hope he doesn't ruin it!)

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  15. I want to see it now too, and that's not really even my kind of thing. But passion is.

    And yeah. You guys are very. Awesomest. As ever!!

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  16. Don Anon from DallasJuly 26, 2009 at 4:42 PM

    Just love the solos...the first one was channeling the spirit of Syd Barrett and the next two had some growling Pete T feel. I loved that jam very much...oh yeah and I can NOT wait to see this movie.

    Keep on keepin' on.

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  17. I've been looking forward to seeing the movie since last months Guitar World cover story - I've been wanting a Gibson Explorer since the 80's so I can play at being the Edge in the privacy of my own home. Did you ever see "Curves, Contours & Body Horns"? It's about the Strat filled with interviews with many of the big players - made in the early 90's - great guitar porn!

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  18. I did not see that! I guess I will be scouting Ebay.

    Thanks, everybody! New post soon.

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