Friday, July 22, 2005

For the Bittersweet, Gabba Love of Rockin'

Yesterday I delayed this post, hoping to write something thoughtful about the 2001 rock documentary Won't Anybody Listen that I saw last weekend, (great goodies on their site BTW), but I still don't have time to describe with eloquence how sad and true, but totally worthwhile I found it based on my own history as member of an uncelebrated, striving band. Furthermore, I was forgetting that one of the best things about the web is being able to refer to the work of people who've had time to think.

This is part of Randy Lewis' review for the LAT: It paints with unyielding honesty a business in which music is often treated as an afterthought, and in which the players rarely know just how heavily the deck is stacked against them. Kelemer began filming the Rogalas' band, Anaheim-based NC-17, with the simple goal of producing a concert tape to sell to fans. As he monitored their progress, he watched (and kept filming) as their career path took one harsh twist after another, down a sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes stabbingly funny, ultimately disillusioning road that leads to riches and glory for a select few.

From the TV Guide review: The beauty of Kelemer's choice of subject — probably accidental, since he befriended the band while he was still in high school, but propitious nonetheless — is their fundamental ordinariness. They're talented, but not phenomenally so. Their music is easily categorized without being completely generic. They're dedicated musicians who'd like to be successful — not rock star rich, just able to quit their day jobs, which range from legal assistant to boiler repairman. No one's a crash-and-burn junkie, and for all the inevitable friction between band members, there isn't a flaming jerk in the bunch. Over the course of the film they get some solid breaks, every one of which evaporates. And yet with the exception of Perron, who has a crisis of faith and goes home to Colorado, the band plays on.

Some might find it depressing, and I'll admit I was afraid I would, but I was too fascinated to look away. In return, I got confirmation of my worst fears, but also recollections of some fantastic times, and a renewed feeling of solidarity with all those who live to rock.

Speaking of borrowing brilliance, here's Bummer Girls' poignant and lovely tribute to growing up, rocking out, and finding yourself within the insane joy of the Ramones. Read the whole thing. I excerpt freely to tempt you:

The Ramones were the soundtrack of my emergence from dorky bookworm to....a pot smoking dork who actually had friends. Up until that time I had only and solely been my much more popular and cute sister's fat and unattractive older sister. Mike and Nick and Jim and Jeff and Gina and Kim and Shelley. ...we'd all sit around in Mike's basement talking, playing "power hitter in the dark" and listening to the Ramones, or the Talking Heads or the Jam or Iggy...I found who I was, somewhat, in Mike's basement. Funny what a little acceptance will do for a girl...

Gabba Gabba we accept you, we accept you, one of us

1 comment:

April said...


4 guys from Queens. Who'd a thunk it?