Music Video Of The Day: God’s Gonna Cut You Down (2006, dir by Tony Kaye)

This is a case where I like the song more than the music video.  This video was actually filmed three years after Johnny Cash’s death.  As far as “official” music videos are concerned, I always feel like a musician should have some sort of say into how their music is visually interpreted.  Obviously, Johnny Cash wasn’t around to have anything to say about the video for God’s Gonna Cut You Down.

Since Cash wasn’t available, director Tony Kaye filled the video with cameos from other actors and musicians, a few of whom (though not many) were previous Cash collaborators.  Among the celebs who make an appearance in this video: David Allan Coe, Patricia Arquette, Travis Barker, Peter Blake, Bono, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Depp, the Dixie Chicks, Flea, Billy Gibbons, Whoopi Goldberg, Woody Harrelson, Dennis Hopper, Terrence Howard, Jay-Z, Mick Jones, Kid Rock, Anthony Kiedis, Kris Kristofferson, Amy Lee, Adam Levine, Shelby Lynne, Chris Martin, Kate Moss, Graham Nash, Busy Philipps, Iggy Pop, Lisa Marie Presley, Q-Tip, Corinne Bailey Rae, Keith Richards, Chris Rock, Rick Rubin, Patti Smith, Sharon Stone, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Brian Wilson, and Owen Wilson.  Some of the celebs — like Dennis Hopper and Kris Kristofferson — seem like they naturally belong there.  Others seem so out-of-place that you’ll want to throw something.  You know how that works,

God’s Gonna Cut You Down is a traditional folk song.  I’ve heard countless versions of it.  I prefer Cash’s version to the more traditional gospel arrangement but, then again, I tend to find gospel music to be dull in general.  Cash’s arrangement brought new life to an old song.


A Movie A Day #62: Rude Boy (1980, directed by Jack Hazan and David Mingay)

rude_boy_filmLondon.  1980.  Ray (Ray Gange) is an alcoholic who lives in a council block, one that is decorated by the type of racist graffiti that, years later, is still a distressingly common site in London.  Ray spends his days working at a Soho sex shop and his nights drinking.  One night, at the pub, he drunkenly shares his opinion that politics is all “bollocks.”  The man that Ray is talking to is Joe Strummer of The Clash.  Soon, Ray (whose sympathies make him a natural supporter of the National Front) is a roadie for punk rock’s most prominent socialists.  “I’m watching you!” Mick Jones snarls at Ray.  At another point, he yells at Ray to “Get off the fucking stage!” during a show.  The perpetually drunk Ray struggles with even the slightest of duties but he loves The Clash, even though they seem to hate him.

Rude Boy is an odd one and, watching it, it’s not surprising to learn The Clash subsequently disavowed the movie.  Whenever The Clash are off-stage, they simply do not come across well.  For a proponent of world revolution, Mick Jones seems a little too comfortable with his role as a decadent rock star.  Joe Strummer, one of the most incendiary political lyricists of all time, struggles to articulate his views whenever he’s not performing and is often reduced to mumbling clichés about the people’s struggle.  Fortunately, the majority of Rude Boy is taken up by footage of The Clash performing, whether in the studio recording Give ‘Em Enough Rope or on tour or at a Rock Against Racism concert.  The footage of The Clash performing is never less than amazing, though it is easy to see what Johnny Lydon meant when he complained that The Clash were so high energy and undisciplined that they always burned themselves out three or four songs into a show.

As for the rest of the movie, it was largely improvised, with only a few scripted scenes.  While I think Rude Boy would have made a stronger statement if it had just been a straight concert film, its documentary style does capture the bleak lives of despair that inspired a thousand punk songs.  Because of Rude Boy‘s uneven structure, the life of Ray the Roadie may not seem to add up to much, especially when compared to everything else going on around him.

Maybe that was the point.