Music Video of the Day: Love is Strong by The Rolling Stones (1994, directed by David Fincher)


Love is Strong was the first single to be released off of the Rolling Stones’s 1994 album, Voodoo Lounge.  Since everyone already knew that the Rolling Stones were giants of music, the video for Love is Strong took the idea one step further by casting the Stones as actual giants, towering over New York City.

The video was directed by David Fincher.  Having already made a name for himself as a talented music video director before even making his first feature film, Fincher did this video after directing Alien 3 but before Seven.  Fincher has said that Alien 3 was such a frustrating experience that, after completing the film, he had no desire to ever make another feature.  (Of course, he would change his mind upon reading the script for Seven.)  As this video shows, even if Fincher had stopped making movies after Alien 3, he would still be remembered and highly regarded for his music videos.

Love is Strong subsequently won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video-winning song.

Music Video Of The Day: Neighbours (1981, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg)


Imagine Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart and his broken leg replaced by Mick Jagger and the other members of the Rolling Stones and you have the concept behind the video for today’s music video of the day.

Neighbours first appeared on Tattoo You and was inspired by Keith Richards’s problems with his own neighbours in New York City.  According to Richards, his neighbours got him evicted from his New York apartment building because they felt that he played his music too loudly.  The actual lyrics were written by Mick Jagger, who, again according to Richards, never had any trouble with his own neighbours.

The video was directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who directed several videos for The Rolling Stones but who is perhaps best known for directing the documentary about the final days of the Beatles, Let It Be.

Music Video of The Day: Like A Rolling Stone, covered by The Rolling Stones (1995, dir by Michel Gondry)


How does it feel….

Needless to say, this song was not originally recorded by The Rolling Stones.  Despite what the title has led some people to assume, the song actually has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones.  Instead, the song was written by Bob Dylan.  It’s long been debated just who exactly Dylan was addressing in the lyrics.  Some people think that Dylan was writing about Edie Sedgwick.  Grace Zabriskie, who is probably best known for playing Sarah Palmer on Twin Peaks, has long claimed that she was the one who inspired the song.  It would appear that only Bob Dylan knows for sure and it’s reasonable to assume that he’ll never tell.

Regardless, I really like this song.  A part of it is because I relate to the lyrics.  I almost feel like they could have been written about me at a certain time in my life.  The other reason I love the song is because the taunting tone of the lyrics makes them perfect whenever you’re looking for something to say to someone who you dislike.  For example, someone once unfollowed me on twitter and I responded by tweeting the lyrics of this song at her until she finally deleted her account.  That was fun.

Anyway, it seemed somewhat inevitable that this song would be covered by The Rolling Stones.  This video, which was directed by the prolific Michel Gondry, follows a young woman as she discovers how it feels to be a complete unknown.  The woman in the video is played by future Oscar-winner Patricia Arquette.

Enjoy!

Film Review: Gimme Shelter (dir by Albert and David Mayles and Charlotte Zwerin)


After you watch Woodstock, you owe it to yourself to watch another documentary from 1970.  This one is called Gimme Shelter and it deals with the infamous Altamont Free Concert.  Taking place a few months after Woodstock, Altamont was originally envisioned as being Woodstock West but, as Gimme Shelter illustrates in disturbing detail, it ultimately became something far different.

Here are a few images from both Gimme Shelter and the Altamont Free Concert:

This is Mick Jagger, the lead singer of The Rolling Stones.  The Rolling Stones were the final act to perform at the Altamont Free Concert and their performance was meant to be the conclusion of their 1969 American tour.  Gimme Shelter was originally meant to be a documentary about the final days of the tour and clips of a confident and charismatic Jagger performing in Madison Square Garden are sprinkled throughout the first 40 minutes of the film.  They provide a striking contrast to the chaos of the second half of the film, in which Jagger finds himself ineffectually trying to maintain order as fights break out in front of the stage.

This is Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones’s drummer.  Though Gimme Shelter is usually referred to as being a documentary about the Rolling Stones, the film pretty much centers around Mick and Charlie.  Gimme Shelter‘s framing device involves Mick and Charlie watching a rough cut of the documentary itself.  While Mick always seems to maintain an air of deliberate detachment, Charlie seems to be visibly disturbed by what happened during their performance at Altamont.

(In another memorable scene, the group is shown listening to their latest recording.  While this rest of the group plays up to the filmmakers, Charlie quietly takes in the music and appears to be surprised when he notices that he’s being filmed.)

This is the Melvin Belli.  An attorney, Belli appears throughout the first half of Gimme Shelter, making the arrangements for the Altamont Free Concert and obviously having a great time showing off for the camera.  At one point, Belli makes a comment about opening for the Stones.  While Belli’s joking, it’s obvious from the tone of his voice that he’d love nothing more than to do so.  In fact, Belli is so busy being entertaining that he really doesn’t seem to notice that, even during the planning stages, the Altamont Free Concert doesn’t sound like a good idea.

This is Sonny Barger, a founding member of the Hell’s Angels.  He’s standing on the Altamont stage, watching Mick Jagger perform.  Why is Barger on stage?  He’s there because, for some reason, someone thought it would be a good idea to hire the Hell’s Angels to handle security at the concert.  (Barger is heard, in the film, saying that he was told that he could sit on the stage and drink beer and all he had to do was keep anyone else from approaching the musicians.)

What is Barger thinking as he watches Jagger perform?  This is a question that I think anyone who has ever watched Gimme Shelter has asked themselves.  Is he annoyed with or menacing Jagger or is he just doing his job and making sure that no one rushes the singer?  Perhaps it’s all of the above.

The man in green is Meredith Hunter.  This shot is the first time that Hunter appears in the film.  The second time is when he’s getting stabbed to death by a member of the Hell’s Angels security force.  Watching the documentary, Jagger asks to rewatch the scene of Hunter’s murder.  The filmmakers slow down the scene and show him both the knife being held by the Hell’s Angel and the gun being held by Hunter.

Even before Hunter’s death, Gimme Shelter has already shown us enough to convince us that the counter culture dream of Woodstock was the exception as opposed to the rule.  The final hour of Gimme Shelter takes place at the Altamont Free Concert and almost every scene feels like an angry rebuke to the positivity of Woodstock.  The crowds were angrier.  The scenery was far less aesthetically pleasing.  (Woodstock took place on a farm.  Altamont took place on a cement race track.)  Whereas Woodstock famously featured warnings about the “brown acid,” Gimme Shelter features one of the concert promoters reacting to concerns about the bad acid circulating in the crowd by saying, “Tough shit.”  Even the naked people at Altamont were far less attractive than the naked people at Woodstock.  Jefferson Airplane played at both festivals.  At Woodstock, they apparently had sound issues but otherwise, there were no problems.  At Altamont, as the cameras rolled, lead singer Marty Balin was knocked unconscious by a Hell’s Angel with a pool cue.

(“I’d like to mention that the Hell’s Angels just smashed Marty Balin in the face and knocked him out for a bit. I’d like to thank you for that,” one of the members of the band announced.)

A few more images from Altamont:

Before the concert starts, this man cheerfully yelled “LSD!  Mescaline!” at everyone walking by.  I’m not sure if that was his dog or not.  But speaking of dogs…

…this dog casually wandered across the stage during the Rolling Stones’s performance.  It’s never clear where he came from or where he went after he left the stage.

Even with the Hell’s Angels beating up everyone in sight, a few people still enjoyed the concert.  This is who I relate to in the film because she was determined to enjoy herself no matter how weird things got.

But then there’s this guy, who was standing only a few feet away from Jagger when he started to freak out:

If Woodstock is ultimately all about peace and life, Gimme Shelter is a film that is suffused with conflict and death.  If you’re going to watch one, you owe it to yourself to watch the other.  In the end, the two documentaries together provide us with a view of a counterculture that had so much potential but which couldn’t escape the darkness that hid behind the light.

(Interestingly enough, future director George Lucas was one of the cameramen at Altamont that day.  Just as how Altamont was often cited as the end of the 60s, the blockbuster success of Lucas’s Star Wars would often be cited as the beginning of the 80s.)

I’ll end this review with a quote from Grace Slick, one that is still relevant today.  As she said as she watched Altamont descend into chaos: “You don’t hassle with anybody in particular. You gotta keep your bodies off each other unless you intend love. People get weird, and you need people like the Angels to keep people in line. But the Angels also – you know, you don’t bust people in the head – for nothing. So both sides are fucking up temporarily; let’s not keep FUCKING UP!”

Music Video of the Day: Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve (1997, directed by Walter Stern)


Does this seem familiar?  It’s because Val already shared her thoughts about this video.  This is a song that means a lot to me, especially on this day, so that’s why I’m sharing my thoughts now.  It’s either that or else I forgot to check on whether this video had been previous shared before I wrote and scheduled this post.

Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony this life
Trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to the money then you die.
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah.
No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change,
but I’m here in my mold, I am here in my mold.
But I’m a million different people from one day to the next
I can’t change my mold, no, no, no, no, no, no, no

Bitter Sweet Symphony.  It’s a beautiful song that, on days like today, means a lot to me.  The lyrics were written by Richard Ashcroft, the lead singer of The Verve.  That’s him in the video, lurching Frankenstein-like down Hoxton Street in London.

The famous orchestral riff, which has been heard in so many movies and commercials, was lifted from a 1965 song by The Rolling Stones, The Last Time.  When the band tried to get permission to use the sample, there was a lot of confusion about who actually owned the rights.  You can read all the details on Songfacts.  It’s a bit too complicated for me to even try to put my mind around.

Well I never pray,
But tonight I’m on my knees, yeah.
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah.
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now.
But the airwaves are clean and there’s nobody singing to me now.

The video,I assume, was very carefully orchestrated.  Personally, I’d love to imagine that Ashcroft just started walking down the street, intentionally crashing into anyone or anything that got in his way.  I especially relate to the woman who gets in Ashcroft’s face after he walks over her car.  That would be me.

The video was directed by Walter Stern, who has sixteen credits listed on the imvdb.  Supposedly the video was inspired by another music video, this one for Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy.  I’ve never seen the Massive Attack video but apparently it also features a lead singer lurching down a street.  Though Walter Stern didn’t direct Unfinished Sympathy, he did do a different video for Massive Attack (Tear Drop) shortly before doing Bitter Sweet Symphony.

No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change,
But I’m here in my mold, I am here in my mold.
And I’m a million different people from one day to the next
I can’t change my mold, no, no, no, no, no, no, no

(Well have you ever been down?)
(I can’t change, I can’t change)

When I rewatched this video for this post, I was struck by just how tall Richard Ashcroft is.  Honestly, I would probably get out of his way.  Unless he walked across my car, of course.  Then I’d get in his face and start yelling.

Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony this life.
Trying to make ends meet, trying to find some money then you die.
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah.
No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change,
but I’m here in my mold, I am here in my mold.
But I’m a million different people from one day to the next
I can’t change my mold, no, no, no, no, no, no, no
I can’t change my mold, no, no, no, no, no, no, no
I can’t change my mold, no, no, no, no, no, no, no

Despite the fact that The Verve was opposed to having their music appear in commercials, they didn’t control the rights.  As such, Bitter Sweet Symphony was used in a campaign for Nike.  The Verve donated the money that they made to the Red Cross Land Mine Appeal.  Of course, the song’s appeared in a lot of commercials and movies since then.

It’s just sex and violence melody and silence
It’s just sex and violence melody and silence (I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down)
It’s just sex and violence melody and silence
It’s just sex and violence melody and silence
It’s just sex and violence melody and silence (I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down)
(It’s just sex and violence melody and silence)Been down
(Ever been down)
(Ever been down)
(Ever been down)
(Ever been down)
(Ever been down)

Enjoy!

Before Woodstock: T.A.M.I. Show (1964, directed by Steve Binder)


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Five years before Woodstock, there was T.A.M.I. Show.

In 1964, a concert was held over two days at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.  Free tickets were distributed to local high school students and the best footage from the two shows was edited into one movie.  Distributed by American International Pictures, T.A.M.I. Show was one of the first concert films.

T.A.M.I. stood for Teenage Awards Music International but no awards were given out during those two days.  Instead, 12 of the most popular music acts of 1964 performed on one stage.  The Beatles may not have been there but almost every other hitmaker of the year showed up.

Among the highlights of T.A.M.I. Show was the performance of James Brown and The Famous Flames, which many consider to be one of the best musical performances ever captured on film.

James Brown’s performance was followed by The Rolling Stones.  Though Keith Richards once claimed that trying to follow James Brown was the biggest mistake of their careers, T.A.M.I. Show was the first time that many American teenagers actually saw the Stones perform.

Also performing: The Supremes, at the height of their popularity.

The Beach Boys’ performance has become semi-legendary because, as a result of copyright issues, it was edited out of prints of T.A.M.I. Show following the initial theatrical run.

For years, T.A.M.I. Show was unavailable for home viewing but finally, in 2010, Shout Factory released this landmark of movie and music history on DVD and they even included the long censored footage of the Beach Boys.  For music lovers, T.A.M.I. Show is a must-see record of the rock scene in between the start of the British invasion and the rise of the counterculture.

Song of the Day: Sympathy for the Devil (by The Rolling Stones)


The latest “Song of the Day” is very near and dear to my blues-covered metal heart. I consider it one of the best rock ‘n’ roll songs ever created. It’s been covered by numerous bands in the decades since it’s initial release but I will always consider the original as the best. The latest song of the day is The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”.

This song was released in the early days of December 1968. It was the opening track for The Rolling Stones’ latest album (Beggars Banquet) at that date. What makes this song so great is how simple the song really comes across. It doesn’t have the typical blues rock tone of previous Stones’ songs until Keith Richard’s guitar solo around the 2:55 mark. The song definitely sounds more like a combination of folk rock (by way of it’s spoken word-like lyrics) and a samba (due to the incorporation of additional percussions like the congas).

“Sympathy for the Devil” has been called a confession song while others see it as the narcissistic bragging of the narrator. Both viewpoints are quite valid and there are more as every listener of this song hears and imagines different themes. I always saw it as a combination of the two. It’s Lucifer both confession and bragging about his role in the tumultuous and evil events in man’s history. It’s a song it’s narrator wants it’s listeners to understand his role in all these events. Events as evil as they are but done so with style and panache that should count for something.

It’s no wonder Neil Jordan used the Guns ‘n’ Roses cover of this song to close out the final scenes of Interview With A Vampire. It definitely fit the film as a whole. One had to wonder if the song was for Louis or for Lestat. Of more recent use for the song was it’s inclusion in the game soundtrack for Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops. I’ve included the Guns ‘n’ Roses cover below so you all can decide on your own which was better: the version by the song’s primogenitors or it’s harsher cover by a band that ended up splitting up during it’s production.

Sympathy for the Devil

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long years
Stole many a man’s soul and faith

And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game

I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain

I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
(woo woo, woo woo)

I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
(woo woo, woo woo)

I shouted out,
“Who killed the Kennedys?”
When after all
It was you and me
(who who, who who)

Let me please introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached Bombay
(woo woo, who who)

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
(who who)
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
(who who, who who)

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what’s confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
(woo woo, who who)

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint
(who who, who who)

So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
(woo woo)
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I’ll lay your soul to waste, um yeah
(woo woo, woo woo)

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
(who who)
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, um mean it, get down
(woo woo, woo woo)

Woo, who
Oh yeah, get on down
Oh yeah
Oh yeah!
(woo woo)

Tell me baby, what’s my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what’s my name
I tell you one time, you’re to blame

Oh, who
woo, woo
Woo, who
Woo, woo
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Oh, yeah

What’s my name
Tell me, baby, what’s my name
Tell me, sweetie, what’s my name

Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Woo, who, who
Oh, yeah
Woo woo
Woo woo