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!

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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

A Quickie With Lisa Marie: Gimme Shelter (performed by Merry Clayton and the Rolling Stones)


Today is November 9th.  I’m 25 years old today and I don’t want to talk about it.  Bleh.  Instead, let’s just play one of the greatest songs ever written, Gimme Shelter.

Gimme Shelter is one of those songs that seems to turn up in every fourth movie that I watch and it’s easy to tell why.  It’s a great song.  Despite the apocalyptic subject matter, this is an undeniably exhilirating song.  This is a song that makes my heart beat faster every time I hear it.  If I ever happen to total my car again, it’ll probably be because I was listening to this song while driving.  If I ever make out my list of top ten songs to fuck make love fuck to, Gimme Shelter will be at the top of the list along with Blondie’s Atomic, Siouxsie and the Banshee’s Kiss Them For Me, and every song on Moby’s Play CD.

Is it possible that Gimme Shelter is the greatest song of all time?

Yes.

10 Films I Must See Before I Die


I love movies.  I love watching movies, reading about movies, and talking about movies.  Perhaps most of all, I love the hunt.  I love discovering movies or finding movies that had previously, for me, only existed in reviews or as a collection of screen captures.  To me, there is no greater experience the watching a movie for the first time.  (Even if, as often happens, that first time turns out to be the only time.)  Listed below are ten movies that I have yet to see but desperately hope to at some point in my life. 

1)  Giallo a Venzia (1979) — This is supposedly one of the most graphically depraved Italian horror films ever made.  If that’s not a recommendation, I don’t know what is.  Actually, I haven’t heard a single good thing about this movie but it has still become something of a Holy Grail in my quest to see as much Italian horror as possible.  This is largely because the movie is nearly impossible to find.  When it was first released, it was banned in the UK as part of the so-called “video nasties” scare.  (Trust the English to not only ban a movie but to come up with an annoying name for doing so in the process.)   This led to it never really getting much of a release in the English-speaking world and, now years later, it’s only available on bootleg DVDs.  As such, I imagine that if I ever do see it, it’ll be because I made a deal in a back alley with some bald guy who speaks with a Russian accent.  Much as with drug prohibition, the fact that its “forbidden” has made this movie rather attractive.

The few people who have seen this always mention that towards the end of the movie, Mariangela Giordano’s legs are graphically sawed off.  This makes sense as Giordano was always meeting grotesque ends in Italian horror movies.  In Patrick Lives Again, she is impaled (through her vagina no less) by a fireplace poker while in Burial Ground, she makes the mistake of breast feeding her zombie son.  In many ways, Giordano was like a female Giovanni Lombardo Radice.  However, its odd to consider that while the sight of Giordano’s legs getting sawed off was enough to get the film banned, the sight of poker being graphically driven into her crotch was apparently totally acceptable.  Censorship is a strange thing, no?

One last reason I want to see this movie — its filmed in Venice.  When I was in Italy, I fell in love with Venice.  (I also fell in love with a tour guide named Luigi but that’s another story.)

2) An uncut version of Nightmares in a Damaged Brain (1981) — This is another banned Italian movie.  When Nightmares was originally released, Tom Savini was credited as being behind the special effects.  Savini, however, has long claimed to have had little to nothing to do with the movie.  As Savini, to his credit, has never been embarrassed to claim ownership for his effects (regardless of the movie they appear in), I’m inclined to believe him.

In many ways, Nightmares reminds me of a film that Savini actually did work on, Maniac.  Not so much as far as the plot is concerned but just in the same bleak worldview and almost palpable sleaze that seems to ooze from every scene.  The version that is most widely available on DVD (and the one that I own) appears to be the cut version that was eventually okayed for release in the UK and even cut, this is a film that remains oddly compelling in just how much its willing to immerse itself in sleaze.  The uncut version remains elusive but someday, I will find it.

3) The Day The Clown Cried (1972) — You knew this one was coming, didn’t you?  I think everyone wants to see Jerry Lewis’s never released Holocaust comedy.  Supposedly, Lewis keeps the movie in a locked vault which I just find to be oddly hilarious.  My hope is that, if nothing else, some enterprising filmmaker will make a movie about a crack team of thieves who break into Jerry Lewis’s estate just to steal the only copy of The Day The Clown Cried and sell it to the people at Anchor Bay.  Jerry could play himself.  I also think this film will see the light of day sooner or later.  At some point, either Jerry Lewis or his estate is going to need the money.

4) The Other Side of the Wind — Orson Welles apparently spent the last few decades of his life making this movie.  At the time of his death, the movie was reportedly 95% film but only 40% edited.  Apparently, because of a whole lot of complicated legal things, the movie has spent the last 30 years under lock and key in Iran.  Even if somebody could rescue it, the remaining footage still needs a strong hand to put it together.  While I’m sure that many directors would be happy to volunteer to provide that hand, the two names most frequently mentioned — Peter Bogdonavich and Henry Jaglom — do not fill me with confidence.  I’d rather see the final film put together by Jess Franco, who was assistant director on Chimes at Midnight.

5) The Fantastic Four (1994) — This is not the dull movie that came out in 2005.  This apparently an even duller version of the same film that was made 11 years earlier for legal reasons.  Apparently, Roger Corman would have lost the movie rights to the comic book if he didn’t start production on a film by a certain date.  So, this film was made on the cheap and then promptly shelved.  My main desire to see it comes from the same morbid desire that makes me look at crime scene photos.  How bad can it be?

6) Le Cinque Giornate (1973) — This Italian film is apparently many things.  It’s a comedy.  It’s a historical epic.  It’s a satire of then contemporary Italian politics.  And most of all, it’s also apparently the only non-horror film directed by Dario Argento.  This was Argento’s fourth  film, coming after his celebrated animal trilogy and it was apparently an attempt, on Argento’s part, to break away from the giallo genre that he has since come to symbolize.  Though the film apparently did well enough in Italy, it failed to establish Argento as a director of comedy and that’s probably for the best as Argento’s fifth film would be the classic Deep Red.  Still, it’s hard not to play the “What If?” game, especially when it involves an iconic a figure as Dario Argento.  It’s also interesting to compare Argento’s attempts to go from horror to comedy with the career of Lucio Fulci, who went from comedy to horror.

7) Cocksucker Blues (1972) — Robert Frank’s documentary of the Rolling Stone touring America was officially unreleased because of its title.  While that title certainly played a role, it also appears that the film was unreleased because of just how much hedonism Frank managed to capture backstage.  The Stones apparently went to the court to block the film’s release.  Somehow, this resulted in a ruling that the movie can only be shown if Robert Frank is physically present.  Mr. Frank, if you’re alive and reading this, you have an open invitation to come down to Texas and stay with me anytime you want.  Seriously.

8 ) The Profit (2001) — The Profit is a satiric film about a cult.  The film’s cult is known as The Church of Scientific Spiritualism and is led by a recluse named L. Conrad Powers.  Sound familiar?  The film’s release was (and continues to be) prevented by a lawsuit brought by the Church of Scientology.  Say what you will about the Vatican, at least you can attack them in a movie without having to worry about getting sued or blown up.

9) Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987) — Probably one of the most famous film that most of us will never see, Superstar tells the story of Karen Carpenter through the use of Barbie dolls.  Director Todd Haynes supposedly failed to get the rights to the music he used in the film and, obviously enough, nobody in the Carpenter camp was all the eager to give him permission. 

9) Can Hieronymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe And Find True Happiness (1969) — God, don’t you hate that title?  And, honestly, are you surprised that a film with that title is apparently history’s 1st X-rated musical?  Anyway, this is a movie I’ve come across in various film reference books where it’s either described as a masterpiece or (more often) one of the worst movies ever made.  Myself, I love musicals and if the musical numbers are mixed in with explicit sex — well, why not?  But that title — that title just gives me a bad feeling.  Another thing that gives me a bad feeling is that the movie was apparently the brainchild of Anthony Newley.  I don’t know much about Mr. Newley but what I do know seems to indicate that he personified everything that most people hate about musicals.  The film is apparently autobiographical and its about a really talented composer who treats the women in his life terribly but has a lot of reasons (or excuses) that we learn about in elaborate flashbacks and — wait, I’ve seen this movie.  Oh wait, that was Nine.  Anyway, Merkin was a huge flop and it has never been released on any type of video format.  Yet, it has not been forgotten which can only mean that it must have really traumatized the critics who saw it.  In other words, this is another one of my “how-bad-can-it-be” crime scene movies.

10) The uncut, original, 9-hour version of Erich Von Stroheim’s Greed (1924) — A girl can dream, can’t she?