Lately I've been into watching these "rockumentaries", aka documentaries about rock bands (or anything music related, really). Last week, I plugged for "Sound City", the documentary by Dave Grohl on the legendary recording studio. Netflix has another good one about the 70's rock band, Big Star, called "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me" (2012). Haven't heard of them? You'd be surprised. They were hugely influential for a number of rock bands (REM) and had a sort of revival, almost cult following in the 80's. Have you seen That 70's Show? The theme song is "In The Street" from Big Star's debut album #1 Record (1972).
Through a classic move of random internet surfing last night, I came across a reference to this documentary released in 2008 called "It Might Get Loud", directed and produced by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim. It brings together three legendary rock guitarists - Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2), and Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs) - which is actually pretty awesome to think about, those three guys all in one room, right? The movie gives some insight into their musical backgrounds which come through in their very different styles of playing and writing. I think I was most intrigued to learn more about Jimmy Page's background - he is an incredibly interesting and talented musician (obviously) AND artist (did you know he went to art college?). I'm not sure if I would put The Edge (David Howell) in the same category as the other two, but I think I get why he was included. He does a lot of experimenting with sounds and the way everything gets pieced together, a crucial aspect of live performances. Need I say anything more about Jack White? Actually, I read this interesting interview in 2009 by The Wall Street Journal with Guggenheim regarding the three musicians::
"WSJ: There was an interesting dynamic at work. White was clearly influenced by Page and yet he seemed to reject the Edge’s use of technology to enhance his sound.
Guggenheim: I actually had to make that more subtle. I was with Jack’s guitar tech when Edge’s equipment started rolling in. Jack’s was a couple of guitars, an amp and wires. Edge’s stuff came in a truck. It took a day to set up. Jack’s guitars you can buy at a pawnshop and Edge’s you’d have to sweep all electronic stores and find the one guy who knows how to connect them. Jack talks about attitude. Edge is more of a scientist. And the guitar is only the beginning of what he does."
The film also highlights each guitarist's creative process and how they go about writing and putting together a song. For Edge, it is a process of trial and error to find what sounds just right. For White, it is a one-and-done, let's-not-screw-around type of thing (did you see when he and Neil Young cut a vinyl live on The Tonight Show?) . For Page, I think it just comes out of him and he tries to capture it down before it's gone. If you're like me, I mostly feel incredible envy of people like that, who can just sit down and create something straight from the soul - whether its a drawing, or song, or piece of writing. The next best thing to do is just soak in as much of other people's talent as you can, right?
So the next time you feel like brushing up on your guitar and legendary rock band history, I'd recommend watching "It Might Get Loud". Pretty awesome stuff.
"When you're digging deeper into rock and roll, you're on a freight train headed straight for the blues..." - Jack White