My life with the Rolling Stones (not to mention before them and, by the way, ever since) has been so much like a movie -- call it Expresso Bongo meets A Clockwork Orange and throw in a Satyricon/Snakepit double feature while I try and decide if I should play the Tony Curtis or the Burt Lancaster role in The Sweet Smell Of Success -- that I had to remind myself that this little masterpiece by David Chase -- Not Fade Away actually IS a movie!
You'll excuse me if I gave up on cinema years ago. In light of which you can imagine the shock to my system, and I've had a few, seeing real people doing real things, having real emotions, and realizing I'm not watching HBO! Isn't all modern cinema Disney on parade? A thirty by seventy comic book?
Well bravo Brad Grey!
He backed The Sopranos and never lost faith when the entire "legit" Hollywood industry turned them down, and now has stayed loyal (yes I used faith and loyal and Hollywood in the same sentence) to support David Chase creating a totally authentic moment in the '60's when generations collided and from which society has never recovered. And not a super hero in sight!
And when I say 'authentic' you can believe it, darlings, because I was one of causers of that collision. Google me, baby. Google me all night long. But I get ahead of myself...
As good as the movie is, and it's as good as it gets, with James Gandolfini far more frightening playing EVERYONE'S father than he ever was in his Tony Soprano role; a movie about music is only as good as, well, the music. And equally important, only as good as the actors' ability to sell it.
Not often a happy marriage, these two art forms. But surprisingly, happily, seamless here.
And speaking of authenticity, David Chase proves his genius isn't just in his writing, casting, and directing (and choosing who does his liner notes). Oh no, my congregation, just in case any of you doubted his seriousness, when it came to choosing who would realize his vision and actually create the music the film depended on, he hooked up with the Guv'ner himself.
Let me just say it-David Chase and Steven Van Zandt are the Scorsese/DeNiro of Rock Movie Music!
Their re-enforcement of each others' impeccable credibility and attention to detail is consistently thrilling throughout the proceedings. And Van Zandt's insistence that the actors themselves do the singing paid off in the most totally believable portrayals of young Rock singers, acted by non-musicians, that I've ever seen.
Van Zandt begged Chase to find musicians that could act. Nope, said Chase, the acting has to come first. He wouldn't compromise (he can't spell it) so the acting came first, Magaro, Huston, Brill, Heathcote, all great.
But, alas, not a musical bit of talent anywhere in sight! So off they went for six months to Van Zandt's Renegade Bootcamp. Five and six days a week.
Obsessed with details? He brought in Andy White, the man who played the drums on the Beatles' "Love Me Do," to teach Magaro how to play in an authentic '62 manner which meant left wrist turned up.
Every guitar part is right, every sound, every instrument (Steven also brought in Andy Babiuk who wrote Beatles' Gear and is the world's foremost expert on Rock equipment), every microphone, every riff, every move, total authenticity.
And have I mentioned this is a really cool record to listen to? Love the comparisons between the original and the (movie) band's cover versions.
Every young band today could learn something from this film. Just like the Beatles and Stones, the best cover bands become the best writers. After finding their way to an identity by way of the great Rock pioneers, many of them represented here, the reward for all the work finally comes for our flawed heroes.
In, for me, the most thrilling part of this consistently engaging film, the band, contentious and troubled off stage, show the miraculous alchemy all great groups, at least momentarily, possess as they perform their first great original song, the perfect "St. Valentine's Day Massacre," electrified and transported by their own evolving craft.
For the Stones it was "The Last Time." I remember exactly that feeling of suddenly having extra oxygen and the blood speeding up in the veins knowing the band was moving on to the next level.
The "St. Valentine's..." scene in the film captures that blissful moment precisely as I remember it. Not an easy epiphany to fictionalize.
I could go on but I have a close-up I must get ready for.
In the mean time, know this.
The excellent collection of music you hold in your hands, like this superb film, like Buddy Holly, like the Rolling Stones, like greatness in all it's forms, will not fade away.
~ Andrew Loog Oldham
Manager, Producer The Rolling Stones '63-'67
DJ Sirius XM21 The Underground Garage
Also, be sure to check out the soundtrack, which will be out digitally tomorrow and features The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, The Sex Pistols, Bo Diddley, Robert Johnson, The Rascals and more!