Category Archives: music

A Hard Day’s Night

Note: Everything having anything to do with The Beatles has been and will continue to be combed through hair-by-hair and painstakingly studied under a microscope, so it’s fair to say that in some ways this post is more about me than it is about the film. I don’t claim to be an expert.

Last night, we all went to the seven o’clock showing of the recently restored A Hard Day’s Night at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge. I’d seen it a few times before–once in probably 7th grade, when along with my friend Nora I was a latter-day Beatlemaniac, and then a few more times over the years–always on video. Never having seen the film in the theater before, I was just happy to finally see it on the big screen–restoration or no.

This viewing reaffirmed some of my longstanding opinions.

#1: My regard for Ringo. Nora’s favorite was George. That was a solid choice. John (whose talents and intellect I probably respect the most) and Paul (who is really nothing special at all on film) were too obvious. But I was honestly drawn to Ringo. Particularly in those early days, he was sort of cute and funny and unintimidating. A Hard Day’s Night shows him as the life of the party (love that scene–anyone who dances like that automatically gets my respect), and also as a sensitive, simple sort of person–a bit goofy, not at all infallible, able to comfortably connect with a wandering youth (whose wild freedom he no doubt envies). From an outsider’s viewpoint, the fame seems to have affected him–who he was as a person–the least of the four. He really was Richard Lester’s pick as the most story-worthy and perhaps even the best actor of the bunch (see Help!, in which Ringo is also at the center of things). His natural charm and humor translate well on screen.

#2: My love for the song “If I Fell.” Of all the remastered music in the film, this is the song that stands out for me–again. This sort of links up with my respect for George Martin (who, bless him, is still alive, in case anyone was wondering). It’s a lovely song, and his production work really makes it more than the sum of its parts.

Not sure that clip even quite does it justice. Last night in the theater, for the duration of that song, I was transported. </gush>

But beyond all that I sort of knew before, there was more. I always knew what the film was–what it was about on a surface level and maybe a little deeper if a viewer wanted to go there. But seeing it in the theater and with the benefit of the restoration (and maybe the benefit of my own experiences since the last time I saw it) yielded for me an increased appreciation of the sort of theme of the film. At the end, when they’re playing for the theater full of frenzied, mostly female teenagers, the shots from behind, where we see the crazed audience through the spaces between Ringo and his drum kit, are poetic. The slow tracking shot effectively contrasts the relative steadiness of their performance on stage with the hysteria looking back at them. So much of Beatlemania was wanting more of them, looking at them, asking things of them. Here we get their perspective–the absurdity of the interviews and the charm and good humor with which they approached them (at least, in those days), the many levels of their entrapment. The film is nearly all fun, all humorous, but underlying it there’s that constant need to get away. The film starts with them running, and ends with them flying and leaving a trail of promotional photographs–their image–in their wake. That the last song they play is “She Loves You” seems a very deliberate, meaningful choice. “She loves you”–all these crazy girls are mad for you and force you to be closed up in cars and hotels and to wear disguises and have scarcely a minute to yourself, whatever that would look like (you hardly know anymore)–“and you know you should be glad.” Right?

Human Highway

The Plot and Such:  Well, it’s sketchy.  See, there’s this kind of scuzzy guy (Dean Stockwell).  He inherits a roadside diner near a very poorly maintained nuclear power plant.  His fry cook (Dennis Hopper) is quietly certifiable.  The scuzzy guy’s plan is to torch the place for the insurance money.  Then there’s this other guy who pumps the gas (Neil Young).  He’s not too bright.  He dreams of seeing/becoming his favorite rock star (also played by Neil Young).  Devo provide a sort of musical commentary.  There are dream/drug trip sequences–sort of, and the ending has elements of a cross between Monty Python and Everyone Says I Love You, but Devo-style.

Human Highway is just exactly as terrible and as perfect as you might guess that a 1982 film (begun in 1978) by Neil Young and Dean Stockwell featuring Devo, Russ Tamblyn, and Dennis Hopper would be. This was before Hopper cleaned up and got sober.  I read a review that mentioned Pee Wee Herman, and there’s definitely something of that in Human Highway. Neil Young has decent comedic timing. Devo’s music is present, as are a few Neil Young tunes, but not so much that the film is merely an extended music video. There’s a drug trip within the drug trip and lots of indulgence. And Booji Boy.  Proceed at your own risk.

Life without Facebook, Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of my hiatus from Facebook.  I got up early.  I went to the gym.  I did work.  I started catching up on a lot of music listening.  I worked on the scarf I’ve been knitting for Rainer, which I finished this morning.

Here are some of the fruits of yesterday’s listening.  I’ll refrain from trying to describe them, as that just seems to prejudice the listener.

Hundred Waters

Hundred Waters

Hundred Waters-Sonnet
From the 2012 album Hundred Waters on OWSLA.

IO Echo

IO Echo "When Lillies Die" Single

IO Echo-When Lillies Die
From the 2013 album Ministry of Love on IAMSOUND Records.

Cabinet of Curiosities

Jacco Gardner-Clear the Air
From the 2013 album Cabinet of Curiosities on Trouble in Mind Records.

Where am I going, where have I been?

It’s been an exceptionally eventful couple of weeks for me.  Things are happening!

Generationals at Red 7 Patio, SXSW 2011

Generationals at Red 7 Patio, SXSW 2011

I just returned from my first SXSW.  I saw somewhere in the neighborhood of 30+ acts, including American Music Club, Austra, Capsula, Decades, The Dodos, DOM, Generationals, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Gift Horse, Grass Widow, Grimes, Hooray for Earth, Intimate Stranger, Lower Dens, Now Now, Pujol, Secret Colours, Some Community, The Strange Boys, Sundress, Telekinesis, Times New Viking, tUnE-yArDs, Twin Tigers, Valleys, Veronica Falls, Versus, We Barbarians, Weekend, Wild Flag, and Wye Oak.  I brought back a couple of t-shirts, some CDS, a tote bag, some weird bruises, a sunburn, a cough, about 4000 pictures (just guessing), and some stories…  I’m embarking on the serious photo editing now.  The pictures in this post are just a tiny preview.

The Scene at Red 7 Patio for Weekend, 3/16

The Scene at Red 7 Patio for Weekend, SXSW 2011

In the lead-up to SXSW, I launched, a little online portal for terri wise photography and any associated ventures.  Big thanks to Ez for helping make that happen.

Shortly before SXSW, I interviewed the totally fabulous Jessie Stein of the Luyas (see below for more on them).  I thoroughly enjoyed our chat.  It helps that I am genuinely interested in and enthusiastic about what they do.  Check out the interview here.

I have been pondering the future of this here blog.  Do I focus it more on music and post more frequently?  It’s a thought.  Stay tuned and see what happens.