Feb 192008

True confession – and not one that I’m comfortable sharing: the first time I ever found myself even barely appreciating the music of Pink Floyd was when a friend dragged me along to see the movie The Wall. Maybe I’d heard “See Emily Play” and liked that song, but I had not yet bought Relics and spent any time contemplating how much more I liked Syd Barrett-era Floyd than the stuff that The In Crowd at both my school and in my neighborhood were digging on their hi-fi systems with 5-foot high speakers and all kinds of fancy components I was still years away from owning myself.

When the film came out, the soundtrack album was immediately HUGE. In the weeks leading up to my friend dragging me out to see this flick, I’d already hated the songs from that album, just as I’d hated Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and even that supposedly cooler album from right before they broke, with some long song called “Echoes”. (I did think the album cover for Animals was cool, and I still remember a friendly In Crowder who brought back pictures of that actual building that he snapped on a trip to England.) How The In Crowd with their prime teenage girlfriends and tales of primo weekend parties loved friggin’ “Echoes”! I’m not ashamed to admit that, before I hated everything about Pink Floyd and what they represented to me way back when, just as I’m not ashamed to admit that I pretty much hated myself.

What does trouble me and my pathetic sense of actually having exquisite taste and an inner cool is that it took seeing this stoner rock flick, complete with those animated scenes that never were my cup of tea and still aren’t to this day, to first tune into the humanity and longing of the music of Roger Waters and company. I’m not saying the movie unlocked some profound emotional identification with the band and its music, but it gave me a clue that these dudes at least wanted to be good, that they had something on their minds and in their hearts and they hoped to get it out. Granted, substitute the music of Toto for Pink Floyd and those good intentions would be completely worthless. The “human face” that the movie The Wall enabled me to enjoy what I could out of Roger Waters-era Floyd. I still prefer the Syd stuff – and I prefer Syd’s 2 solo albums to Piper at the Gates of Dawn – but as the movie plays on some cable station in the background, I can’t recall another rock flick opening my mind to a band I’d previously not like and, in fact, even despised. I know rock flicks are usually known for ruining great music – maybe real Floyd fans felt this way about The Wall. But has any rock flick had a similar, positive influence on your liking of the featured band?

By the way, I still don’t like that “Echoes” song. I once tried to watch that Live at Pompeii movie, and boy that was boring!


  15 Responses to “Rock Flicks That Actually Helped You Appreciate a Band You’d Not Previously Liked – and Perhaps Even Despised!”

  1. dbuskirk

    It was hard to “get” Rick Springfield until I saw HARD TO HOLD.

  2. I still don’t love Bob Dylan, but before I saw DON’T LOOK BACK, I didn’t understand why anyone did. When I watched that documentary, I was able to understand the power of his stark, pre band approach, and how just the words alone helped a wave of people define themselves.

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    I used to think that Sun Ra was yet another starving artist pretending to be “ca-raaaay-zeee” for the benefit of jaded hipster assholes. Then I watched that weird sci-fi movie he starred in, and I realized he was kind of for real. This made me appreciate his creative efforts a bit more. I still don’t consider mysef a rabid Sun Ra fan, per se, but I’d give any of his work a chance if someone suggested I do so.

    BTW, any Sun Ra suggestions?

  4. Thought I’d share this bit of trivia, for those who never read this story (and also, completely ignore the point of this thread)…

    From this site:

    The other mention came on page 56, in a sidenote to a Boomtown Rats article. This was titled “In The Pink: Bob Geldof looks back on the start of his short-lived acting career, in Pink Floyd’s The Wall.” This is what Geldof said:

    “I had no ambitions to be an actor, but Alan Parker rang me up, which was very flattering because I loved Midnight Express. He said he was working on an adaptation of The Wall. Problem was, I didn’t like the Floyd. I thought, bunch of hippies, get it together and make a bloody pop song. More pressingly, the script was flimsy to say the least. Nonetheless, my manager Fachtna was keen for me to do it, so while we were in a taxi, I pulled it out and challenged him to keep a straight face while I read it. Of course, he pisses himself laughing. But Parker doesn’t stop pursuing me. They said, ‘Meet up with Roger Waters’, and I said, No, he’s a c**t. But I go, and I like him very much. He says, ‘I heard you don’t like the Floyd.’ I tell him that I love ‘Arnold Layne’ and ‘See Emily Play’, but beyond that I don’t get it. He tells me if he’d had an idea like ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’, he’d make it into an album. I tell him the whole point is that it’s a pop song. Then he says, ‘I believe you think the script is horrible’ and I said ‘Well yeah. That’s why I don’t want to do it. And I’m not sure I understand the album…” Gradually we start getting along great – we’re both combative and snotty. Then he tells me how he knows I don’t like the script. It turns out that the taxi driver when I’d been sneering at the script was Roger Waters’ brother! How bizarre is that? Anyway, Waters is cool because I’ve never brown-nosed him. He goes into what it’s about, and I sort of begin to see. The pay isn’t very good, but I figure I’m never going to be asked to do a movie again. Looking back at it, it’s mortifyingly embarrassing. I am completely c**tish in it. But it didn’t stop me from being offered other parts.”

  5. As many people here know, I spent my high school years deeply and perhaps erroneously obsessed with Floyd. But even I think the movie of The Wall is a piece of shit. I’m a little surprised by Mr. Mod’s revelation. Which element did you like better: the many scenes of Bob Geldof watching TV or Roger Waters’ ever-so-insightful rock star-as-Nazi metaphor, which is utilized in the most tasteful manner possible?
    I definitely think End of the Century gave a really well-rounded portrait of The Ramones that cut through the cartoon personae. But I already liked their music before seeing the movie.

  6. HVB: There’s a pretty cool two-disc comp from about a decade ago called THE SINGLES that might interest you. As outre as much of his music was, Sun Ra never lost sight of the connections between jazz and R&B and rock and roll, and he didn’t consider himself “above” any of the more pop-oriented genres. One of the things I most admire about the guy, actually.

    One of my favorite True Facts of all time: one of Sun Ra’s most committed acolytes, up there with John Gilmore, was a saxophonist named Pat Patrick. His son, Deval Patrick, is the governor of Massachusetts.

  7. hrrundivbakshi

    Thanks, G48!

  8. Oats,

    Let’s not forget the innovative cartoon depictions of Waters’s Oedipal complex.

  9. G48 got in there before me but I would recommend The Singles as well. Starts with some really “normal” sounding stuff from the ’50s and goes from there. A great way to follow Sun Ra from planet earth to outer space.

  10. Mr. Moderator

    Oats and Dr. John, while you sneer at my confession and this cheesy piece of rock film-making, feel free to share your own experiences with films that helped you appreciate a band/artist you’d previously not liked.

    Oats, to answer your question, by having to sit through the movie with the ham-fisted imagery I was forced to confront the music and Waters’ aspirations. It helped greatly that I didn’t have some dude in my face recounting tales of how keeeerrrraaaaazzzy Syd was and how amazing the album sounded on headphones when you were, like, tripping, man.

    Without the distractions and with the not-unbearable visual stimulation, I could understand the sense that he probably thought of himself as mining similar territory to solo John Lennon. Waters’ lyrics must have had special healing powers for the burnouts who were fawning over that stuff when I was in high school. It wasn’t all my cup of tea, but having to sit there and hear the music blasted over the theater’s soundsystem without the band’s fans in my face helped me empathize with the band’s aspirations. Like a lot of us, I knew a little about losing a parent and being angry at The Man, so the songs could resonate more than they ever did while hearing them on the radio. Pretty basic, I think.

  11. Fair enough, Mr. Mod. I was just surprised and/or curious since that film is so rarely defended or remembered fondly.
    This should be an easy topic for me, since I can happily watch rock docs about bands I could care less about. I even like to read Wikipedia entries on bands I hate. But I don’t think I’ve ever been converted via film.

  12. Mr. Moderator

    I don’t doubt you, Oats. I still can’t think of another film that’s swayed me.

  13. BigSteve

    Whoever mention Anton Newcombe reminded me of that movie that documents the relationship between the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre (Dig?). The movie was quite interesting, and it made me appreciate the two bands a bit more, though not enough to pursue any of their records.

  14. out of the 2 bands in DIG, I think the only really good album is Strung-out in Heaven by the BJTM

  15. I think I may own more Sun Ra records than any other artist in my collection. I’d recommend Space is the Place as a good start. The version on Impulse which was the same titled album originally released on Blue Thumb. There is a “Space is the Place” soundtrack on Evidence but it’s not quite as good. The title track is a beautifully produced slice of Ra with the signature chanting vocals, singing off key horns and odd time signatures. It was produced by Ed Michel, who has some great stories floating around on the web concerning the RA/Impulse deal in the early 70’s. Yeah, Ra was pretty out there for real.

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