My Freeze Ray - Neil Patrick Harris (mp3)
Come What May - Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman (mp3)
I’ll get to the music portion of this post in a minute, but I’d like to focus on Crazy Heart the movie for a couple of paragraphs first.
Jeff Bridges is easily on my list of top five best actors. (Most days, anyway. My top five would fluctuate more wildly than the DOW.) For him and Maggie Gyllenhaal to share prime acting real estate virtually guarantees I’ll find the movie palatable. Bridges’ acting job is stunning and deserved the recognition it received. Crazy Heart is good, but it’s not great.
The music in the movie is passable. It might even be “OK.” But the problem with almost all movies attempting to show the rise and/or fall of musical gods is that you’re required to believe that songs you’ve never heard before are songs that should have burned into your soul.
“Foolish consistency...” is my best and only defense.
It’s not just movies that do an injustice to music for me. Books that try to deal with music the wrong way leave me cold as well. My absolute least favorite parts of The Lord of the Rings trilogy is when Tolkein breaks out the lyrics. I just don’t know what to do with them. They’re not poems; they’re supposed to be set to music. So I find myself drifting away into a place where I’m trying to find some tolerable tune that works with the words. And I’m doomed to fail, because if I could succeed, then I’d be off churning out awesome Middle Earth ditties.
Dan Jenkins, author of many a guilty pleasure, is famous for including lyrics to made-up country songs in his books, and those are the only parts of his books I can’t stand. If Tolkein couldn’t win me over, a Texan has no chance.
Music is the tuning fork on my heart, on many hearts. Attempting to translate that into a different medium, into another art form, is to destroy the connection.
My beef with Crazy Heart has nothing to do with country music. Honestly, I don’t even know what “country music” means anymore. Music categories, in the last 20 years, have become as increasingly meaningless as bond ratings.
It’s one thing to translate comics or books into movies. Or to make audio recordings of poetry readings. Or to make a TV show into a comic book. But songs and music are different. They can’t be bandied about across media so easily. And that, my dear readers, is what makes music a unique snowflake of artistry.