Long Live Sound City – Dave Grohl And Friends Go Reel To Real

Dave Grohl is a dude… A normal dude.

He gets up in the morning, just like me.

He makes coffee, just like me.

He has a daughter, just like me.

He takes a morning dump, just like me.

The similarities pretty much end there.

He wants you to know that he is just a regular guy, and made a point of saying it several times at last night’s screening of the amazing and fantastic documentary, Sound City.  Though in my book, regular guys don’t travel around the world playing to sold-out arenas… or get to play music with legends like Tom Petty and Paul McCartney.

However, even before last night’s screening, if you asked me to name a few rockers I would love to hang out with… and think I COULD actually pal around with, Dave would have been on that list.  I don’t know that HE wants to grab a Scotch with ME… but he comes across as honest and sincere, down to earth… and yes, quite normal.  This has always been my perception, and last night not only solidified that, but put him up a good few notches.

Dave Grohl is one of the most successful musicians in history, from Nirvana to the Foo Fighters to whatever other projects he might have up his tattooed sleeve.  Everyone wants to play with him, and that is only partly because of what a killer player he is.  The man is downright cool.

The best musicians in the world are the ones who truly understand those who came before them… honor those bands and artists and in a way, serve as rock historians.  They are the torch bearers, the messengers, the story tellers… the ones who will give us the inside scoop and a lesson in why what came before them is essential and important.

Guys like Dave Grohl and Little Steven can discuss so many different groups and styles, what they did, how and why they did it… and the sheer passion and amazement in their voices when they tell these stories is infectious and powerful.

I liken it to Martin Scorsese in the world of film.  His knowledge is vast, and it informs who he is as a director and filmmaker, but also as an artist and human being.  Scorsese is one of the best filmmakers around, but I am also guessing he is one of the best film viewers.  The man LOVES movies.

Sound City is a beautiful film and one I cannot recommend highly enough.  It is a celebration of music… of Rock n’ Roll… It will make you yearn for the past and pray for the future.  It is charming and funny and powerful, and it shows the true magic that can be created by putting human beings into a room with a few instruments and some tape.  Though perhaps sadly, it captures a period in time that is too rapidly fading.

In my lifetime, we have moved from vinyl to 8-track and cassettes, to CDs and now to mp3 digital downloads.  I find it a bit ironic and very hopeful that vinyl is finding its way back on the shelves, but the times are not a changin’… they have changed.

The movie starts with the famous Neve console… the impetus for the whole project.  It shows the astounding albums that were recorded in what everyone describes as a dump in Van Nuys… and it talks about the history of Sound City and what it meant to so many people.

Dave is big on many things… dropping the F bomb for one… which is just part of who he is… and something I actually like because in this context it defines passion and truth.  He is about making great fuckin’ music… now he has me doing it… and making sure things are paid forward.  He wants you to hear a Nirvana album or a Foo Fighters record and get so fuckin’ inspired, that you make a great record of your own.  While I think my days of being a Rock Star or even a musician are long behind me… Dave has inspired me to write this… and hopefully make that next great Rock n’ Roll movie that lives in my head and heart!

Dave is all about human beings making human music.  This is what he meant in his comments at the Grammys last year, that got him in so much tepid water… and he’s right… people did not understand, and THAT is a major part of the problem.

What he said was that there was a lack of “human element” in contemporary music.  Watch his movie.  You’ll get it and you will agree with every fiber in your body.  If you want to have that “Ah Ha” Oprah moment of clarity… simply watch the film and look at the way people make music today and the way they did it then.  You’ll fuckin’ get it.

No one has an issue with technology, if it is being used to deliver the actual music that has been played and recorded.  It is all about letting music use the tools and not the other way around.  I loved how he pulled out his iPhone and said “I’m not Amish… the whole new Foo Fighters album is on this thing.”  How badly did we all want that phone at that moment?!

To Dave Grohl being a musician means knowing how to play an instrument, not the keyboard of a computer.  It means putting yourself in a studio with other musicians… other human beings… and allowing that connection, that interaction, to create true musical moments captured in time… and on tape!  Spontaneous, magical moments that can only happen during exploration and interaction and the ability to just fuckin’ play and let yourself go.

What do you think is more exciting… someone at home alone playing music by himself with drum tracks and machines, altering the way he sounds… fixing all the things that make him human… or sitting in a studio with live human beings, playing real live music?  Look, there has been some great music made with an artist alone in a cabin… Yeah Bon Iver, I am talking to you… but the best music is raw and immediate and grabs us by the balls and the throat and the heart… It shakes our booty and our soul.

You want to know what happens when tools use us?  Read some science fiction… Watch The Terminator.  It ain’t pretty.

This is what Dave meant.  This man has so much respect for musicians… so much so that he mentioned Sonic Youth on several occasions and made sure we knew, inside and out of that theatre, the debt he owes them.

This is part of the statement he made after all the brouhaha… Though after all his talk of the Budweiser brewery, perhaps it should be BREWhaha…

I found this on Rolling Stone.com… “I love ALL kinds of music,” Grohl said in a statement released earlier today. “Electronic or acoustic, it doesn’t matter to me. The simple act of creating music is a beautiful gift that ALL human beings are blessed with. And the diversity of one musician’s personality to the next is what makes music so exciting and . . . human.”

“I try really fucking hard so that I don’t have to rely on anything but my hands and my heart to play a song,” Grohl said. “I do the best that I possibly can within my limitations, and accept that it sounds like me. Because that’s what I think is most important. It should be real, right? Everybody wants something real.”

Folks, I have said this before… we are human BEings… so let us BE human.  Treat each other kindly, respect each other, love each other… Sit and have a conversation, spend time together.  It is not just real music going the way of the Dodo… it is civility and communication and human interaction.  The post office is on the verge of collapse because no one writes letters anymore… but incomplete and grammatically incorrect text messages, IMs and emails are on the rise.

Yes, the irony is you are reading this on-line… on your computer… but it is not the machine creating this… it is not the machine making up these words… Okay, yes, it is the machine spell checking them… but I am USING the tool to spread my creation, my art… using this technology to connect with you.  Would I rather do it in person?  Of course.  But here we are… and if this works… people from around the world are reading this and connecting with me.

Make art, make music, make love… creativity and collaboration will save the world.  So put down the damn computer (after you read this, of course) toss aside the auto tuner… and grab yourself a guitar.  Play those three chords… sing your heart out… inspire yourself and others… and along the way, you might just save the world… or at least a recording studio in Van Nuys, CA.


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Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me, One Thumb - My Movie Reviews

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