Like a warped fun-house mirror, the song-poem industry has run parallel to the mainstream music business for close to a century; it's estimated that over 200,000 song-poems have been ... See full summary »
Like a warped fun-house mirror, the song-poem industry has run parallel to the mainstream music business for close to a century; it's estimated that over 200,000 song-poems have been recorded since 1900. The genre's durability can be traced to three of our deepest American desires - to be in show business, to get rich quick, and to share and express our deepest feelings. We meet several of the "songwriters" - from an elderly woman to a young African-American man to a small-town Iowan with big-time dreams - each of whom has been in the "business" for awhile, churning out odd compositions that cover the waterfront of American obsessions, from Jesus to genitalia, from politics to Elvis. We also meet the producers (often known as song-sharks) who hold out the tantalizing promise of fame to their eager customers, and the has-been musicians who sit in studios, day after day and year after year, interpreting some of the weirdest lyrics ever written. Through fellow musicians and his son, ... Written by
This film has a lot to say about America, and Americans, at their most sad and most hopeful.
The song poem industry can be taken as a metaphor for show business as a whole, or at least most Americans' relationship to it.
The most telling thing about the reactions from the aspiring songwriters is not that they feel ripped-off by cynical hucksters. In fact, they have the opposite reaction, mostly. They remain optimistic and continue to cradle the American Dream to their hearts. They're lovely people, and very, deeply American, even if you do want to slap them around so they wake up to reality. But then again, why shatter their dreams?
A highly, highly recommended documentary. Especially good for fans of popular music or record collectors.
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