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A Vision Shared A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly (1988)
*** (out of 4)
Robbie Robertson narrates this documentary/tribute that talks about the life and careers of both Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. I will admit that I'm not sure why these two great artists had to share a documentary but it's good for the viewer because we get some nice stories told about both but we also get some famous musicians here to pay tribute as well as cover some of their best songs. Some of those involved include Bruce Springsteen (Vigilante Man, I Ain't Got No Home), Pete Seeger (Alabama Bound), Little Richard (Rock Island Line), Arlo Guthrie & Emmylou Harris (Deportee), Harris solo (Bobo's Lyllaby), Willie Nelson (Goodnight Irene), Taj Mahal (Bourgeois Blues, Midnight Special), John Mellencamp (Do Re Mi), U2 (Jesus Christ) and the entire cast does a version of This Land is Your Land. Fans of both Guthrie and Leadbelly should enjoy this tribute. Die-hard fans probably aren't going to learn anything they don't already know but those knew to the legends will find both of their stories entertaining and the documentary at least gives those a great idea of who these men were. I was pleasantly surprised to see how excellent the tributes were. Often times there's a weak artist or two that don't do anything good with the material but that's not the case here as everyone really nails their parts. This is especially true of Nelson on Goodnight Irene and Taj Mahal on Midnight Special. Music fans should certainly check this out for the music as well as the stories.
I didn't like this "Vision Shared" because it's very different from the CD of the same name which I had enjoyed for years. First of all, this is not a concert film, but rather a compilation of clips of various entertainers in separate settings singing some of the songs on the CD. The trouble is that so many of the songs are talked over by the commentators that you can't enjoy the singing. A prime example of this is the beautiful "Hobo's Lullaby" that is performed by Emmilou Harris. Just as she gets into it, the narrator starts another round of commentary totally destroying the song. This happens throughout the documentary. Perhaps it is better for you if you aren't familiar with the famed CD of the same name. It might just make you want to go out and buy it after seeing this.
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