"It's easier to bone the President's wife than to get a movie made." Ray Charles.

How a cult music book became a cult music documentary, and it only took ten years.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Going back to Memphis on Saturday. This is a bit of a conundrum, as I don't quite know what I'm doing when I get there, apart from filming a quite unusual recording session on Monday. Jerry McGill's last record, Lovestruck, was released in 1959, and he's recording something new Monday night with Jim Dickinson's sons Luther and Cody, in Sam Phillips Recording Services. I'm flying over to film a bit with Jerry before and after the session, just to see what happens. If you don't know who Jerry is you haven't seen Stranded in Canton, in which case just go to YouTube right now and find it - the whole movie's on there. If you have seen it you know he's the original rock'n'roll outlaw. No others I know of fulfil the criteria the way he does. I may write some more about this when I come back, if I come back. There's a lot could happen in the next few days.

A strange side effect of this shoot is that I'll be in Memphis just two days after Alex Chilton stepped off the planet. I wish I had something great to write about him here, but I never met the man. I saw him live, twice - once at the London Astoria with Big Star, putting his heart and soul into playing sides that he had often said he didn't believe in or enjoy playing any more. You'd never have known that to see him play. They were great. Next time was in Dublin, where - in the middle of a horrible break-up with somebody I thought I was deeply in love with - I brought the girl to see him do a solo show in Whelan's, my favourite Dublin venue. That was a frustrating and also mesmerising show, he was aware of the Big Star cultists making up most of his audience and enjoyed toying with them/us, and I just wanted this girl to see the magic in this man and understand why I'd brought her here. I don't think she got it and I can't blame her, it was an evening short on magic, but I'm glad I went. Afterwards we sat in the bar and had an awkward drink, knowing we were going home separately to separate beds. September Gurls played and I sang along, "I loved you, well, never mind - " but couldn't finish the line because it was too close to the bone, really. I don't remember anything more about that evening, but it came back to mind this morning when I heard the news, and remembered standing ten feet away from Alex as he refused, with a smile, to play my request, Let's Get Lost, instead responding "That's exactly what I plan to do." And then he left the stage, and didn't return.


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