Sunday, March 13, 2016

Romanticism in "La La Land" and "The Spectacular Now"

Summit Entertainment has announced that La La Land has been pushed back from its previously scheduled July 15 release date. Instead, Damien Chazelle’s modern-day musical will open Dec. 2 in limited release before going wide on Dec. 16. Chazelle, who scored an Oscar nomination for Whiplash, wrote and directed his musical love letter to the city of Los Angeles, starring Gosling and Stone as musician, Sebastian, and struggling actress, Mia. The two see each other as kindred spirits, only to find their blossoming relationship threatened by success. “There’s an incredible romanticism in L.A. that you don’t always see when you’re stuck in traffic on the 405,” Chazelle told EW about La La Land in December. “I wanted to make a big love letter to the city and focus on that push and pull that all young artists experience, between dreams and reality, which old Hollywood musicals are so good at expressing. I think there’s something poetic about that.” Source:

It’s strongly implied in the interview that the reason Miles Teller was no longer "creatively right" was that Whiplash became an Oscar winning film, thus making Chazelle and his films much hotter properties in Hollywood. The male lead in La La Land (which is the role we assume is being discussed) is now being played by Ryan Gosling, so that shows you a little how that went... Teller’s Whiplash co-star J.K. Simmons is also in it. Of course, it’s also possible that filming summer superhero movies and other more mainstream fare like the Divergent series also soured the director on him creatively. Source:

Miles Teller and Brie Larson starred in the indie darling The Spectacular Now, playing a high school's most popular couple (before Teller's character struck up a relationship with Shailene Woodley, of course). Miles decided to honor his former costar by throwing it back to that beloved flick. "I never should've let her break up with me in Spectacular Now!" he wrote on Twitter shortly after her big win. "Congrats @brielarson." Source:

As far as chemistry goes, no one showed more connectivity than Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, redefining high school romanticism through fears of commitment and embracing future unknowns. The Spectacular Now is a rare film that wears its colors on its sleeve, and sucks you into the world of Miles Teller’s character Sutter for a watch that could be classified as emotionally bi-polar. Source:

Shailene Woodley may steal the show, but there's no doubt that the film belongs to Miles Teller's Sutter. A good-time kid smarting from his breakup with his girlfriend and determined to live in an eternal present despite his half-assed attempts at filling out college applications, Sutter is also haunted by the absence of his father. The early scenes between the two lovers are among the film's finest, and the filmmakers smartly undercut the romanticism of many of these sequences by suggesting that even as Sutter is wooing Aimee, she still serves as a consolation prize for the ex he can't win back.

Unfortunately, the film then turns its attention primarily to the question of Sutter's parental inheritance, particularly the ways in which he either has been, or imagines he has been, shaped in both his alcoholism and his philosophy of living in the moment, by his absent father. It's a questionable turn for a movie that that, until that point, succeeded largely by avoiding this kind of easy psychologizing, instead unfolding as a series of sharply rendered interactions between young people trying to figure out their place in a world that exists beyond their fragile understanding. Source:

The reality is the idealist perspective of the man-child does not really hold up. James Ponsoldt's riveting "The Spectacular Now" humanizes the "man-child" and examines the origins and evolutions of this archetype. Sutter reacts to his environment without really giving it much thought. His decisions slowly reveal more about his desire to use his nonchalant nature as a defense for a fear of the world he desperately wants to avoid. Teller makes a star turn as Sutter. He's full of energy and his smile makes him a loveable character. His characterization tries to put up the front of the strong character and yet comes off as awkward and out-of-place. As his character descends, the smile dissipates behind an increasingly stern face that is wrestling to keep its emotions in check. 

The idyllic, carefree world of prom and high school is dominated by the complex and disappointing one inhabited by adults. Woodley is breathtaking in her turn as Aimee. Her timid and insecure nature is genuine and palpable, and her transformation, like Sutter's, is one of trial by fire. Ponsoldt and cinematographer Jess Hall utilize the long take to terrific effect in pivotal scenes; a powerful portrayal of the title's "Spectacular Now" if you will. A sex scene is filmed in a tight long shot that creates a powerful sense of intimacy but also reflects naturalism. Source:

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Miles Teller: Divergent, Whiplash, Bleed for This

"Allegiant" (2016) The latest episode of the Divergent sci-fi series suffers from over-elaborate production design, too much hardware and far too many special effects. It doesn't help that the plotting is so convoluted and so wayward. One moment characters are being dressed in "plasma" clothes to protect them from nuclear radiation, the next they are whirring through the sky in futuristic buggies. There are so many chases, fights and shoot-outs that the film-makers lose sight of the story they are trying to tell. 

Tris, Four and the other young heroes (including Miles Teller's still perfidious Peter) escape the city and take their chances in the toxic red desert beyond the wall. There, they encounter the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, as shadowy an organisation as its name suggests, run by the friendly but inscrutable David (Jeff Daniels). The Hunger Games combined dystopian political satire with teen drama in effective, coherent fashion – and it ended on a very strong note. By contrast, Divergent is losing its way. Some of the action scenes (notably the escape from Chicago and the scaling of the wall) are staged with energy but others are formulaic in the extreme. Source:

"When I first read Whiplash, I was feeling dead inside," Teller told W magazine of the film festival favorite, in which he is berated by his art college professor (J.K. Simmons) to become the next great name in jazz.

-Can you compare music to acting, in the sense of striving for perfection?

Miles Teller: What's similar - it's not a perfect medium. With actors, there are three performances: there's the one in their head they want to give, there's the one that they actually give, and there's the one they wish they gave. Every movie I finish, once I see it, I say: 'I could've done that.' You try and learn from it, and then with the next movie, you try and come back stronger and have a deeper, richer performance. The thing about acting, you're really just conveying the human condition… so you're always trying to understand yourself more and understand other people more and understand emotions more. It's a never-ending excavation process. Source:

Miles Teller: "Photo shoots are so weird. I hate them." Next up is Bleed for This, in which he will play the world champion boxer Vinny Pazienza who survives a car crash only to learn he might never walk again, before going on to make an inspirational comeback. It’s a plotline not entirely unfamiliar to the actor, who survived a near-fatal car crash in 2007, which left him with multiple scars on his face and neck. Source:

"Bleed for This": Miles Teller stars as champion boxer Vinny Pazienza who makes an improbable comeback after a near-fatal car crash breaks his neck. Ben Younger ("Boiler Room") wrote and directed this movie, which prompted a bidding war last year after a 12-minute promo reel was shown to distributors. (Fall 2016) Source:

Monday, March 07, 2016

Hitchcock's films, "Whiplash": masterpieces of performance anxiety

“The 39 Steps” is a 1935 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll. Several of the particularly Hitchcockian-features in the film include his us of the “icy, blonde female” as a leading character and his own participation in the film. The film was the first Hitchcock film based upon the idea of an “innocent man on the run,” such as Saboteur and North by Northwest. Scholars of his films regard this film as one of his best variations upon this particular theme. In 1999 it came in 4th in a BFI poll of British films and in 2004 Total Film named it the 21st greatest British film of all time.

This will be the first of four major Hitchcock films shown by FOLA this month to demonstrate the character and growth of the great director’s talent. It will feature a brief introduction to Hitchcock by film expert Rick Winston who will discuss the evolution of Hitchcock’s craft, his favorite themes, his relationship with his collaborators, and his wry sense of humor no matter how grisly the subject matter. Mr. Winston is coming to Ludlow for this event courtesy of the Vermont Humanities Council.

Following this film, FOLA will be featuring three other great Hitchcock movies: March 12, “Rebecca;” March 19, “Vertigo;” and March 26, “The Birds.” Source:

François Truffaut’s besottedness (like that of his pals Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol) came out of a cinematic intelligence. First truth: there is more to Hitchcock than meets the eye and ear. (Don’t forget the ear. The train whistle in The 39 Steps, the tolling bell in Vertigo, the “Knife . . . knife” speech in Blackmail). Second truth: that “more” is expressed, nonetheless, through overwhelmingly eye-and-ear means. Sound, picture, symbol; juxtaposition of images; pure cinema. Not screeds of dialogue. Not star mummers mugging away. Not bestselling novels made box office.

What I came to sense and love in Hitchcock is this. He goes through the looking-glass. His films are about “ordinary” men or women travelling into mirror-world projections of themselves. His main characters think their adventures are taking them into another reality. But it isn’t. It’s their reality made large or oneiric. It’s an impish, punishing, cathartic reflection of their own personalities, fears, guilts, dreams. A journeyman would have made these shots zooms: quick, showy, pragmatically dramatic. Instead they have an organic, living feel — shot/reverse shot with a travelling camera —. A locked mystery is scary; a mystery about to be unlocked is scarier. Source:

Neyman (Miles Teller), like many a protagonist in pursuit of greatness, is asked to sacrifice for his own success. First to go is his dignity, as he absorbs Fletcher’s incessant barrage of insults, straying far from his drumming ability to his mother’s abandonment, and, most painfully, his father’s utterly average existence.  Shot by Sharone Meir, the exteriors, primarily lit in sickly greens, and reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s city paintings, depict a metropolis full of isolation. Even shots of the entire band tend to zoom in on Neyman, very rarely is the ensemble shown to share the frame. This is in part because Neyman either ignores or disdains all of his fellow musicians. The movie’s few interactions with those outside of the band act as critiques of Neyman’s closed-mindedness with varying results. 

For instance, his unapologetically brusque jilting of a nervous out-of-towner (Melissa Benoist) and his inability to win her back indicate the costs of his self-centeredness, self-aware as it may be. Other scenes are less interesting and feel more perfunctory, like an obligatory dinner scene with small-town cousins who just don’t get it. Source:

While most will rightfully be heralding Simmons as Whiplash‘s biggest asset, it is Teller who ultimately impresses the most. Chazelle presents most of the film in tight close ups of Andrew Neiman’s face, the majority of the time no words are even spoken to convey the tone of the scene — but with an apparent effortlessness Teller translates what he is suffering through to the audience without a word. The vacuum created by the lack of music in certain scenes also works amazingly to emphasize the loneliness and isolation of Andrew Neiman’s quest for greatness.

David Chazelle’s Whiplash is simply put, a masterpiece of performance anxiety. Whiplash‘s unflinching electricity will have you so tense in your seat, when the credits roll the impact will leave you both inspired and sore for days to come. Source:

David Chazelle: I think there’s a certain amount of damage that will always have been done. Fletcher will always think he won and Andrew will be a sad, empty shell of a person and will die in his 30s of a drug overdose. I have a very dark view of where it goes. That should have been a postscript at the end of the movie, “And at 30, he dies of a drug overdose.” It’s his funeral. And Fletcher is there. He gives the eulogy. “That ungrateful fucking brat.” Source:

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Hitchcock's favorite "Shadow of a Doubt": Teresa Wright's authoritative performance

“The world’s a hell! What does it matter what happens in it?” -Joseph Cotten as Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Shadow Of A Doubt (1943) - Alfred Hitchcock’s own favorite movie is far from the flash of his later great efforts. It doesn’t have show-stopping moments like the airplane attack in North By Northwest, the psychological pinwheels of Vertigo, or Psycho’s shower scene. But in a way, it’s more terrifying than any of those, because it points to a menace closer to home and heart.

Charlie’s dad and his friend (Hume Cronyn, in his film debut) read crime magazines and speculate on murder methods as a hobby, because the actual thing seems so far-removed. Uncle Charlie’s bleak sentiments that “The world is a foul sty… If you ripped the fronts off houses you’d find swine” are not unlike the theme that David Lynch would pull off in the first few moments of Blue Velvet, decades later: the perfect small-town landscape, hiding a festering ear underneath. Hitchcock isn’t that graphic here, but he doesn’t need to be: You may want to scratch the surface of boring paradise, but you may not be ready for what you might find there. Uncle Charlie suggests the evil lurking in each of us. It was one of Hitchcock’s favorite themes, and Shadow Of A Doubt translates it like no other film. Source:

While World War II raged and an allied victory was far from certain, Hitchcock and his writers constructed one of the cinema’s indisputable masterworks on the nature of evil. In this regard, Shadow of a Doubt could indeed be called a film about what theologians call original sin—a condition of selfishness, a conviction about a basically imperfect world, country, family, individual—radically incomplete, virtually defined by its need of transformation, of redemption. There is a direct, relentless moral honesty about this film, which stands as one of Alfred Hitchcock’s clearest statements about the ambiguity of the human condition.

Teresa Wright had been most enthusiastically recommended to Hitchcock by Thornton Wilder, who was chosen to write the screenplay for Shadow of a Doubt because the story was in many ways the dark underside of Our Town. The film charts the girl’s moral education as she progresses from innocence and untested idealism to a firsthand experience of the eruption of evil amid everyday reality—and the murderous tendency to depravity that is latent in human nature. 

Teresa filmed her role calmly, but inside she was, perhaps for the first time, tearing herself to pieces, enduring a nervous stomach and losing weight while, under Hitchcock’s tutelage, she thought out every moment of her character’s abrupt introduction to the darkness in human nature: “I had to understand how this woman felt. There’s no place you can go with cardboard, no depth.” Despite her anxiety, Teresa offered a virtual textbook in the art of film acting. “The shots of Wright,” wrote the novelist and critic Stephan Talty, “have the raw power of those early silent close-ups, one of the most lucidly beautiful in the cinema.” 

Teresa did not portray young Charlie as the killer’s victim, but—after her initial romantic infatuation for her uncle is destroyed by knowledge of his crimes—she plays young Charlie as his challenger, his rival. Hitchcock only rarely had a good word to say about actors, and he usually kept a polite distance from them. But he was uncharacteristically lavish in his praise: “I got along very well with Teresa. If she can’t act a line in a script, there’s something wrong with the line.” When Shadow of a Doubt was released in January 1943, the consensus was that the movie had succumbed to mediocrity; seventy years later, Shadow of a Doubt is rightly deemed a masterwork of the cinema. 

But even at the height of World War II, the critics applauded Teresa Wright. Howard Barnes of the New York Herald-Tribune commended her “quietly authoritative performance that elevated the film into a screen classic.” This was neither the first nor last time that a Hitchcock masterwork was overlooked for an industry award. In addition, many moviegoers, then and later, could not comprehend the absence of Teresa Wright’s name from the list of nominations for best actress of the year 1942. -"A Girl's Got to Breathe: The Life of Teresa Wright" (2016) by Donald Spoto

For the first time since his early years in Britain, Hitchcock, a director famous for his use of controlled sets, was forced to shoot on location to limit his set budget. At the same time, Hitchcock’s mother was gravely ill; restrictions on international travel prevented him from visiting her, and she died that September. An argument could be made that the prolonged illness and eventual death of Hitchcock’s mother during the shoot offered the filmmaker a certain sentimentality toward the Newton home in the film, which makes Uncle Charlie’s potential interruption of that familial unity all the more dreadful.

Hitchcock’s vision of Anytown, USA looks and feels like a Norman Rockwell painting for the Saturday Evening Post. Santa Rosa is gorgeous, clean, and intentionally corny, almost to the point of satire. Hitchcock's combination of stages and actual locations—his signature brand of cinematic realism—further emphasizes a world not entirely real and not completely safe. Hitchcock typically used master shots of actual locations, often landmark sites, which were later incorporated with sets replicating the locale. On Shadow of A Doubt, the only major set-piece was a replica of the Newton house, which could be taken apart and moved to fit the director’s needs for off-kilter camera angles that represented the distorted world of the film. Source:

“Shadow of a Doubt,” Alfred Hitchcock’s sixth American film, is not nearly as well known as some of the earlier, British films—“The 39 Steps,” “The Lady Vanishes”—or such later American masterpieces as “Strangers on a Train,” “Rear Window,” and “Vertigo.” Perhaps the quiet domestic setting of Santa Rosa and the lack of obvious camera flourishes account for the movie’s relative obscurity, and yet the somnolent town is treated with a tenderness that can only be called ironic and even malicious, and Hitchcock’s use of the camera has never been more assured. The movie is the most “psychological” of Hitchcock’s films, and the one with the clearest and most explicit exposition of evil, yet the director’s attitude is profoundly ambivalent. Goodness can be terrifying, too, and its collusion with evil is part of the movie’s enduring fascination. Source:

It was the stultifying routine of the household that depressed Charlie. But more troubling was the lack of love. Incest is the obscure subtext of Shadow of a Doubt. Emma worships Charles, but dismisses her husband as inconsequential. Charles, in giving the ring to his niece, seems to be taking her hand in marriage. By entering their home, Charles has perverted it, Joe's acquiescence allowing the seeds of destruction to be sown. Even with Uncle Charlie dead, a slow annihilation seems inevitable. -"An Illumined Illusion: Shadow of a Doubt" (2007) by Ian C. Bloom

Thursday, February 25, 2016

"Brooklyn" is Oscar-worthy, romantic clips

"One day the sun will come out, you might not even notice straight away, it will be that faint. And you will catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past. Someone who’s only yours. And you’ll realize that this is where your life is." -Eilis Lacey in Brooklyn

Brooklyn (2015) CLIP - "I Wanna Ask You Something" - Saoirse Ronan & Emory Cohen

"Inwardness is a great challenge for filmmakers. The human face is a wall as well as a window. Words lose their power. Ronan uses everything - her posture, her eyebrows, her breath, her teeth, her pores - to convey a process of change both seismic and subtle. Eilis is in transit, and to some degree in limbo, caught between two stages of life. By the end of Brooklyn she is no longer who she was, even as she seems like someone we always knew." -A. O. Scott

"The magic of Brooklyn can’t be analyzed, but something in the richness of its relationships puts an essential truth before us — the brevity and immensity of life. We know all about that, of course, but that’s the beauty of great art: It takes what you already know and makes you feel it." -Mick LaSalle

One film that doesn’t appear to be given much of a shot to walk away with the trophy is Brooklyn, which is a shame. Maybe it won’t win, but here’s why it should: Brooklyn isn’t the showiest film in the list of best Oscar nominees. We’re talking about a subtle, understated picture that’s quietly moving and full of meticulous period detail that fully immerses the viewer in the world of 1950s New York City.

Everything in Brooklyn revolves around Saoirse Ronan, and her Eilis is simply one of the most nuanced, fully rendered characters of the year. At the beginning of the film, she is quiet and mousey and shy, browbeaten by her evil witch of a boss in a small Irish grocery, a passive character with little to no self-determination. You scarcely see the change, until she returns to Ireland and you realize that she is an entirely different person than she was when she left. What Saoirse Ronan delivers is easily the best performance in a young, but already remarkably accomplished career, and she may very well be deserving of her own Oscar. 

While Saoirse Ronan is the star around which the rest of the galaxy of Brooklyn revolves, the unsung MVP is Emory Cohen, playing Tony Fiorello, the Brooklyn Dodgers-obsessed son of Italian immigrants, and Eilis’ love interest. Goofy and sweet, he could easily have fallen into a one-note, nice-guy role, but he brings a charm and great depth and emotion to what could have otherwise been a flat supporting turn.

Tony provides something that pulls her back, that makes her decision less simple and cut and dried. Without what he brings to the character, the key choice at the center of Brooklyn wouldn’t carry the weight it does. Regardless of how many, if any, trophies it takes home, Brooklyn is a movie that you need to take the time to see and that will continue to hold up over the years. Source:

By contrast with Horatio Alger’s ambition-driven male heroes, Eilis’ passive attitude initially makes her a difficult character to identify with. One night, asked to escort a new tenant to the church dance, Eilis meets Tony (Cohen), a working-class plumber with a thing for Irish girls. He’s the kind of guy Marlon Brando managed to capture the year prior in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and though the role lacks Tennessee Williams’ complexity, Cohen seems no less committed in his Method-like intensity than Brando did. Tony may be a tough Italian, but he’s fallen head-over-heels for Eilis, waiting for her outside her accounting-school night classes and putting everything on the line the first time he professes his love, or the moment he takes her to Long Island to survey what could be their future home. Source:

Tony’s vulnerability and need are truly precious things, lifted from Tóibín’s warm sketch and made tenderly unforgettable in Cohen’s hands. This actor previously made a bold, riskily irritating impression as Bradley Cooper’s teenage junkie son in The Place Beyond the Pines. Anyone who wrote him off as one-note or mannered there needs to see the whole freeform sonata he plays with this part – he seems to live and breathe the role of a tough-for-show romantic, a shyly persistent and ardent young guy whose future Eilis may or may not want part of.

The baby-step ascent of his expectations is Brooklyn’s secret weapon as storytelling. When Eilis offers him the prim, throwaway gift of two further dates at the pictures, not just the one, the surge of hope and dumbstruck joy on Cohen’s face could light up every matinee screen in the land. Source:

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Revolutionaries gone too soon: Kurt Cobain, John Lennon, Buddy Holly

Kurt Cobain: “I like the Beatles, but I hate Paul McCartney. I like Led Zeppelin, but I hate Robert Plant. I like the Who, but I hate Roger Daltrey. Sometimes I wish I had taken the Bob Dylan route and sang songs where my voice would not go out on me every night.” -Roy Trakin: ‘How about Iggy and the Stooges? Velvets? Lou Reed?’ -Kurt Cobain: ‘Oh yeah, definitely. Some of my favorite music.'”

Kurt Cobain: “John Lennon was definitely my favorite Beatle. I don’t know who wrote what parts of what Beatles songs, but Paul McCarrney embarrasses me. Lennon was obviously disturbed. So I could relate to that. And from the books I’ve read — and I’m so skeptical of anything I read, especially in rock books — I just felt really sorry for him. To be locked up in that apartment. Although he was totally in love with Yoko and his child, his life was a prison. That’s the crux of the problem that I’ve had with becoming a celebrity. John Lennon has been my idol all my life but he’s dead wrong about revolution… find a representative of gluttony or oppression and blow the motherfuckers [sic] head off.”

Kurt Cobain: “The other day I was driving around in L.A. listening to a college station. They were playing a lot of my favorite bands, like Flipper and The Melvins. I was saying to myself, This is great. And then the DJ came on and went on this half-hour rant about how Nirvana is so obviously business oriented and just because we have colored hair doesn’t mean we’re alternative. And I felt really terrible. Because there is nothing in the world I like more than pure underground music. And to be shunned by this claim that just because you are playing the corporate game you are not honest! You use [the corporate ogre] to your advantage. You fight them by joining them.” Source:

Any time a great artist dies young and unexpectedly, as fans we often spend our own remaining years wondering what would’ve been, had they just stayed with us longer. Previous generations mourned rockers like Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and John Lennon, while those who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s had our own fallen heroes – from metal gods like Ozzy Osbourne virtuoso Randy Rhoads and Metallica‘s Cliff Burton to Sublime‘s Bradley Nowell, Blind Melon‘s Shannon Hoon and of course, Kurt Cobain. The Nirvana frontman and grunge icon would’ve turned 49 today had he not allegedly committed suicide in 1994, and his legacy continues to burn brightly more than two decades after his passing. Source:

Buddy Holly was a pioneer and a revolutionary. What has always set his persona apart from others in the rock 'n' roll pantheon is its air of maturity, sympathy and understanding. In the few hectic months of his heyday, between 1957 and 1959, he threw back the boundaries of rock 'n' roll, gave substance to its shivery shadow, transformed it from a chaotic cul-de-sac to a highway of infinite possibility and promise. The truth is that Buddy Holly’s talent developed at a speed that makes the maturing of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, half a dozen years later, seem slow by comparison. As a songwriter, performer and musician, Holly is acknowledged as the progenitor of virtually every world-class rock talent to emerge in the sixties and seventies: The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan... —"Rave On: The Biography of Buddy Holly" (2014) by Philip Norman 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Buddy Holly: The Last Day of a Rock Legend

Honoring the 57th anniversary of the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens. It provides three radio promos recorded by the artists themselves that advertise their last tour. Then, two newscasts of the plane crash that happened on Feb. 3, 1959 during that same tour.

BUDDY HOLLY KILLED IN UNEXPLAINED PLANE CRASH: On this day in 1959, rock and roll legend Buddy Holly was killed when his plane slammed into an Iowa cornfield in a blinding snow storm. Ritchie Valens and disc jockey "The Big Bopper" died with him. They were in the middle of the "Winter Dance Party" tour, flying to their next date in Minnesota. No one is exactly sure what went wrong.

Holly may be best known for his iconic black-framed glasses, which were chosen for the singer by optometrist J. David Armistead. Armistead later went on to serve as a board member at the University of Houston. Those same glasses were among the items that went missing in the plane crash, until they were found in a Mason City, Iowa cornfield on February 29, 1980. Holly's glasses and a number of other artifacts are now on display at the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas. Source: Eyewitnessnews

The Last Day: A look at the final day of a Rock n' Roll legend.

Bill Griggs: Ellis Amburn ("Buddy Holly - A Biography") and Philip Norman ("Buddy Holly – Rave On") came to me within a few months of each other. They each received the same information available at that time. When their respective books were published, it seemed they wrote about two different people. How can that be? By the way, Amburn's book really belongs in the trash can. Still the best overall read in my opinion is the one by John Goldrosen. Philip Norman had access to much of the newly discovered paperwork from Clovis. Larry Lehmer discovered some brand new facts. Amburn was interviewed on English radio shortly after it came out. He was asked what places he went to in Lubbock and who he talked to. His reply was, "I didn't go to Lubbock." So where and how did he get his information?

Lance Monthly: The Boston rock ‘n’ roll riots in 1958, which came about from the reported violence at one of Alan Freed’s shows, not only led to the decline of Alan Freed himself, but the damnation of rock ‘n’ roll with FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover leading the charge. What are your thoughts on this?

Bill Griggs: Alan Freed took the dive for Boston, and shouldn't have. He ultimately left New York, and after gigs in Florida and California, found himself totally out of work. He died, they say, of a broken heart. Did payola kill rock 'n' roll, as we knew it? Probably. The whole era was exciting because, musically, we had all those independent producers and record labels and almost anyone with a good song--and some with bad songs--could get a record released. After payola, this sorta changed and the majority of those independent producers and labels all but disappeared. The movie "American Hot Wax" really captured the feeling of an Alan Freed concert and a great quote came out of that movie. When the police were trying to shut down his concert, Tim McIntire (as Alan Freed) stated, "You can stop the concert. You can stop me... but you can't stop rock 'n' roll. Don't you know that?"

Lance Monthly: Did you have a chance to meet and interview Waylon Jennings before he passed away? What was your impression of him, and why did Holly pick him to play bass on his final tour when it seems that he could have easily found a musician with better bass skills?

Bill Griggs: I knew Waylon and we got along just fine. Each time we'd talk about Buddy, a smile would come over his face, and then he'd get serious. You see, after all those years had gone by, he still fondly remembered his mentor--the person who really believed in him. I was talking to Waylon in 1979 just before he gave a concert in Lubbock. I asked him if he was going to sing his song "Old Friend" that mentions Buddy. He got very serious, then his tears welled up and he said, "Bill, if I did that, I wouldn't be able to get past the first verse."

Lance Monthly: In Ellis Amburn’s Holly biography, he states that when Ed Sullivan invited Holly back for a third appearance on Ed’s show for double the pay, Buddy refused because of Sullivan’s "wrecking of "Oh Boy" during his previous appearance. What are your thoughts on this?

Bill Griggs: Although I have many problems with things that Mr. Amburn wrote, this part is true. When Buddy and his group was in rehersal for his second appearance on January 26, 1958, Ed Sullivan told him that the show was going to run long and Buddy would have to do only one song. Sullivan then informed Buddy that "Oh Boy" was "too raunchy" and that Buddy should do something else. Buddy told Ed Sullivan that he had promised his friends back home that he'd do "Oh Boy," so it would be that song or nothing. Ed Sullivan introduced Buddy as Buddy Hollard. To get even, during the break of the song, Buddy and the guys double-timed their playing and played as loud as they could. What you don't see is what happened as soon as the song was completed and the Crickets exited the stage. The camera went back to Ed Sullivan and he was mad! He looked as if he had swallowed a bird. The Ed Sullivan staff did call Buddy about making a third appearance and he said no. When they called back, Buddy was offered double the money for a third appearance. Buddy angrily said something like, "I don't need you or your show" and hung up. Source:

“There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t play my Buddy Holly's songs.” —Keith Richards, “Buddy Holly: Rave On” DVD

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Buddy Holly "Because I Love You" video

Buddy Holly "Because I Love You" video: soundtrack "I'm gonna love you too", "Love is Strange", "Dearest", "Because I Love You".

Buddy Holly was the first of the dead rock stars. Had it been Elvis Presley in that plane, the pop world would have been shaken to its core, but would it have been so surprised? Holly was almost the anti-Elvis. Holly had the demeanour of the boy next door, which is what made his death so truly shocking. There was no brooding foreboding in his music, which breathed with rhythmic zing, melodic air. He was innocence crushed, potential stamped out. Holly is such a compelling figure of tragedy because he embodies the terrible truth that death comes to everyone. 

Holly was the first complete artist in the modern way. There is almost nothing to the lyric of Peggy Sue, yet his variations are like a comedic dare, constantly returning to the core phrase to invest it with another level of desire.

Bob Dylan was hugely inspired by Holly, catching a glimpse of his own possible future in this small-town geek. In American Pie, Don McLean characterised the plane crash as the day the music died, but really, it is what has kept the music alive. Eternally fixed in his first surge of creative brilliance, Buddy Holly raves on for ever. Source:

Paul Westerberg & others remembering Buddy Holly: Seeds were sown in a frozen corn field in Iowa and reaped in Northern England. Buddy Holly was a crack-up, a rocker, a goof, an oddball Texan. He stood up to the industry during a time in which everyone else laid down. In the final moments of a 1957 interview, Buddy Holly responds: "I'd prefer singing somethin' a little more quieter anyhow." You can almost hear him smile as he says it. In the reserved tone of his answer, we hear this young man honestly and softly proclaiming what anyone can hear in the undying warmth of his recordings: Buddy Holly was meant to sing the true love song. You know, most of the rock 'n' roll that came out had that sort of Dionysian, sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll image, or that tone that was about danger, and all that Buddy Holly stuff was way more about vulnerability. Because it wasn't music that was built on self destruction, it probably would've been quite limitless what he could've done. You didn't have to have a very high reading level to understand Buddy Holly's music. Yet, it was brilliant, and it evoked emotions. I think that's the best thing about any music: that it evokes emotion. Source: