understand this movie. I was a big fan of folk music, still am.
Starting with The Kingston Trio in the Ď50s and throughout the
Ď60s, I listened to, and liked them all.
The music was captivating, the performers talented.
Melodic, great lyrics, wonderful rhythms, whatís not to like?
Thatís why this
movie is so mystifying. Itís
a ďmockumentary,Ē a self-styled parody about a group of fictional Ď60s
folk singers who are getting together for a retrospective concert.
But the classic of this youthful genre, This is Spinal Tap, made fun
of things that were there to be made fun of.
This makes fun of things that never were.
It tries to picture the writers and performers of folk music as naÔve,
untalented squares. Woody
Guthrie a square? Bob Dylan a square? The
Smothers Brothers squares? I
donít think so. Just think for a minute of the great folk artists of the
Ď50s-Ď70s; The Byrds, The Highwaymen, New Christy Minstrels, Bud and
Travis, The Weavers, Pete Seeger, Peter Paul & Mary, The Mommas and the
Poppas, Joni Mitchell, The Brothers Four; I could go on and on.
And the great music! Turn!
Turn! Turn!, Lemon Tree, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, Greenfields, Both Sides
Now, the list is almost never-ending.
Christopher Guest just doesnít know what heís talking about here.
The music, which seems to have been originally written for the movie,
contains lyrics that are, to give them the best of it, inane.
To the contrary, writers of folk music have always had their message.
Their lyrics have a point. Generally
they contain sharp political commentary or tell a story.
Why does Guest want to diminish such message songs as Blowiní In
The Wind and Thereís Something Happening Here, or songs that tell a
history like Creeque Alley, or patriotic songs like This Land is Your Land,
and many, many others by trying to paint all folk music with the wide swath
of the vacuous lyrics he foists upon us in this movie? Is he just nescient? Is
he irresponsible and going for a cheap laugh? Or is he intentionally trying
to belittle, even slander, folk music and its artists? Whatever his motives, this movie is the cheapest of shots,
made without any discernable reason other than greed.
Whoís he basing
these characters on? Nobody in
the picture correlates to anyone in real life of whom I am aware.
I didnít recognize a parody of anybody I knew in the heyday of
folk. One character, a guy
whose brain had apparently been melted down by excessive drug usage and who
could barely talk coherently, could have been based on Brian Wilson of The
Beach Boys. The only problem is
that Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys did not write or sing folk music
(well, they did have a hit with Sloop John B, but Wilson didnít write it,
and he recorded it as an homage to The Kingston Trio, who also had a version
of it with a different arrangement). Director
Guest tries to create a picture of all the great folk artists as naÔve
airheads. Nothing could be
further from the truth.
I just donít
understand this movie or the reason it was made (well, greed,
irresponsibility, and ignorance come to mind).
Itís not that you canít laugh or find something amusing about
folk music. That, after all,
was what The Smothers Brothers were about. This has some mildly amusing
lines but they donít make sense because the entire film is so off target.
If Guest wanted to attack Folk Music, he could have made fun of the
political points of view. But
to try to paint the artists as dopes and the music as lame is just dead
wrong. If you donít know
anything about folk music, or donít like it, youíll probably find this
amusing. If you are a fan, as I
am, The Mighty Wind is misleading, inaccurate, and reprehensible.
I loathe the lack of integrity that went into making it and the
dearth of respect and consideration for the many talented artists it libels.
May 3, 2003