Twenty Feet From Stardom

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. It looks like we’re going to have a beautiful weekend. I think the Whiz O Meter has pegged Saturday as an “11”, even though the temperature range is from 34 to 64. Sunday is pegged as a “10” because, even though a high of 66 is closer to the optimum 70 degrees, there will be a cloud in the sky. I don’t know who is the bigger fool, Channel 11 for assigning days a value, like the knob of an amplifier, or me for following the fools who assign days a value, like the knobs of an amplifier.

Speaking of knobs on an amplifier, I took the opportunity to do a little band practice tonight with our band, The TackyOnes. It has been a stressful week, and there is nothing like turning up the amps to the mythical “11” in “Spinal Tap” and blowing out the stress through some power chords. We hold practice down at Axel Rhodes trailer in Number 24. That way we can point the amps towards the Chattahoochee National Forest. So far we’ve had no noise complaints from the wildlife living there. We do occasionally get complaints from the tenants about feedback. For some reason, feedback seems to be omnidirectional, and when we get a little too close to the mikes, we can emit an ear splitting discharge of sound. Hey, it happens to the best of them.

After practice, I came back to Number Two, showered, and headed to the Rec room for date night. Imagine my surprise to find that Mulva had pulled a documentary out of the Walmart $2.99 movie bin. Doubling that surprise was that the movie was about musicians, singers specifically, that spent their careers, “Twenty Feet From Stardom“. What a surprise, and a joy of a movie. The film takes a behind-the-scenes look at the world of backup singers. It  stars Darlene Love, Judith Hill, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Táta Vega, and Jo Lawry. Thrown in the mix are a lot of the stars that these folks were singing backup for, like Mick Jagger, Cheryl Crow, Sting, and Bruce Springsteen.

I guess Darlene Love was by far the most famous of the artists profiled. In addition to her singing, she also had a film career playing Danny Glover’s wife in the “Lethal Weapon” franchise. She was also a regular Christmas visitor on the Late Show. David Letterman apparently appreciated a good set of pipes. As good as Darlene Love is, I think the most impressive work shown in the film was Merry Clayton in the Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Shelter”. Clayton absolutely blew everyone off the stage, including Jagger. Talk about your great moments in rock history. It’s hard to not keep that song playing in your head for a few hours.

Anyway, the story is a great tribute to the people, who, while performing supporting roles, make the stars who they are. The movie also touches on the fact that being a successful backup singer is a very satisfying career. Not everyone wants to be a star, some folks just want to perform. The movie captured the heart and soul of the backup singers well enough to earn the best documentary Oscar for 2014. It looks like the film did very well at the box office and made a whole lot of money too. I hope the backups were cut in for a percentage of the profits, they certainly deserve a piece of the riches they help provide for others.

By all means check out “Twenty Feet From Stardom“. I think it’s on Netflix if you can’t find it in the $2.99 movie bin at your Walmart. Here’s a little taste.

Download PDF

Leave a Reply