The Universe and Me

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Images of broken light which dance before me

Movie: Across the Universe. A visual and auditory masterpiece. Vibrant, stunning, trippy, and creatively crafted by the perhaps brilliant director Julie Taymor. B might have called her a genius. Not to take anything away from her or the actors who performed spectacularly, but there were things I couldn’t help wondering as someone who lived through the majority of the 1960s. First, B and I were singing along and using the same inflections and nuances that the Beatles did, which the actors did not. Especially the high notes. Where was the scream at the beginning of “Revolution”? Where was Shakespeare at the end of “I am the Walrus”? (Granted, they did have background talking, but it was far from King Lear.) The word died in “Oh Darling” isn’t died, it’s “dieieieieied.” (Or similar.) I could list probably a hundred more examples but won't. And “While my Guitar Gently Weeps” was just painfully slow.

Second, is it possible to think of those songs not in terms of what was happening at the time they were written and released when you’re as ancient as me? For example, can “Dear Prudence” be about anyone besides Prudence Farrow? Thirdly, not lastly, but I’ll stop there so as not to sound like I’m slagging off the film, the singers seemed to sing the songs, and just that. (See above, lack of Beatles nuances.) This seems to be a plague of today’s commercial music. Lack of putting one’s soul and guts into a song. No substance. Just notes. The exceptions being Dana Fuchs who played Sadie (and who could step right into any Joplin biopic), Joe Cocker (who always puts everything he has into a song), and Bono. So, watch it and enjoy it for what it is, but buy the Beatles albums.


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