Woody Allen had the good sense not to cast himself as Gil, the lead played by Owen Wilson in Allen’s latest gem, “Midnight in Paris.” But you can’t help but see Allen in the part as Gil walks around Paris with all the mannerisms, quips and angst of what Allen surely brought out in this excellent performance. “Midnight in Paris” is a film that is this year’s mid-summer classic.
Gil is a hack screenwriter trying to stretch into a novelist. Inez, played so beautifully by Rachel McAdams, is his fiancé. She’s brought along her parents on a pre-marriage trip to Paris. McAdams is as beautiful as the romantic shots of Paris that clip by in rapid fashion – and the fashions she wears are almost worth the ticket price just to see, let alone the clever plot, the great acting and the direction and pace that Allen has achieved.
As Gil declines the gay Parisian nights with Inez in favor of wandering the streets to find himself, he runs into all the writers and artists one can imagine from 1920s Paris. The “lost generation.” Here they are in living color: Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald (along with crazy wife, Zelda), Picasso and many more. Throw in Adrianna, played so beautifully by Marion Cotillard (from “La Vie en Rose” Academy Award fame) and then sit back and smile at Gil’s confused love for her, for Hemingway, and for what he’s got himself into each night at midnight as he’s picked up by a 1920s yellow cab – with the likes of t.s. eliot, Josephine Baker, Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds and others sitting inside.
Meanwhile, Inez is spending time with her friend’s boyfriend, her parents have put a detective on Gil’s trail, and Gil can’t seem to get enough of spending time with Dali, Gertrude Stein, Man Ray, Paul Gauguin – the list goes on and on.
It’s a mid-summer night’s dream. Check it out.
It’s difficult enough to come up with all-time favorites. There’s just so much music. But today while walking with the ipod plugged in, I picked up my step a little and smiled. It was the Doors playing “Light My Fire.” The thought crossed my mind then and there: this is the greatest rock song of all time.
Released in early 1967, “Light My Fire” was definitely different. What were we listening to in the months leading up to this all-time classic? The Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee,” the Monkees “Last Train to Clarksville,” and Bobby Darin’s “If I Were A Carpenter” to name a few. These weren’t bad songs; we liked them! But suddenly we heard Jim Morrison and band (Ray Manzerak, Robbie Krieger and John Densmore) and everything changed.
The song was originally seven minutes long – way too long for AM radio in those days. Songs could only be three minutes in length. So “Light My Fire” was released as a three-minute single. Those who bought the album “The Doors” found out that it was a seven-minute mind blower. And that album also included the 12-minute “The End” as well. Rock had taken a turn down a different road.
Later that year, “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by the Beatles came out and rock – and for that matter, music – would never be the same again. But there’s something about hearing those opening chords on the organ by Ray Manzarek on “Light My Fire” that simply define the word “classic.” And for me, “Light My Fire” is the all-time, number one classic in rock history.
What’s your number one?
Gruene, TX, June 13, 2011 – At Gruene Hall, it can often feel like you’re in somebody’s living room listening to an old friend play some guitar. Sometimes it feels like it could be your own living room. And here tonight, Guy Clark felt like that old friend, just playing guitar and singing songs – songs that he wrote and that have become classics that defy a time period.
It was a sold out show. It was hot – 100+ degrees in early June. We got there early to stand in line with hundreds of others just to get a good seat when the doors opened. I looked over at one point while standing in line on the sidewalk, hot and sweaty and with the people in front of me drinking Dox XX beer to try to keep cool, to see a golf cart scooting down the street and there sat Guy Clark himself. He was being carted around for some reason or another and I just happened to see him – smiling at the sight of so many who came to see him.
A little later, sitting about seven rows from the stage, I watched him walk onto center stage slowly (and his knee was obviously hurting because he had entered Gruene Hall during Amy Speace’s amazing opening act wearing a knee brace and walking with a cane). Verlin Thompson and Sean Kamp came on with him and sat on either side of the songwriting legend. And over the next two hours, the three played some songs – as Guy Clark characterized them in the opening segment: “We’re here to play some songs we wrote…and some we heard…” The audience chuckled…and the three guitarists played them well, seemingly virtuoso…with some mandolin and fiddle thrown in. Effortlessly. And it sounded like pure beauty.
Guy Clark is a master of the American songwriters elite. Early on in tonight’s set, he made you feel the pain behind, “If I could just get off of that LA freeway without getting killed or caught.” It was a classic song and a classic moment. “Like Desperados Waiting for a Train” rang true as well. The audience was relaxed, receptive, almost worshipful – but not so shy that they wouldn’t shout out favorites they wanted to hear. “Rita Ballou” someone shouted out. Clark’s eyes shot stage left and then out into the edges of the audience over by the windows – knowing the song and simply saying, “We’ll get to that one later.” And smiling, knowing they would. And they did.
He laughed too – trying to tune his guitar, trying to sing over the fans that blew onstage to help cool the sweltering heat. He laughed at himself as he got “hung up” as he described it while watching and listening as Kamp banged out a guitar solo later in the show.
“Old Friends” was especially meaningful this night to this crowd. That living room feeling, perhaps you’re sitting somewhere in West Texas at a friend’s house and picking tunes together on guitars…that’s the feeling I’ll remember from this night. “Old friends…shining like diamonds,” Clark sang joyfully. The crowd was with him, shining – each like an old friend.