Thursday, May 5, 2011

It Might Get Loud

It Might Get Loud (Davis Guggenheim, 2009) Between making An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for 'Superman', (and the occasional tv work like the pilots for "The Defenders," filmmaker Davis Guggenheim did one for fun: It Might Get Loud, a summit, if you will, of three electric guitar afficianados, Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack WhiteThe axe-men were brought together to talk, but as Page wryly notes "there will be guitars there, so who knows?"  What's interesting about the documentary and hearing them three men talk is their completely different approaches to using the electric guitar: for Page, it's technique; for The Edge, it's technology; for White, it's breaking it down to the bare essentials.  All three do things nobody else does with the electric guitar, approaching the instrument with a completely different mind-set, as writers approach a piece of paper.

It reduces them to human beings, all capable of greatness, but not fathoming where each gets it ("I can't tell you what a 'process' is" says Page at one point): to see the unbridled love in the eyes of The Edge and White as they watch Page play the opening to "Whole Lotta Love," how Edge intensley scrutinizes White's fingering during a jam session, all three's tales of creative crises—Page's dissatisfaction with studio sessions, Edge's dealing with writing the "War" album, White, how to create a blues aesthetic in a world of "packaged" music and bands.

And it is fun to watch them eye each other and tell tales and compare notes, artisans and students all.  My favorite moments are with White, whose work I kniow the least and who always veers precipitously close to the edge of pretension: the first opens the film as he builds a guitar out of scrap wood and a pick-up; the second, is in the extras, and has Page and Edge ask about a particular riff that White wrote for "Seven Nation Army" and White tells the tale of how he socked it away "if I was going to write a James Bond theme song or something."  But Edge wants to know how he did it, and when White tells them, the other's eyes go wide with the simplicity of it, and both have to try it.  Then, they all riff, finding possibilities.  "That'll be five dollars," White cracks.

I'm not a musician, but I appreciate musicianship, and I have no particular interest in electric guitars, but I like good stories told by good people.  And It Might Get Loud sure is fun.


Phil said...

I quite enjoyed this review and film and I love your comment ==> "I'm not a musician, but I appreciate musicianship" I always believed that 'those who couldn't play engineered' It worked for me.

Yojimbo_5 said...

I mostly made that comment to show that the film would be enjoyable to someone who doesn't study fingering and chords. I had fun watching it and admired it.

Phil said...

this is one I watched recently which knocked me on my @ss. I wasn't familiar with Glenn Gould but I went out and bought a few cds after watching this documentary. If you can get a chance to watch, you'll appreciate.