In the last few years, some of my favorite music documentaries have been about artists with whom I was barely familiar, if at all. Though I like the New York Dolls, I had never known too much about Arthur Kane until I saw the fascinating film, New York Doll. And Canadian metal-gods Anvil weren't on my radar (or anyone's, really) until the amazing Anvil: Story of Anvil was released in 2008.
Granted, I also loved The Devil and Daniel Johnston and We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen, so ignorance pertaining to the subject matter isn't the only criteria for being moved, surprised and delighted.
Perhaps that is why I'm enthusiastic about two upcoming documentaries. The first is about a band with whom I am familiar —and they're one of my favorites — The Magnetic Fields. Shot over a span of 10 years by co-director and close friend of the group, Gail O'Hara, the film will be the first view many of us have into the curmudgeonly and brilliant mind of Stephin Merritt. I talked to O'Hara today and MM will be able to provide an exclusive clip of the film in a few days!
The other doc I'm looking forward to is yet to be complete. In fact, all that exists right now is an extended trailer. Director Susanna Vapnek needs those ever-more-elusive film funds to arrive and help her complete the project. I, for one, hope that happens.
The documentary is called What A World and it's about Teenie Hodges. Heard of him? Neither had I, until a few years ago when I met him in San Francisco. But Hodges is someone any music fan should know, and his mark on music is undeniable.
Mabon "Teenie" Hodges is a guitarist and songwriter who hails from Memphis, TN. He played in the Hi Rhythm , the late-great producer Willie Mitchell's house band. So not only did Hodges play on a number of Hi Records' hits, he also penned many of Al Green's biggest selling songs. You know the tune "Take Me To The River?" Well, Hodges wrote it.
Vapnek and Hodges became close friends when she accompanied Catpower on The Greatest tour, of which Hodges was also a part.
Watch a clip from What A World below:
What a World 12/8 from Susanna Vapnek on Vimeo.
I'm always rooting for artists like Teenie Hodges to get their due.
And as for The Magnetic Fields, they have been heaped with plenty of praise, but there's so much yet to know.