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Thursday, 10 February 2011

1974

"So leave us alone
So leave us alone
So leave us alone
We're busy being grown"
-Ryan Adams & Alanis Morissette - "1974" (live)


I first found this song in the middle of 2001. I loved music with all my heart. And I needed it too, because I was a miserable fuck back then. Music lets you know that other people are miserable too. Ryan Adams has a way of making misery an art. He makes it beautiful. When you feel the power of someone making misery into art, it's a big insight. It makes misery a good thing. You keep craving it, because it makes your writing better. It makes your singing real. It makes your movies profound.

This song was never recorded in a studio. It was only performed live, and only performed once. It's Ryan Adams, Alanis Morissette, and a piano. And it's luck that someone recorded it.

I was that geek who'd track down rare recordings. I was the kid getting old Springsteen obsessives to send me rare bootlegs in the post. It meant something back then. My friends were out drinking, I was sitting at home listening to Dylan rarities. It seemed sad at the time, or like I was deranged in some way. But it's me. It's those things that add up to make you who you are. I couldn't really say "I am the Kid In The Front Row, I go out drinking a lot and occasionally watch movies and sometimes like Springsteen." No, to be me, it was and is to love movies and music and creative things to the point of exhaustion. It's what I'm about.

This is the only recording of this song. I wonder if even Ryan Adams remembers it. Ryan is better at this than anyone -- at creating masterpieces in one evening and then moving on without ever looking back. The guy is the most prolific songwriter there is. He wrote a song called "Dear Anne" about Anne Frank; he recorded a demo, played it live about five times and broke everyone's hearts, and then he never played it again. Luckily the song survives on Youtube, too.


"1974" or whatever it was really called (not to be confused with another song he sang by the same name on an album); was about the two singers being born in the same year. They sing about themselves and they sing about each other. And I still don't totally get the song, but I love it. There's something remarkably simple, touching, meaningful, and beautiful about it. That's a lot of descriptive words, but it deserves them all.

It's amazing to me how they played it live, once, and that was it. Luckily it was recorded, and put on YouTube a while back for more people to love. It only has 12,000 hits. It'll never have more than 100,000. Music is great like that. Just like movies. What resonates resonates. How popular it is means nothing. I'll take my little Ryan Adams rarities over Lady Ga Ga or Black Eyed Peas any day.

A lot of screenwriters and directors have big ambitions; they wanna make Spiderman. They wanna make a billion dollars. I just want to make a Ryan Adams bootleg. Well, the equivalent. And don't get me wrong, Ryan Adams is successful and rich. But it's not because he's making radio hits -- he's just making his "1974" and "Dear Anne" - but people respond.

You find out who you are more and more by finding the things you love. And you lose a bit of yourself every time you pretend to love something more than you really do just to fit in and not seem different. There may only be nine people in the world who love these songs as much as I do -- but that's such a great and exciting thing! Imagine if one day I meet one!

"I want to thank you for your thoughts
Though they weren't mine to read
P.S. keep an eye on me."
-Ryan Adams - "DEAR ANNE"

Care to share?

4 comments:

  1. KITFR, have you read the big New Yorker article about screenwriter/director Paul Haggis yet? I found it disturbing, to say the least, and felt sorry for Haggis and others who have been duped by the Cult of Scientology. I wonder about your thoughts on Scientology and Hollywood. Perhaps you might blog about it?

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/02/14/110214fa_fact_wright?currentPage=all

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  2. Hey Nadya, thanks for the link. It's interesting.

    But I don't know what I'd say about it, if I was blogging. I mean, it all seems nuts to me -- but then, I could say that about any religion. When it comes to people's personal beliefs, I'm not just it's the place of a film blog to get involved, y'know? If I had something of journalistic value to say, then maybe; but all I really know is the stuff that I read and see; which is all anti-scientology stuff about how mad they are. I've not heard it from the scientology side (probably because I'm not interested).

    It's bizarre to me how intelligent people like Haggis get caught up in this stuff in the first place. But of course, it evidently has lots of perks for them as scientologists have links very high in the film industry. Would Haggis be as successful as he is now without the scientology fraternity? Probably not. But then, I say this like a gossip-merchant, based on all the stuff I hear in the media and on the internet.

    Fascinating, though. What are your thoughts on it?

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  3. Kid - Lady Ga Ga or Black Eyed Peas do not create magic or gems. These recordings are nothing short of both. Thank you for sharing this with the world. ;)

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  4. It's interesting - I knew that many actors were Scientologists but had no idea (until reading the article) that the organization was so heavily involved in the entertainment business.

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