Monday 12 December 2011

Bootlegs, Mistakes & Accidents

I've always loved the mistakes. So many of my favorite moments in movies tend to be the accidents they left in. They're the most real, and I usually spot them a mile off, as happened this week with 'Going The Distance'.

I guess it started with the radio. I was so in love with music that I'd sit there with cassettes and tape everything I liked. It's just that the sound quality was so bad, there was always interference. Months later I'd buy the clean record and I'd miss the interference.

Most of my favorite bands, I don't listen to their records. With Counting Crows, people remember 'Mr Jones' from the radio, but I remember the version from Woodinville 2001, or the Viper Room 1995.

At one time I was collecting bootlegs obsessively. Some guy would be muddled in with the crowd recording everything, and then weeks later you'd be laying on your bed listening to Springsteen or The Who, hearing all the mistakes, the cheers, the rare tracks.

The best artists have great albums, but it's the live stuff which really grabs you. And I never knew how bad the sound quality was. I'd make a friend listen to a track and they couldn't even hear it.

But that's what I love.

It carried over into film. I like imperfection, spontaneity, roughness. People try to do it as a 'style' but it's so false.

You can't plan it.

But sometimes you capture the weather, the moment, the insecurities of the actors -- little bits of realness that bleed out onto screen.

It's so hard to get, but occasionally you do.

It's like with blogging. I have no censor. No stop button. I let the words fall like rain, you get my off days and my on days. But when someone loves something from an off day, it's amazing, because you're more vulnerable when you give people access to the bad stuff. When they find value in it, you feel they really get you personally.

Ever heard Bob Dylan's 'Blood On The Tracks'? Or the outtakes sessions? It's his best stuff, and he just did it and disregarded it. Same for Springsteen when recording 'Darkness Of The Edge Of Town'. The discarded tracks were all genius.

'A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints' is one of my favorite movies. Listen to the director's commentary, Dito Montiel and the editor, Jake Pushinsky, continuously talk about doing things cause they 'felt right'. They kept in continuity errors and mistakes because they felt right. That's why I connected so strongly to it.

My favorite moments in 'Garden State' and 'Almost Famous' are mistakes. They're the moments that really let you in, where you make the human connection.

As I wrap this up I'm listening to 'I Will Be There When You Die' by My Morning Jacket. This version is so raw, you can hear the life around it, all the sounds you weren't meant to hear, but you do. And it's everything.

Care to share?


  1. I'm a sucker for a bootleg track as well... There's something missed when recorded on an album... sure the cut you hear is flawless, however.......The live stuff, always has an unyielding life to it... it's amazing.

  2. At all the most recent concerts I've been to, they sell an MP3 version of the show afterwards. I love this.