Friday, January 30, 2009

You Can't Write a Song

It's a damn shame that the documentary on R. Stevie Moore has been shelved. It could have been one hell of an independent film. I have dreamed for years of being the one to tell this story and my vision ranges from the straight shoot-from the hip and just narrate the life of this American Rock and Roll icon, to well, frankly the bizarre.

"R.S. Moore is a huge black-hole." And with that McDonough deposited a neat pile of tapes on my desk. He walked away and waited for the fireworks. I still remember my gut reaction as I popped one of the "home-made" tapes into my Walkman. The oxygen in the room seemed to have vanished. I tried in vain to pry the headphones from my head but instead my fingers dialed a higher volume. What I remember before I nearly passed out was a cacophony of dulcet tones which were stitched together with what at times was a threatening and yet tender falsetto vocalization.

After my initial hit I was hooked. I didn't know it then. I looked at McDonough who sat in stone faced silence and wished that the ceiling would fall on his head. He had turned me onto other rare gems. I had become a Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan fan overnight. This stuff, was, however, in a league of its own. I didn't know if I could stomach any more.
Yet, I kept coming back. I ate and ate at the R.S. Moore banquet. I ordered tapes from his "tape-club" whenever something went well or wrong in my life. ( Back then you sent him a check or a money order or cash and he sent you a home made copy of his latest release. )

In a manner of speaking I can play any number of his albums and will be instantly transported to a time and place that I've occupied before. Strange, huh?

No one is as Under-Appreciated as R. Stevie Moore is. I don't know why. He is a masterful composer. When McDonough called him a "black hole" - he meant that R.S. Moore has a knack for taking in musical styles and chewing them up and then spitting them out in a way that makes us recognize what is essential and innovative. His ability to play with what is truly American is mind-boggling. The thing of it is, that words fail me. You have to listen for yourself. But like any good piece of art, you can't just hear one song and give up. You have to listen repeatedly.

I used to work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, when I got out of college. I was a "museum guard". I had to stand in the twentieth century art gallery and answer lots of questions. Visitors from all over the world came to gawk at Kandinsky, Klee, Pollack, and many other modern masters. They inevitably asked the same question. "Don't you get bored looking at the same paintings?"

If I was in a funny or pissed off mood, I would answer "What paintings? I'm sorry but I am mostly color-blind, I don't see anything but white walls."

But if detected any hint of sincerity in the person I would ask them, "Do you ever become bored of your wife / husband / sister / girlfriend / boyfriend / mother?"

Some of them got it. Some of them didn't. That's the way with the world, I guess.

No matter what camp you happen to find yourself in, you owe it to yourself to listen to this man's music, and if it moves you, let him know. I'm sure he'll appreciate it.

the OFFICIAL R. Stevie Moore Website


Trailer for the R. S. Moore Documentary that Never Was


Wiki Stevie

* * * R. S. Moore Videos on You Tube * * *

My vision for the essential R. S. Moore movie is as much experimental as it is narrative. I can see the juxtaposition of archival video and audio covering R. S. Moore's days hosting a radio station and playing out, along side interviews of people who knew him and fans. It has to be a playful and eclectic piece, contemplative but essentially human. Sammy would come along, of course. He is also a fan. Pablo and Sammy covered "Can't Afford No Food". It brings tears to my eyes when I listen to it. It is that moving.

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