To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.
2007 – #10. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
I’ve made a smart playlist on my iPod for 2007. And what a year it was! It seemed like more than any other year so far, I was spoilt for choice. So many great records. I was in love with music. Yet, looking at the songs and albums over and over, I kept coming back to this, the Walk Hard soundtrack. Regardless of the film, it’s one of my highlights of 2007. In fact, the only reason it comes in at number 10 is because the film worked against it.
If you have not seen it, you must watch Walk Hard now. On paper, it’s a Walk the Line/Ray parody. But it’s so much more. It’s star, Dewey Cox, is like a Forrest Gump of music history (except famous), and we follow him through every musical cliche from the 50s on.
Cox suffers abject poverty, a too young first wife, Daddy issues, the teen revolution, number one records, drugs on the road, protest folk, LSD, disco, punk, TV shows and finally, 00s era come back. It is pretty much the synopsis of many musicians biographies, but it’s played for clever laughs.
So yeah, the decade had other great movies as well. What sets this soundtrack apart? In my mind it’s the greatest comedy soundtrack parody thing since Spinal Tap. These songs are destined be classics in the comedy genre.
The soundtrack opens with the Marshall Crenshaw (Marshall Crenshaw!!!!!!!!!) penned title track, a cool Johnny Cash type manifesto song. But after that, it follows the trick of the movie, parody-ing the cliche history of music in order. It really, really sounds like a George Jones or Merle Haggard best of that’s chronological.
Oh, but the songs are great. And subtle too. It’s not cheap gags. Written mostly by Mike Viola and Dan Bern, these guys know that the music is funnier when played 100% straight.
The 50s bubblegum of Take My Hand (risque in the 50s), some country duets and Cash-like mariachi stuff kicks us off. When we hit the 60s, we are well and truly off. Let Me Hold You (Little Man), Hey Old Guy and Dear Mr President are some of the finest protest songs about midget rights, the elderly and racist sentiment ever.
Better still are the Dylan pastiches (Farmer Glickstein and Royal Jelly). Played utterly straight, except with absolutely nonsense lyrics. You’ll never listen to Gates Of Eden the same way again. Throw in a Beach Boys circa Smile era Black Sheep and the late career song that sums up his whole life – Beautiful Ride.
The music and production are flawless. No thought was spared. Slide guitars, pianos, trumpets – every cliche is played upon. And special call out to John C Reilly, a man who loves to sing, who nails every single song.
Removed from the movie, I have played many people these songs and they’ve loved it. You have to be some degree of a music nerd to get the full pleasure. But if you are, then you have to hear this. And see the movie too.
Dewey lives! An actual live gig to promote the movie, with a nice Dylan ramble. Not great audio, but you get the idea how great the songs are.