Billy Bragg and Wilco: Man in the Sand (2001) -I rented this movie for two reasons: I’m a fan of the three artists featured: Woody Guthrie, Wilco and Billy Bragg, plus, secondly, I thought it might be a good companion piece for the Wilco documentary I was going to watch next.
This is pretty much a straight documentary about Bragg and Wilco collaborating on turning lyrics written by Guthrie, but never recorded, into songs that later were compiled as Mermaid Avenue 1 and 2.
If you like any of these artists you’ll enjoy some of the interviews and behind-the-scenes peeks at what they are “really” like. If not, then this might not interest you so much.
I give it a 7.
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco (2002) This excellent documentary, the best music documentary I’ve ever seen except the one about Metallica , captures so much in its two hours.
The documentary records the great alt-country band Wilco as it collaborates and makes the album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
When the project began nobody could predict what would happen next, namely that the record label that had paid the band to make the album would, upon hearing the wildly experimental album, would first request changes and then drop the act.
Music journalists loved the story because it clearly showed the record labels cared about profit instead of talent. Ironically, the band’s album was later bought by Nonesuch, which is owned by the same company that rejected the album previously.
The movie, especially the commentary track with the band on the DVD, shows a lighter side to the band members with them making fun of themselves and very self-aware.
I give it a 9.