Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Crazy Heart

I saw Crazy Heart over the weekend. It was more than worth seeing. I'd recommend it. Like so many other great movies, Robert Duvall is in it. Jeff Bridges wears the part of Bad Blake like I wear my brown shirts. Blake is a man confronting the life he has lead and the mistakes he has made, putting one foot in front of the other, for better or worse. Plus, it turns out that Bridges actually makes a pretty good bar room singer. He sings a couple songs himself, and I was impressed, which got me to thinking.

Technically speaking, most of my favorite singers don't really have text book voices. They don't have huge ranges. They wouldn't make it far on American Idol. As a matter of fact, I've heard various ignorant people say Robert Earl Keen is a bad singer. I've heard the same thing of Jerry Jeff Walker and Chris Knight. None of those guys went off for vocal training at some east coast school. Music moguls didn't pluck them out of the mall and make stars out of them because they fit an image. They picked up guitars and started writing about life. And what they and others like them have in common is that they can sing their stories as if they lived them. Heck, Jerry Jeff wrote "Mr. Bojangles" about a man he met while spending the night in jail in New Orleans. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure Chris Knight didn't live through "Back Down the River." If he had I doubt he'd have made a written public confession in a song. But he still sings it as if he means it. And that's what Jeff Bridges manages in "Crazy Heart." He didn't actually write the title song, Ryan Bingham did. He's been married 33 years and has three grown daughters. He hasn't lived the song, but he still manages to play the role as if he has. That's what makes a good entertainer. I've paid money at the door to see Bingham down town at the Blue Light. If Jeff Bridges ever decided on a career change and found himself on stage playing a guitar in West Texas I'd put my money down and buy a ticket for him too.

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