Johnny Cash apparently believed that he was of Cherokee ancestry, and this later turned out not to be the case. Had he known it wasn’t true, would he have made this album, I wonder? I think it’s an intriguing question: how much does the actual blood matter? If you were told it, and grew up believing it, and identifying with that culture, would it make a difference if your DNA later proved otherwise? I’m not claiming to know the answer…

But I think that ‘Bitter Tears: Johnny Cash sings the Ballads of the American Indian’ is an extraordinary album, full of visceral anger about the unjust treatment of Native Americans through America’s history. Continue reading

Just as there is now a genre known as ‘Liam Neeson takes a series of kidnappers / terrorists / wolves apart with his fists in a frighteningly realistic way’, so there is also the genre we’re going to call ‘Oh, you’re going to fuck with Jessica Chastain, are you? Are you… sure that’s a good idea?’ Continue reading

So a while ago, Sam Taplin (of ‘Sam Taplin’ fame) sent me an email with a link to the latest Ed Sheeran song, which (at that time) was called ‘Castle On The Hill’. I thought this might the kind of song you’d like, he said.Knowing that my motto is “No song too obscure, no song too ubiquitous” (or… it is for this blog post at least), this was a fair assumption.

I thought it was okay. Obvious Mumford influence, with a bit of U2 thrown in. Nice sentiment, but… did I really believe the song? I wasn’t sure. Continue reading

Lake Bell’s film In A World (set in the movie trailer voiceover industry) is a film with the kind of razor sharp wit, touching drama and perfectly-crafted filmmaking that I always expect to find in Woody Allen films, but somehow never do. I’m always surprised in Woody Allen films by the way in which his jokes, particularly his one-liners, hit you over the head. They always sound to me like he thought of them independently, and then crafted a scene around how to get as many in as possible.

I actually really admire Woody Allen as a filmmaker. His films look amazing. And he’s fantastically prolific, and always original. And don’t ask me about the child-molesting criticisms because I don’t actually care enough about him to be able to write about that with any authority.

But seriously, In A World is about three times better than the best Woody Allen film I’ve ever seen. Continue reading

You read that correctly. Giorgio Moroder, of Giorgio Moroder fame, has released a Giorgio Moroder cover of Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega, with none other than Britney Spears on vocals.

As you may know, I am something of a Suzanne Vega fan. So, if anyone should be calling the emergency services out to have a song pulled from a brutal car crash on this one, it should be me.

This cover version… really shouldn’t work. I mean, it really shouldn’t work. It very nearly doesn’t work. Continue reading