The Sound City Movie

The Sound City Movie

She was that kind of lady
Times are hard

Desperation and desire. The key elements to rock stardom.

And Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had both.

She’s back in town
And she’s looking around

From Phoenix to San Francisco to Hollywood.

That’s where you had to end up. You could start anywhere. But if you wanted to make it, you had to come to L.A. And what you found there surprised you. No city center. No three piece suits. Just a bunch of suburbanites just like you. And in the hallowed halls of recording studios, in the darkness, was where not only the sound of America was created, but the world. There was magic in studios. But it really didn’t begin until the band plugged in and started to play.

And from the hinterlands to Sound City was a very long journey. As AC/DC once sang, it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.

But not anymore. Five year olds can wail on their iPads. Record in GarageBand and then their parents can implore the rest of us to buy the production on iTunes. We’re inundated with dreck. And the ultimate desire is to get rich.

That used to be the byproduct. The goal was to REACH EVERYBODY!

Yup, you could be recording in an industrial park, but if you got it right people could be singing your song not only next week, but forevermore. Chances were slim. As were opportunities. So you made the most of them. You only had one shot…to change the world…and your life.

It’s not about technology, but people. In the almost unwatchable last third of this movie Trent Reznor, Josh Homme and Dave Grohl create music utterly riveting. With one hand on his laptop, Trent’s not worried about the tech, but the sound. It always comes down to the sound.

And the songs.

Without both, you’ve got nothing.

We knew what Sound City was. Because we read the credits. More than once. They were not in tiny CD type, they were big, in the center of the gatefold, on the inner sleeve. We not only knew the studios, but the guitar strings. Everything about the musicians and their music, because the music touched us, because it changed our lives.

And it hasn’t been that way in a very long time.

Because everybody’s not shooting high enough. They don’t need it enough. There wasn’t a single person in Dave Grohl’s studio telling him all that new material sucked, from Stevie Nicks to Lee Ving to Paul McCartney. Looked like they were having fun, but you don’t want to hear a single song ever again.

Then there’s “Lithium.”

Nirvana was hungry. They had to get it right. The songs didn’t need to be good, they needed to be great. And some things never change. If you’re still that great, everybody will know. And if not, you’re in an endless circle jerk thinking that everybody cares, when they don’t.

So you can skip the first few minutes. Until Dave pulls up at the studio.

And they tell the story of Buckingham Nicks and Fleetwood Mac.

Ooh, brings chills.

Mick Fleetwood is looking for a cheap studio.

And Keith Olsen pulls up the Buckingham Nicks album. Recorded there. At Sound City.

Do you know “Crying In The Night”?

Check it out here:

Buckingham Nicks – Crying In The Night

It’s the best Fleetwood Mac song you’ve never heard. Better than anything the band has done since “Rumours.” But because musicians are insane and their own worst enemies, it and the album it came from has never been released on CD. Even though the vinyl record populated baby boomers’ dorm rooms back in the seventies, when they bought that first Fleetwood Mac album with Stevie and Lindsey and needed MORE!

And when the sound comes out of the speakers, you TINGLE! Because it’s the essence. Music played by people who NEED IT! Buckingham and Nicks were always gonna break through, because they were never gonna give up. That’s what it takes, more than talent, PERSEVERANCE! You pay your dues, you get kicked around, and if you hang around long enough you make it.

You’ve got to be playing so long you get lucky.

And Buckingham and Nicks do. They’re picked up and rescued by Mick Fleetwood and the rest of the Mac. Look at the photos. They were so young, so skinny, so CUTE!

They were our rock stars.

Like Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers. Who were known by everybody BEFORE “Damn The Torpedoes” and “Refugee.” It’s not about everybody knowing your name, but a track so indelible they’ve got to play it again and again, that they can’t forget.

And yes, these tracks were all cut on the Neve.

But they would have been hits if they were cut ANYWHERE!

Don’t forget, the even bigger “Rumours” was cut up north, at the Record Plant. Studios aren’t everything.

But people are.

It was a different era. We were all paying attention. And if you got it right, you were as big and rich as anybody in the world. And you only answered to yourself. THAT’S why everybody wanted to be a rock star, the FREEDOM!

And it was hard work.

But it was worth it.

But then MTV made it more about looks than music. And the Internet blew the system apart. And if you don’t think this is a good thing, you’re never going to make it.

We need more documentaries like this. That illustrate how it once was. It’s like discovering a Dead Sea Scroll.

The arc is bad. It’s two movies in one. The story of a studio and the story of a board. Great moviemakers, like great writers, know it can only be about one thing. Add too much, even if it’s great on its own, and you muddy the waters, you ruin it. An expert knows sometimes you’ve got to leave the best things out.

But when they show what it was like back in the seventies, with the girls and the dope and the hope, all tied together by the music, you just want to crank it.

And you realize you can’t make it. That it’s only the special few who deserve our accolades.

And this movie features more than one.

And when the soundtrack blasts, you say THAT’S IT!

P.S. The “Sound City” movie is totally free at the above link. Not sure if that was Dave’s intention or a programming glitch, but put on your headphones and ENJOY!

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