Music Icon Binge

Happy Easter!

I’ve been working myself into a sugar stupor all day, between the hot cross buns with breakfast and the afternoon rummage of chocolate-dipped Peeps. The crash and burn is inevitable.

April has been a bit of a slow month with TV and movies, so it’s given me a chance to do some more exploring in my new city and check out one of the local theatres.

Sister Act, based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, first hit Broadway back in 2011, but this is the first production I’ve seen. It was an intimate theatre, but the production was great. I vaguely remembered the original story, and the music was a wonderful new addition–catchy songs from the late-disco era that were easy to “bop” along to. If you’ve never seen the original movie, it’s currently on Hulu, along with Sister Act 2.

It’s always interesting to me to see which films do well when they’re turned into plays/musicals, and vice-versa. Last year I saw the Tony-award winning Million Dollar Quartet at Old Creamery Theatre in Iowa, and while it was a great show, with a fascinating look at music history, I didn’t have any idea they would turn it into a TV show: Sun Records on CMT. If you’re unfamiliar with the subject, “Million Dollar Quartet” is a recording from Sun Records that was captured one night in 1956 between Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. Kind of a big deal, right? The stage play basically only follows how the one evening came about, and includes lots of great music, but it doesn’t really have enough meat to flesh out an entire TV series. Wisely, the series is making Sun Records founder, Sam Phillips, the focal point, and then following Cash, Presley, Lewis, and Perkins from early life and big breaks up until the iconic recordings. It’s a good move, because it opens up the show to other performers that recorded at Sun, like Ike Turner and B.B. King. Unfortunately, if you don’t know many details about these folks, several of the actors come across as cartoon-ish and over-the-top (Sam Phillips had a very distinctive voice, but CMM’s choice to slur his words through his teeth is almost painful to watch at times), and if you’ve seen Walk the Line or Great Balls of Fire!, you already know most of the history of Cash and Lewis. I don’t know if the show will make it to a second season, but dang it, I’m hanging on until they get to that epic recording session. (Shout out to the kid playing Elvis, because he’s got the look, voice, and moves down.)

All this early rock ‘n’ roll talk makes me want to watch La Bamba for some reason–a movie I can never pass up on television. “Ritchie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

For a complete music icon binge, you’ll probably need several weekends. Here’s my list, in no particular order:

  • The Buddy Holly Story (1978)
  • Sweet Dreams (1985) (Patsy Cline)
  • Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) (Loretta Lynn)
  • La Bamba (1987) (Ritchie Valens)
  • Great Balls of Fire! (1989) (Jerry Lee Lewis)
  • Ray (2004) (Ray Charles)
  • Walk the Line (2005) (Johnny Cash)
  • Get on Up (2014) (James Brown)
  • Selena (1997)
  • I Saw the Light (2015) (Hank Williams)
  • Straight Outta Compton (2015) (NWA)
  • Notorious (2009) (Notorious B.I.G.)
  • The Doors (1991)
  • The Runaways (2010)…not exactly icons, but they gave us Joan Jett!
  • Love & Mercy (2014) (Brian Wilson & The Beach Boys)
  • Jersey Boys (2014) (The Four Seasons)
  • Cadillac Records (2008) (Etta James, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and others)
  • What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993) (Tina Turner)



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