BE GLAD THAT THE SONG HAS NO ENDING
INCREDIBLE STRING BAND (1971)
Directed by Peter Neal
It is always a very nice surprise when one
sees something that is old in nature, late 1960's in this case, and it has an
appearance that is reminiscent of the old "hippie" era, and when you saw it a
long time ago, it seemed a bit on the stony side, and crazy, and something that
was rather weird, and we could not figure it out.
Seeing this today, 2016, does not change the very nature of it all, but when you look at it, and step back, you realize one thing that I am not sure we all did in those days. This is more about the "poetry", in the words, than it is about the "theater" behind it, although the theater in it, really HELPS make this a very nice thing all around.
In America, specially, a lot of the music in the late 60's was mostly viewed with a social/political attitude, and somehow, sadly, something with a more literary approach, was not exactly appreciated, although a lot of big groups took a huge interest in what the Incredible String Band were doing, and ended up doing.
For the most part, and Robin Williamson has specified it so, the group came, much more from a poetry view and idea, than it did "folk music", or any other possible description of "music", since what they did, sometimes seems like a satire on music itself, with some really well done, special and weird style of vocalizations for either effect or meaning. My guess is more for "meaning" since the lyrics (or poetry, really!), for almost all of this work, are very much like reading a major English poet of way back when, however, this is not something that ... oh my gosh, a rock band doing some name poet on the stage with some weird movement? WTF is that crap, and in many ways, this is what happened in Woodstock, that pretty much relegated the group's work in many places, as not important and valid, though by that time they were on their 2nd large project ("U") as far as I can tell.
Seeing this film today, one can see the romanticized version of the "hippie" era, never mind that the girls also sing and play in the band, which is one thing that is odd in itself, but lends a special touch that no one else has ever tried to use and play with. It was, truly original, and as such very special, and I, for one, would have wished to see more of it, were it not for the rock'n'roll audiences, that do not appreciate anything that is more artistic than a song, or two. Likewise, when Deep Purple went out with their classical piece, they also got booed which kind of tells you where the mentality of the "rock press" had already gone in those days, that made some very special works get left behind, and in fact, intimidated many bands from doing anything of the sort as time went by, although, I think it helped bring about the "progressive" era in music, by expanding the music itself, which of course, the Incredible String Band had already been doing so well, via a lot of their poetry.
It's hard to see stuff like this and think ... where's the meaning in it ... when the words are very much on the poetic side, and not exactly sung a few times. And this was one of their strengths, that gave their music some very special qualities that were quite rare indeed in the world of popular music.
Again, it may look dated, but it is magnificent work, and that it was filmed, in the DVD discussion with the director Peter Neal, he suggests that there was no script to work on per se for filming, because the work itself did not fit/match those kinds of things. You tried the best you could as it went along, and this is, without a doubt one of the greatest tributes to a lot of the arts in those days, mostly theater, some film, and definitely the dance groups, even though many might laugh and say that wasn't a dance. It was just movement. Don't discuss this with modern dance enthusiasts!
Excellent film, and one of the few archives that show that the "hippie" era was not just another stoned environment that didn't care about their work. This is a very special type of work, but I wonder if you have to love film, theater, dance ... but this time with what would be thought of as folk music. A very rare mix, and special in every way.
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