It Might Get Loud

My review of the new guitar documentary, It Might Get Loud, is posted at Christianity Today.

It’s a pretty interesting film and definitely fascinating for anyone who plays guitar or is interested in the history of rock music. The film focuses on Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White (pictured above).

Here’s a snippet of my review, where I talk about how The Edge is characterized in the film:

Born David Howell Evans, The Edge plays the part of the spiritual rocker. We see him doing yoga, playing his guitar (with amp) on a remote beach on the Irish Sea, and making philosophical remarks about how forests are a metaphor for guitar playing. Somewhere between Thoreau and Gandhi, The Edge uses his guitar in a distinctly otherworldly manner, meticulously employing the technologies and techniques at his disposal (effects modules, pedals, delay, reverb) to push sound to its outer limits. His glittering, patented sound crystallizes best in songs like “Where the Streets Have No Name,” which we are privileged to hear both in stadium concert form and when The Edge plays a four-track recording of the early demos of his iconic introductory guitar riff. Where other rock star guitarists might get caught up in the “scene” (groupies, drugs, bad fashion), the sleek, refined Edge comes across as a minimalist zenmaster, an all-business shaman who wants to get in the sound, exploring its contours and possibilities with scientific precision.

And here’s my take on Jack White’s persona in the film:

In stark contrast to The Edge (but no less fascinating) is Jack White, a Detroit-bred relative youngster whose explosive reinvention of garage rock (via Delta blues) catapulted him to fame alongside bandmate/ex-wife Meg White, who collectively make up The White Stripes. White is a hipster to the core, obsessed with all things old, vintage, and difficult, and prone to inventing obstacles and challenges for himself just because things shouldn’t be so easy in these here modern times. Where The Edge was about the sound and musicality of creation, Jack White is more taken with the materiality and lore of rock music. He loves handcrafted custom guitars, the gimmicky peppermint-painted aesthetic of his band (he and Meg only wear red, white or black), and the finger-bleeding “you have to pick a fight with the guitar” intensity of being a hard rocker. Always the contrarian, White also takes pleasure in confusing the press, Bob Dylan style. He’s managed to keep the false rumor alive, for example, that Meg White is actually his big sister—something he claims in the film. He is a great guitar talent, to be sure, but for Jack White the accoutrements of rock sometime seems more important than the actual music.

Read the rest of the review here.

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5 responses to “It Might Get Loud

  1. I can see where the edge could come off as a zen master.. but i know too many guys that got a delay pedal and made about 50 songs that edge would have like to have written. not to say he was not talented and creative. It just seems that creating an obstacle for yourself to create a certain mood/feeling through your music is just as logical as hitting one chord and letting if repeat itself for days and calling it a song.

    I didn’t realize that a hipster was a person that like old things… i like old things and no one has ever called me a hipster… i though it was someone who was “hip” meaning, up on new fashion, music, popular culture. not someone who plays delta blues through a tube amp.
    but hey, to each his own.
    im a true fan of both men and i cant wait to see it. it looks entertaining to say the least.
    good review man
    talk to you later.
    Love Trucker.

  2. The Edge is also involved with the Spider-Man musical on Broadway opening sometime in early 2010…

  3. I think Bill Bailey was spot-on when he did this:

    The Edge is not a great guitar player. He’s a guy whose core audience doesn’t really care about guitar playing but rather prefers guitar posturing.

  4. I’m almost starting to suspect that you have a long term conceptual art project going on here of using the word “hipster” in so many various inappropriate contexts that it will become completely meaningless. Somewhere between orwell and warhol?

  5. FLYP did a pretty good story on Guggenheim and the film, check it:

    http://www.flypmedia.com/issues/plus/19/#1/1

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