Thursday, January 14, 2010

Don't take her, she's all I got

When I watch a movie that I find unsatisfying, I find plenty of satisfaction when that movie introduces to me a great song that I had never heard before. That makes for the overall experience to be a positive thing, even if I don't plan on watching that movie ever again.

A few years ago, I was introduced to a wonderful song by the Kinks that was from their mid-1970s period called "God's Children." The song was used in a beautiful-looking movie that was filled with flat attempts at humor and mostly one-note characters: American Fork. Since seeing that, "God's Children" has become one of my favorite Kinks songs, right along with songs like "Waterloo Sunset" and "When I See That Girl of Mine."

So, I thank the filmmakers, but wonder what I learned in those other 85 minutes. I'm still in the dark on that one.

Anyway, I watched Mike Judge's Extract over the weekend, and would give it two-and-a-half-stars. Since Netflix only goes by whole numbers, I decided to rate the film with only two stars. Of course, that comes up as "Didn't like it," but that's not entirely true. I loved the opening shot featuring a country song I had never heard of (and have since listened to dozens of times): Johnny Paycheck's "(Don't Take Her) She's All I Got."

As I have partially joked over the years (including on a country station I used to be on where I could let my short hair down), I find a lot of country music as pop music played in the wrong key. Something about the way country singers sing, the lack of arresting melodies or harmonies, and the abundance of twang just has never set right with me. Yet I have no problem listening to country-influenced rock acts like My Morning Jacket, Ryan Adams, and the Jayhawks.

Like the other relatively old school country song that I like ("Amarillo By Morning" by George Strait) I have to thank the simple, climbing I-IV-V chord progression under the verses. Two or three chords can totally change the vibe of a song for the better or the worse. Thankfully, "She's All I Got" has the right ones.

So even though I didn't find the whole movie a joy, at least I now have a great Johnny Paycheck song in my iTunes library, and I know more about him other than "Take This Job and Shove It."

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