Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dan "Dewey Cox" Bern

As far as I'm concerned, Walk Hard already comes with impressive credentials as a film, springing forth from the realm of Jud Apatow.
But then today I got news that Dan Bern had a hand in writing most of the film's songs, and something tells me the music will be just as good as the rest of the humor.
Bern is a tremendous songwriter, made up of a little Dylan and an overflowing bucket of dry wit. He's an unapologetic lefist and sees power in songs just as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger did. He's a bit nasally, but he can play a mean harp, and if anyone alive could write a talking blues song for the Internet age, it's Dan Bern.
The first I ever heard of Bern was the song "Tiger Woods," and the memory is a bit shaky, but it was somehow tied up in Comedy Corner, a sketch group I knew and loved dearly. And the song got tremendous airplay (not quite the right word since it wasn't on the radio, but 'play' by itself just doesn't work here) at parties I and others threw all throughout college. You can't go wrong when a tune starts with the lyrics "I got big balls..."
It was later I started approaching the rest of his work, after hearing "Jerusalem" at a friend's house, but it was the New American Language record that really made me see just how skilled a songwriter he really is. He hadn't abandoned humor by any stretch, only now Bern used it to dress up heartache and disillusionment and the powerless that stems from the fact that world sometimes just ain't gonna be the way we'd like it, no matter how hard we try.
Here's a verse from "Black Tornado"
And everyplace I go is one less place I could call home
And every girl I kiss, well I just cross her off my list
I don't go far
I just go crazy
I buried all of my old clothes out in some field in West Des Moines
And if you judge me tonight
Judge me by the songs I write
That's who I am to you
From what I understand, Bern lives out in New Mexico now, but that doesn't bring him out to Arizona on tour with any frequency. I did get the chance to see him play once, just over three years ago, in Flagstaff. It was late October, leading up to an election day that would ultimate be a devastating one. He was passionate about change, about using his music to bring people together and to make some change in the world. And even if you don't succeed, that trying just may just add up to being the moments worth living for. So, it was a great show, and as I said at the time: "Anyone who calls his band the International Jewish Banking Conspiracy has a lot up his sleeve."

And the fact that this guy has his hands in writing songs for a biopic spoof must mean that the movie has a lot more going for it than just what's on the surface.

Check out some live tunes:
Dan Bern - Tiger Woods
Dan Bern - Jerusalem
Dan Bern - New American Language
Dan Bern - President
Dan Bern - Black Tornado
Find the whole set over at archive.org.

1 comment:

f-gan said...

haven't said anything til now, but much appreciation for the late busy round of posts. good stuff. keep it up.

check out your clip on my youtube site.

Feel free to share, but remember, it's ROUGH. Fine-tuning will come, sound effects will come, but you got yourself a rough sketch of what this particular clip may look like.