Pick Your Pop Culture

So, I've like written about music for 25 years, and like I've got a lot to say and not enough people to pay me for it, and like I like to write about TV, and books, and movies, and stuff like that.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Trial and Passion

What do I know about Catholic saints? Nothing? How much do I remember about Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”? Only a vague sense of confusion, fear, and doom. So, let’s start talking about two movies, both regarding accusations and innocence. “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc,” filmed in 1928, tells the tale of the trial and execution of the famous St. Joan, while “The Trial,” directed by Orson Welles in 1962, gives us an adaptation of Kafka’s novel.

As I understand it, Joan of Arc was declared a saint only eight years before this silent classic was made. The director was full of reverence for her suffering, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t also full of the 1920s dictum that art should be extraordinary and extreme. Sets were designed by the same dude who did them for “Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” and though these aren’t nearly as Max Beckman-esque as were those expressionist backgrounds, they aren’t exactly realistic, either.

Carl Theodor Dryer was in charge of this film, smack in the heyday of a long and varied career of art films nobody I know has ever seen. He sets the camera roving close-in on every oddball, rancid, and downright ugly face he could find to fill the huge peanut gallery around the court setting for Joan’s trial. Then, ultimately, he moves in to the incandescent face of Renee Maria Falconetti, in the only film role of her life, and one which has occasionally been called the greatest single performance in the medium’s history.

Great is a big word, of course, and greatest is even bigger, but I’ll tell you what, this woman made you feel like she was going through a war inside her head because of the price she was paying for serving her God. Dryer clearly believes she was holy, but you don’t have to accept that the Lord was taking sides in a long-gone grudge match between France and England to at least recognize suffering when you see it. She could be incredibly stubborn for no real reason at all, but she isn’t going to betray her principles, no matter how much it hurts.

And, oh, how it hurts. The judges, all high muckety-mucks in the Church of the time, aren’t taking “I served my Lord” for an answer. So, they, each line a valley in their ancient faces seen in these tight close-ups, spit out question after question at Joan, trying to trip her up, trying to catch her in denying the role of the church. Here’s where my lack of Catholic history training holds me down, because I really can’t figure out what she did to piss off the priesthood. Other than dressing like a man, which was such a dreadful sin in her medieval prime that she wouldn’t be able to ever get communion without agreeing to wear a dress. (Or, waiting until she was about to be burned at the stake; I’m not giving away the ending unless you’re even less informed about Joan of Arc than I am.)

Falconetti was apparently mistreated by Dryer in the course of making this film. Or, as film buffs like to put it, she was made to feel Joan’s suffering in a personal way, forced to remain on her knees for hours at a time, or deprived of water and food so she could know what it’s like to be this miserable. Her genius, however, seems to be not that she could look like she was staring Satan in the face, but that at the same time, she could look as though she was watching him get his ass whupped by God. She went through doubts, of course, but her convictions were always strong, right up until that long, arduous burning at the end. Well, except for the time when she did recant, and the priests told her because her crimes were so egregious, she would still have to spend her life in prison. But, she couldn’t even last a few hours with the knowledge she’d grow old before she had to admit her mistake, and tell them that, no, she really did know what God wanted her to do.

The look of this film is like nothing I’ve seen from 1928, let alone anything I’ve seen until at least the late 50s. All the tight close-ups, the lack of make-up, the constant cutting in point of view, the strange sets, the decision to make the prison guards wear World War I military garb, it all serves as a template for much later work. I’m thinking Bergman, Goddard, and Herzog. At any rate, it’s a haunting flick, made even more powerful by the accompanying soundtrack written for it in 1985 by Richard Einhorn.

Joan was accused of something I couldn’t quite understand, but which she was certain she had not done. Joseph K, on the other hand, is merely accused in “The Trial.” Not accused of anything, just accused. And that’s the genius of Kafka. Welles, a sort of genius of his own, took that foundation and ran with it, albeit ultimately mucking things up and creating a slightly less chilling movie. Still, that there is any film in existence that even begins to capture Kafka’s work is impressive enough, and something I didn’t know until I stumbled across this one the other day.

Anthony Perkins is perfect as Joseph K. He’s an ordinary man, an assistant manager in an enormous company of virtually interchangeable accountants. Things happen to him in this movie, just as in the book, and his befuddlement and frustration with events beyond his control is the story we are here to watch. As the world becomes more divorced from the expression of human individuality, we find ourselves trapped, accused of crimes we don’t even know.

Welles managed to find a crumbling railroad station in Paris back in the early 60s for filming, and this gives the film an amazing ambience. The vast spaces, the nooks and crannies, the steel limbed skylights, all very cool stuff to see. Where I think he went wrong is with the introduction of a sexual desire in Joseph which I simply can’t remember from the book. I mean, I think Kafka was afraid of women, and he probably gave Welles the blueprint for their sexual predation roles, but for some reason, Perkins keeps pushing his own interest in these women. He’s alternately shy and virile, in ways that distract from the story itself. I don’t want Joseph K to have any power in the world, and this sexual power is especially wrong.

That said, there are some other brilliant updates. By 1962, the corporation man was a much more familiar concept, and Welles played it up. I loved the three co-workers, all dressed alike, but one of them being over a head taller than the other two. I enjoyed the computer in Joseph’s company, an enormous, mile-long string of giant machines all spewing out data and still unable to help him find out of what he has been accused. The massive amount of useless paper assembled in the home of Joseph’s advocate – played with suitable insanity by Welles himself – was a delicious touch.

In the novel, Joseph is killed, though I don’t remember the exact tale. I know he was never able to understand what was happening to him, and we were never able to completely declare him free of guilt. Not that he did anything any more wrong than his accusers, but he was complicit in the same society they were running. He wanted to be accepted by them, which made him a more pathetic choice as someone accused of any transgression against them. As I said, I don’t remember the exact ending, but I’m fairly sure it wasn’t a nuclear explosion. On the scale of nuclear explosions ending movies, I have to put this one well below the classic “Dr. Strangelove,” and perhaps a notch or two above the hilarious “Beneath the Planet of the Apes.” I’m not sure where Welles was going with this, other than to remind us of the existential terrors of the time. At any rate, he was reaching for a bigger statement than he could make. A “rosebud” this was not.

Trials are supposed to determine guilt or innocence, so it’s interesting to see these two movies which make no such determination. The real people on trial, I suppose, are the inhuman accusers. The church fathers of medieval times, the faceless modern machine-styled society, both systems which denied the freedom of individuals to live and breathe without conforming. Remember, freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. Just ask Joan, who believed she had her eternal soul to lose, or Joseph K, who had nothing in the first place.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Race and Gender and You and Me

We are all the other. A simple idea, I suppose, but one that’s very, very hard to forget.

My life is different from yours. We may have some similarities, of course. Maybe we have the same hair color, or the same religious opinions, or a common ability to be turned on by the same famous actor or actress. But, no matter how many things I’ve found to mark us as similar, there are many, many more things to show us to be different.

That’s because what I know of me that makes me unique is much more than what anybody else knows of me. My wife knows a heck of a lot about my individuality, and I know a lot about hers, after more than ten years of being with each other every day. But, even here, we have much more to discover about each other than we can ever know. We are bound to be surprised by something no matter how much we’ve invested in the experience of each other.

So, if even two people as intimately connected as me and Cat can’t possibly know everything about each other’s essential state, why is it so easy for most people to assume we know something essential about other people based on a very small sample size of data? That person is black, this one kissed somebody of the same gender, that one is well-to-do, this one is a transsexual. Each of these phrases puts us in mind of a clichéd response or two, doesn’t it? And each of those clichés is more likely to be wrong when applied to an individual than it is to be right.

I’ve just finished reading “S/He,” a book by Minnie Bruce Pratt, and I just saw the movie “Crash,” written and directed by Paul Haggis. This is one of those happy bits of synchronicity, because the book and the movie complement each other. They’ve both got me thinking about the ways we think we know people, and the ways individual humans continue to surprise us. They’ve also got me thinking about the ways stereotypes and bigotry instill fear in people on both sides of the issue at hand, and the ways that fear affects individuals.

“S/He” is a series of vignettes by Pratt, normally a poet but whose skills translatebeautifully to prose. Pratt is a femme lesbian with a female transsexual partner who is not undergoing surgery. In other words, Pratt’s partner, the “s/he” of the title, is someone for whom we haven’t built up many stereotypes. Or worse, it’s someone who becomes the victim of multiple stereotypes, from male heterosexual to female homosexual to butch homosexual to transsexual of any type. Pratt tells of fears waiting for her partner to return from a simple visit to a public restroom, where any number of possible reactions to hir presence could occur.

There is an abundance of love on display in “S/He,” a full plate of erotic moments and mundane delights. Pratt’s descriptions of events in her life with her partner, and her life before it, constantly make great leaps into insights unknown. I am incapable of living as Pratt does – I suppose the equivalent would have to be me becoming considerably more jockish and then falling in love with a male to female transsexual who has no intention of being surgically transformed. But, I feel connected to her experiences now. Pratt delivers the essential feelings of falling in love, the moments which take your breath away no matter what gender or sex you may be. And, she delivers the feelings of being different, of being hated for who you are, or who people think you are, and of being proud that you aren’t afraid to be who you are.

Sexuality is a lot more complicated than most people want to assume. Most discussions of it tend to place it in binary categories. You’re either straight or gay, male or female, moral or immoral. Yet, people themselves tend to fall all over the continuum between these points. And, depending on one’s individual experiences, and one’s opinion of one’s experiences, judgements about the acceptance of other possibilities tend to get hardened. (By that I mean, people who have encountered multiple sex and gender possibilities are more likely to accept them, unless, of course, these encounters included sexual delights which strongly contradicted one’s own moral code; thus you get supposed heterosexuals railing against homosexuality as much as anything because they fear it in themselves.)

So is race. Growing up in the Midwest in the 1960s, I pretty much understood two races. There were whites, and there were blacks. Oh, I’d heard something about Asians (we knew them as Orientals then), but I don’t think I would have understood Hispanics as another race, or Africans, or Arabs. I would have seen them as grouped in one or the other of the three divisions I knew.

Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Like sex and gender, race is an arbitrary construct, a naming of something based on surface elements. Skin color, primarily, but cultural background is important, as well. Genetically, there are no important differences between Caucasians, Africans, and Asians. What we see as differences are trivial in the grand scheme of things.

“Crash” hits hard at the way we see these differences, which is decidedly not trivial. By taking people from wildly different backgrounds – African-Americans both lower class and upper middle class, upper middle class whites, lower class Hispanics, and lower middle class Iranians – and watching what happens as their lives intersect, we see stereotypes revealed to be both true and false. That’s what makes things more complicated. Two lower class African-Americans walking in a ritzy white neighborhood are possibly there to pull a carjacking. Pampered middle aged white wives of district attorneys could turn out to be incapable of connecting to other people.

Haggis doesn’t do a perfect job with the script. He tends to have characters tell us who they are and why they think the way they do, which saves time, but doesn’t make things quite as believable. But, once we’ve established the basics, he does make sure to keep us surprised. Almost all of the many characters in this film are revealed to have completely unexpected, yet very reasonable, facets. They learn from their experiences, yet they don’t become perfect human beings.

Oh, yeah, there is some incredible acting in this flick. Don Cheadle is magnificent in a difficult role as a police investigator who is trying to find a way to do the right things in life, and not sure how to relate to the people he loves. Matt Dillon’s role as a largely despicable yet still heroic cop will make your skin crawl at times. Sandra Bullock handles the bitchy DA wife part nicely, and is smooth when it’s time to become dependent on others. Still, the roles played by Ludacris and Larenz Tate, two car thieves who set the plot in motion, are my favorites. Yeah, it’s obvious Haggis is stealing from Quentin Tarantino in “Pulp Fiction” when he has them talking so much philosophy about their criminal actions, but they display very human reactions to the events around them.

Race, sexuality, whatever! There is something about each of us that scares the living daylights out of other people somewhere. Keeping that in mind would seem to be a first step in making things better. Read “S/He” or watch “Crash” or do both. The world is full of differences dancing around similarities.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Carter Family and Shaky Hands

Music documentaries tend to piss me off. For example, let’s talk about this American Experience TV show run on PBS this past week on “The Carter Family: Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” Now, I love the Carter Family, and I always have. So, I was pretty excited to sit down and see them praised on national TV for a full hour.

But, let’s start with this. The best reason to love the Carter Family is the music, not the influence. I mean, yeah, sure, don’t pretend the influence, which is as great as any 20th century figure this side of Louis Armstrong, isn’t there, but talk about what makes the music so great. In this documentary, only Barry Mazor (No Depression contributing editor and the curator of Twangclips, the annual collection of music film history at St. Louis’s Twangfest, coming up in early June) and Gillian Welch (singer/songwriter with a decided Appalachian feel) give much of an effort to talk about the music itself.

In fact, Welch’s demonstration of the difference between playing the bare chords of “Wildwood Flower” (aka the way I did it back in my band days, when the other guitarist in 60 Hz Hm did the good parts) and playing the melodic approach to them that Maybelle Carter took, was the kind of thing that should be done more often. It’s pretty basic musical information, to be sure, but it’s rarely recognized by average listeners because nobody takes the time to point it out. And then, when she pointed out the bounce of Maybelle’s strumming, we found yet another way to listen to these records. That’s one of the benefits of analyzing music; it should give you something new on which to focus your attention.

Then there’s the question of hiring actors to play the Carters in soft-focused recreations of events in their lives. Really, was the guy walking along the railroad tracks with his hand twitching such a strong visual that it couldn’t have been replaced with some more Depression-era rural footage? And, the lip-synching in the studio stuff was kind of spooky, although I guess it was interesting to see A.P. Carter leading his partners by keeping the rhythm with his hands. Worst of all, though, was probably A.P. at the typewriter, his hands shaking again as he tweaked the lyrics of old mountain songs to fit the contemporary demands of copyright.

A.P. Carter did us a few valuable services, no question about that. He single-handedly collected a body of folk songs that would otherwise have been completely lost to the ages, and many of them turned out to be things I couldn’t imagine living without. Like “Wildwood Flower,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” or “I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes,” to name just a few of the most obvious. He also figured out that his wife and her cousin were enormously talented, and that pushing them into show business could make them all wealthier than they ever dreamed, which is great for us now because we have hundreds of recordings to enjoy.

But, he did this on the backs of the people who gave him the songs. Nothing in this documentary mentioned payment for them, merely his untiring search for more material. And, there was a black man who helped him, shown briefly in the documentary, but I can’t remember his name precisely because that guy never got any credit (and presumably no royalties) for his role in the act. On top of this, he didn’t make Sarah, his wife, happy.

The story of the documentary was from A.P.’s point of view, and it attempted to portray him as a visionary determined to succeed, while throwing in some tragedy at the end when his very success was achieved at the cost of his happiness. (Along side this, there was the ironic tale of the Carters being bumped from the cover of Life magazine, the most widely read weekly in the country at the time, by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, thus preventing further musical dominance for the group.) I’m sorry, but I don’t know that A.P. Carter was driven by much more than an interest in making some money without having to work too hard. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I don’t buy his interest in preserving his family legacy, which seemed to be the implication of this program.

Sarah’s voice and Maybelle’s guitar were the strokes of genius in the Carter Family. A.P. Carter was responsible for giving them songs and giving us the records. The legacy has been huge – much of country music was built on the Carter bedrock. I’d have liked to get more insight into why that legacy happened, what was it that made the Carters songs get preserved, while most of their contemporaries have faded into the dust? Oh, and as always, I’d like to hear more full-length performances without talking over them. Admittedly, the original Carters weren’t filmed together, but the live material that was shown – including a rare 1960s reunion between Sarah and Maybelle – should have been given to us in its entirety. Maybe they could have sacrificed the talking head who pointed out that “A.P. needed music probably the same way he needed air to breathe.” That’s the kind of line that makes it into too many documentaries about music.

I’m glad there’s some attention being paid to these old records again on account of this show, though. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to have seen this. The Carter Family’s music is absolutely glorious, and this documentary only hinted at that fact.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Kid - Chaplin, Coogan, Fun

I’ve been watching a lot of silent movie comedy lately, having recorded a number of Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin flicks off Turner Classic Movies, the most indispensable channel on any television package. My interest in these goes back to childhood, when I read every book I could find in the library on the subjects of popular culture. Back then, of course, there was no cable TV, no home video, and for the most part, no opportunity to actually see the antics being described so lovingly.

I must have seen a couple dozen pictures of little Jackie Coogan sitting on the front stoop of his apartment as “The Kid.” All I knew about it was that Chaplin’s Tramp adopts this orphan child and that the movie is generally considered to be Exhibit A (or maybe B, after the scene in “The Gold Rush” when he cooks the shoe) in charges of Chaplin’s sentimentality crimes.

I’ve just finished watching it, though, and while “The Kid” is sappy as all get out, I just can’t hold it against anybody concerned. That’s because of three things.

First, Coogan is absolutely adorable, possibly the most completely charming and natural child actor ever in the history of cinema. I have absolutely no interest in ever having a child of my own, but if I had one like him, at least I’d have some smiles and laughs now and again. His ability in this movie to be captivated by whatever diversion life gives him is pure and lovely. And, it’s also fun to see him full of deviltry, helping Chaplin by breaking windows with rocks so that the Tramp can come along to repair them for money.

Secondly, Chaplin is the kind of thing you just can’t help loving, like chocolate, puppy dogs, and baseball. He moves so perfectly on film, with those little shoulder shrugs, the comic walk, and the exaggerated arm movements. He’s funny, no question about it, though he holds the levity down to serve the sentimentality in this film. It doesn’t matter. Every time he turns on a dime to go in the other direction from a police patrolman, I laugh.

Thirdly, Chaplin is a twisted genius, and he was never afraid to just throw things in to a movie because an idea occurred to him. For example, with one reel left at the end, and nothing to do but reunite the kid and the Tramp, he gives us a dream sequence that was never mentioned in any of the summaries I read back in the day.

The Kid and Chaplin are angels, wandering around in a crowd of winged, white robed folks dancing, playing lyres, and generally enjoying themselves. But, this isn’t Heaven, because devils pop in and out to provide temptation. Chaplin encounters a lovely young woman angel, whose husband/boyfriend has left her alone for a few minutes. They seem to like each other, so the devil comes along and urges her to “vamp” him.

A word on vamping, a convention of silent movies and apparently a major fear of early 20th century American men. It’s not as though this fear is gone, as most recently it has been resurgent in Texas, where legislators have suddenly realized the horrible fate which awaits men exposed to the sexually inviting gyrations of high school cheerleaders. Yes, vamping is the expression of female desire aimed at a man for one purpose, to corrupt him by luring him into lust outside of procreative intention. Without this effort on the part of women, heterosexual men would never think for a second of sex.

So, the female angel starts playing coy, and Chaplin can’t resist. The flirtation continues, and eventually they are beginning to touch each other. That’s when her beau comes in, and he simply smiles and watches as the Tramp and his conqueror kiss. It takes another appearance by a devil to make the husband jealous. He starts a fight with Chaplin, and winds up shooting him dead.

Theologically, I don’t know what’s going on here. We’re in a realm of angels subject to temptation and capable of being killed, not to mention killing. Naturally, young Coogan discovers the body and bawls his eyes out.

Don’t worry, though, because it’s after this that Chaplin wakes up, and gets escorted back to the arms of his young charge, who is also reunited with the mother who gave him up after his birth. Interestingly enough, though beginning from unwed motherhood, she has managed to become a big theatrical star and a major giver of charity to poor children. Presumably, she will make life better for both Chaplin and the child, as she does live in a mansion. And, remember, it’s eight whole years before the stock market crash and everybody becomes miserable again.

“The Kid” is a tearjerker, but it’s a tearjerker with so much humanity, and so much heart, that you can easily gulp your way right past the parts where your emotions are being too tightly manipulated. Instead, just enjoy the interaction between a genius, and a precocious six-year-old kid. And, while you’re at it, enjoy the fact that this very same little boy would one day be Uncle Fester on “The Addams Family” TV show.

Monday, May 02, 2005

My Weekend of Culture

None of these events led to any full-blown essays, but I figured each was worth a little bit of comment.

Friday evening: “The Interpreter” at the Moolah Theatre. Sit in the front row couches about twenty feet away from the gigantic enormous screen at St. Louis’s coolest theatre, and you are practically in the movie. I could have climbed right into Nicole Kidman’s nostril or Sean Penn’s ear lobe, and ridden along as they danced around each other’s plot twists.

It took my wife and most other people who have seen this about thirty seconds to point out a half dozen possibly fatal flaws, but I was absolutely spellbound by this movie. It’s a riveting thriller with some incredible acting, and directing that doesn’t detract from the story in any way. Sydney Pollack is a pro, and he knows that all he has to do is let Kidman and Penn run with their roles. They’ll give you all the nuance you need.

All right, so he can’t resist throwing in some sentimental bits here and there, and the hint of a possible romance could be taken as overkill. (I chose to read that, though, as two people attracted to each other in the wrong time and for the wrong reasons, and aware that it would not be a great idea to pursue it.) But, really, if you just throw your head back and let it all flow over you, you’ll be far too tense with the action to worry about any of that. Either that, or I was too drunk to worry about it.

Saturday morning: “Hero Hawk and Open Hand,” St. Louis Art Museum. I knew enough to be aware there was a great Native American civilization at Cahokia, just a few miles up river from St. Louis, which flourished some 800 to 600 years ago, but which was pretty much gone by the time Spanish and French explorers arrived in this neck of the woods. But, I had no idea that Cahokia was just the epicenter of a whole bunch of mound-building towns that stretched as far west as Oklahoma, as far south as Texas, as far north as Ohio, and as far east as the Carolinas.

This exhibit collects hundreds of pieces from a number of sites around the country, ranging from arrow heads to vessels in the forms of animals, from round spherical throwing objects to intricately carved images on large sea shells. Most of these items served useful functions, though quite a few were ornamental variations of useful items.

I was struck by three things. First, the astounding depth of what has been left behind by these people, the signs of individual personalities in a variety of cultures which has survived over the centuries, was simply breathtaking. I hate the overuse of the word “awesome,” but I was truly in awe in the presence of these objects. Not because they were sacred, though some of them clearly were, but because they were so overwhelmingly, obviously human.

Second, these objects were stunningly beautiful in ways I’ve never encountered before. I read an article online the other day – and I’ve forgotten where, so I can’t link to it – about the often overlooked ability to simply bask in the presence of beauty. I was basking my ass off at the Art Museum, though. The shapes, the colors, the forms, the imagery, the patterns, holy moley! Very little of this bore any relationship to the arts and crafts of Native Americans I’ve seen over the years, but all of it was gorgeous.

Third, though not for the first time, I realized how fragile cultures can be. These people lived, loved, laughed, fought, killed, hunted, farmed, traded, built, played, worshipped, and passed time believing they were carrying on in the way things had always been and would always be. And yet, over the last 2000 years, whole civilizations would come and go again and again in the parts of the world where these artifacts were found. It can and will happen again to us, of course, which only makes the lives we lead all that more important to us as we live them. We’re walking in some amazing footprints in this part of the world. It’s sobering to realize we weren’t first, and we won’t be last.

Saturday night: “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” After a morning encounter with the sublime, it was time to look at some excellent idiocy. We rented this flick after hearing nothing but rave reviews about it. While not quite as perfect as “Dude, Where’s My Car,” this definitely ranks up there with the great stoner movies of all time. It’s a buddy movie and a journey movie, but the buddies are stoned, and their goal is merely to get to White Castle. Along the way, they encounter many mishaps, and learn much about themselves. But, really, they mostly just act crazy, and refuse to let anything get them down. We watched this while drinking wine, which seemed to put us in just as much of a giggling fit as pot would have.

Sunday night: Wayne Hancock at Beale on Broadway. It was my friend Heather’s birthday, so we joined her and a whole lot of other people in this funky little (literally little) bar down by Busch Stadium. I’d never seen Hancock before, but I’d always liked what I’d heard on the radio. This guy somehow managed to get ahold of the preserved vocal chords of Hank Williams and get them implanted in his throat.

The songs were great, a mix of classic honky tonk and hillbilly stuff with Hancock’s own derivations on same, his singing was unbelievably perfect. But, and this is the reason I mention this show, I was especially blown away by the lead guitar playing of Eddie Biebel. I don’t know much about him except that he plays with Hancock as often as possible, which means if you like Telecaster players with the cleanest, richest tone you’ve ever heard and an imagination that links together every idea ever played on a guitar in Nashville between 1945 and 1965, you owe it to yourself to catch this guy in concert.