Nashville Dreams

Ultra-obscure '70s country music doc resurfaces

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Since it was made in 1975, James Szalapski’s documentary about the set of young country songwriters who in the early ’70s turned their back on mainstream Nashville has assumed classic status?largely, you imagine, because it has been so rarely seen. I saw it in 1976, at a press screening to which about four other people turned up?country music of any description back then utterly unfashionable. I was fascinated by it, though, since it offered a rare, early glimpse of performers I had lately been listening to a lot, principal among them Guy. Clark and the great Townes Van Zandt.

What seemed odd about the film then and seems even odder now, however, is its complete lack of context and explanation?something that will surely baffle anyone coming to it without prior knowledge of the people in it, especially since most of them are even less well known today than they were 30 years ago.

Whatever its narrative failings, the film is still worth five stars if only for the footage of Clark, Van Zandt, a very young Steve Earle and a fabulous sequence in the pool room of old geezer’s hangout The Wigwam Tavern that looks like something from a David Lynch movie.


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