The 15 best musical movies and TV shows of 2021
Torn freeways (catering) / Without getting killed or caught
The history of country music is riddled with legends, folklore, and storytelling, and that’s part of the allure. As much as we listen to the songs themselves, as much as we listen to the stories around them: it’s hard to hear Hank Williams without thinking about his tragic death, or to consider David Allan Coe without exploring his bizarre (and probably exaggerated) biography. Documentary cinema offers a unique ability to go beyond the stories transmitted, to hear the original stories of the artists themselves. This is what makes James Szalapski Torn freeways such an essential artifact. The film brings together performances and conversations from a wide range of singer-songwriters across the country ‘outlaw’ movement, from the tender poetry of Townes Van Zandt, to the ex-prison concert. -inmate Coe, at loud jam sessions featuring Guy Clark and barely post-teen Steve Earle. Originally released in 1981, Torn freeways had become a cult item among outlaw country enthusiasts until a restoration and Blu-Ray release this year brought it to home video for the first time (it also airs on Showtime ).
In the meantime, a new film, Without getting killed or caught, explores one of the central figures of Torn freeways, Guy Clark, the creator of words behind oft-repeated songs like “LA Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for a Train”. More than telling the biography of Clark itself, the film uses his life to push back another often obscured layer of country music history: the important contributions of women. Sissy Spacek reads the words and inhabits the voice of Guy’s partner Susanna, who not only did the emotional and literal work of maintaining a house filled with unruly and constantly scrambling musicians, but was an accomplished songwriter in her own right. on the right, and painted the stunning covers of country classics like Willie Nelson’s Stardust and Emmylou Harris’ Quarter moon in a city of dimes. –Nadine Smith