SEGUE OF THE DAY (11/17/12)

Lincoln/Percy Sledge

The second half of the FSU/Maryland game provided a nice opportunity for a nap on my game-watching companion’s lovely couch (thanks MG).

Woke up refreshed and decided to make the trek to the mall and experience Lincoln–Steven Spielberg director, Tony Kushner screenwriter, cast full of heavy hitters among whom Sally Field figured to be the relaxed one, I assumed “experience” was the operative word–on the big screen as God and the Founding Fathers so obviously intended.

Spielberg has claimed that he watches The Searchers before he begins work on each of his films. Quite often, encountering the resulting movie causes me to wonder: How is it that he can watch so often and still not see!

Once in a while, though, something rubs off and I must say quite a lot rubbed off this time.

It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s at least serious and–thanks to Daniel Day-Lewis being much lighter on his feet than I could have ever supposed based on my limited previous exposure to him (which, perhaps unfairly on my part, consisted only of his scenery-chewing in The Last of the Mohicans, plus some dreary stretches of Gangs of New York I caught on television one benumbed evening and the inevitable trailers for coming attractions that did not make me want to learn more)–for long periods, truly compelling.

When a modern theater is packed and nobody takes a bathroom break during a long movie mostly dedicated to backdoor political shenanigans, you know somebody is doing something right.

Satisfying experience then, even if touches were muffed here and there, usually by a Speilbergian resort to paint-by-numbers heavy-handedness that thuds all the more loudly after a long sequence of audience-trusting perfection (plus a needlessly annoying reliance on “time and place” subtitles….a-a-a-r-r-r-g-g-g-h-h-h, why, people, why?).

Got in the car to come home and, by coincidence, Percy Sledge’s 1994 CD Blue Night was in the CD player. I say “coincidence” because I’m doing some heavy lifting on Sledge in preparation for a future post (yes, dear readers, I take this gig seriously!)

The reasons Percy Sledge got to make a (pretty wonderful) CD in 1994 certainly included his talent and perseverance, but also the epochal impact of his smash, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” which was released a whole year after the legal wrangling that makes up most of Lincoln’s actual plot was finally concluded when Lyndon Johnson, using tactics his illustrious predecessor would have recognized in a heartbeat, won passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“When a Man Loves a Woman” could not have made the charts–let alone topped them–even five years earlier.

I mention this only because there are those–on all sides of the political spectrum–who wonder if rock and roll was really important, let alone necessary, either to cause change or validate it.

Me, I don’t wonder.

I just keep letting history remind me of itself.


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