Sunday, January 6, 2013

So You Want to be a Rock 'n' Roll Star?


A Treat for Garage Band Members of a Certain Age

By Skip Sheffield

If you were in a band back in the 1960s, you will really relate to “Not Fade Away.”
I was and I did. However my companion, a woman 15 years younger than I, couldn’t see what the big deal was.
“Not Fade Away” is a highly personalized memoir by “Sopranos” creator David Chase, 67.
Chase, who is two years older than I, dreamed of being a star drummer in a rock ‘n’ roll band. As a teenager he played the sock hops, keggers and teen clubs of suburban New Jersey.
As a teenager I did the same thing, only in South and Central Florida. Like Chase I was strongly influenced by the “British Invasion” bands such as the Beatles, Kinks, Animals and Rolling Stones.
The latter group did a version of the Buddy Holly song “Not Fade Away,” which gives the film its title. Wouldn’t you know my most successful group played that very song. It was a showcase song with me up front singing and shaking my maracas like Mick Jagger.
Neither Chase nor I became rock stars, but we still have a profound love for the music of our high school and college era. In my case I continue to play, more for love than money.
So I am a big sucker for Chase’s story of a garage band’s struggles, dreams and disappointments. The main character is Douglas (John Magaro), an ambitious curly-haired drummer who discovers he is more valuable as a singer.
Douglas’ best girlfriend and No. 1 fan is the willowy, winsome Grace (Bella Heathcote), who looks like a cross between Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy. Those were “Mod Era” fashion models for those too young to know. If Grace weren't based on Chase's real-life wife I would say she is too good to be true.
The band has its typical squabbles, rivalries, misunderstandings and betrayal by music promoters. Some band members always dream bigger than others and some are more single-minded in their career pursuit. Then there are the inevitable objections of parents, played by James Gandolfini and Molly Price, who can’t understand why their nice boy wants to be such a noisy ruffian.
This is probably not so interesting for those who have never been there, but believe me, Chase’s fable rings true in a fleeting, melancholy way. No, it will not fade away for me either, forever.

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