"...stories were everything and everything was stories."
So I spent the unholy hours of the early morning watching 'Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus'
(nice website for the film right here.)
which is essentially a guided tour of the dirty south and what it means, once meant and will never mean from the most well versed of tour guides, Mr Jim White.
First then, Jim White. Calling him a singer/songwriter is doing the guy a complete disservice. Jason Mraz is a singer/songwriter. That ginger bloke that never has a bath is a singer/songwriter*. James Blunt is a singer/songwriter. What i'm trying to say is that term no longer conjures up images of Guthrie, Dylan and Cohen does it? I'm rambling here. Jim White makes extremely interesting music that is rooted in alternative country leanings but he definitely isn't afraid of experimentation. Musically, lyrically and everything else-ally. They're as quotable as they are hummable and that's a rare talent.
'Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus' is joyous in the way it intersperses often surreal narratives with pop up surprise perfomances from a stellar array of musicans that just fit the feel of the film and the air of the south like a tailored glove. The Handsome Family, 16 Horsepower, Gospel churches. All the good stuff is here and it's often interwoven with tales as tall and as old as the hills. You get the ancient banjo player who only started playing when his Pa's arms were blown off by a stick of dynamite down the mine. You get the girl who saw a guy possessed by the Devil with her own eyes. Sin, redemption, life, death. It's the kinda things the South (and more particularly music from that geographical location) has always dealt with in such a unique and engaging manner and the mythology, narratives and discourse that i'm just a damn sucker for.
White hangs the thing together so well and Andrew Douglas' production is beautifully structured and set. For me though, it's the pace of the film and how it is so crucially on the money that makes 'Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus' such a compelling watch. Well, that and the fact that the subject(s) included are as memorable as the stories, songs and lives the place has been home to.
This great scene below sums up the film well I think. Starring Harry Crews (just made for a documentary like this), a nice little performance from White of his own 'The Wound That Never Heals' taken from the fantastic 'No Such Place' (Luaka Bop:2001) and a grieving mother amongst other things. "Lookin' for the gold tooth in God's crooked smile..." indeed.
*Newton Faulkner. Thanks Uncle Google. Just full of useful information.