Fascinated by music documentaries

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Tuesday night I took time to watch a documentary on the late George Martin on a satellite channel called AXS.

For those of you too young to know and those too old to remember, George Martin was the producer of the Beatles’ records and albums with the possible exception of “Let It Be,” and I may get some arguments on that. The man called the “fifth Beatle” by Paul McCartney was known for producing the records of many well-known artists, but his work with the Beatles is what made him famous worldwide.

The George Martin documentary is one of several I’ve watched over the past few months, and I’ve found many of them fascinating. I’ve always enjoyed biographical films and I’ve always been curious about how these groups formed and how they produced the music that I listened to and enjoyed in my younger years and still enjoy today.

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I guess this interest in rock biographies began several years ago when I picked up a copy of Keith Richards’ autobiography “Life” during a used book sale at the library. Given the legends about how the lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones lived, I wanted to see how someone survived a life of drugs and alcohol abuse and scandalous living. What I got was a new appreciation of the group’s music and respect for the musicians’ talent.

One of the more tragic stories I’ve seen was the documentary on Queen, mainly because of the death of Freddie Mercury. I know some of you will criticize that because he died of AIDS, but I follow Duke Ellington’s philosophy that there are only two kinds of music, good and bad, and when it comes to music I look past a person’s religion, politics and sexual orientation.

I am a Queen fan, and my favorite song is “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I was amazed at the story how that song came about, and the battle the group had to fight to get the song, that is now a classic and one of the greatest rock songs ever, on the album “Night at the Opera.”

I guess one reason I enjoy watching these documentaries is because I’ve always been curious of how these groups came together and how some managed to stay together despite the stress of life on the road and the pressure to produce that next hit record.

As a journalist, I write about people, and I’ve always been interested in relationships and human interaction. My favorite movie, “Casablanca,” is primarily about the complex relationship between three people. I guess that’s why I find the documentaries, and biographical films and series like the BBC miniseries about Queen Victoria, fascinating.

I want to see what their lives were like, and the combination of personalities and attitudes of the people in a rock band is an interesting study in relationships.

Rock groups are a part of our history, and I guess that’s why I watch rock —or any documentary — so I won’t forget our past.

John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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