Long after a breakup, sometimes people are compelled to drag out that dusty box in the back of their closet and go through it picture by picture examining each memory, mournfully recalling the past. This is what Dave Grohl (of Nirvana and The Foo Fighters) does in his Sundance documentary, “Sound City.” Grohl dusts off the stories of some of the greatest moments behind the grungy recording studio in Van Nuys for which the film is named, lovingly looking back on its history.
In that small dirty place in the Valley, musical legends such as Johnny Cash, Foreigner, Nirvana, and Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers made some of their most famous albums. As Grohl unearths the emotional stories of artists that have recorded there, it begins to feel as though he, along with his interviewees, are going through a communal breakup with Sound City, lamenting the loss of an institution that was so instrumental in their lives.
Grohl’s film about that special time in music when analog was the only way to go, is told with a bittersweet mix of potent nostalgia and wistful reminiscence. As the featured musicians all bemoan the digitization of music and the end of their favorite scruffy recording space, the film plays as an ode to music’s past; a regretful eulogy of an era of passion, talent and gritty obsession for musical perfection.
The conversation Grohl has with his iconic interviewees about Sound City opens the door to a dialogue on the seemingly absent human element in music today. Though at times the film can come across as overly righteous, viewers (especially old-school musicians and fans) will see this as justified. This movie is for anyone who actively hates the term “auto-tune” and who (spoiler alert) wants to see what it might be like if, say, PaulMcCartney jammed with Nirvana.
Click here to see if “Sound City” will be playing near you.
By: Darianne Dobbie