Music can inspire us, break our hearts and make our souls soar to dizzying heights. The popularity of the recently released biopic Bohemian Rhapsody is just one example of how we continue to be fascinated by the lives of artists that create music. Quite often the music that we hear has an incredible story and journey behind it that is desperate to be told. Here are three insightful music documentaries that will take your breath away and certainly make you want to buy the soundtrack.
Beware of Mr. Baker
The enigmatic Cream and Blind Faith Drummer drummer, Ginger Baker is the subject of this fascinating documentary, charting his rise and fall over the past 40 years. Produced by Erik Gordon, the movie has proved its integrity with the public and has 98% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. There are plenty of interviews with some of the music greats, including of course Eric Clapton, Lars Ulrich, Johnny Rotten and Charlie Watts. Baker’s children and his 4 wives also have plenty to contribute to the documentary. The portrait painted of Baker is wild, sad, mad, inspired and sometimes hilarious. However, his challenging behaviour and mood swings, sometimes even violent, cause a lot of controversy. Particularly as they may be linked to his heroin addiction. Beware Mr Baker is certainly a no-holds-barred documentary that will keep you guessing.
Amy, directed by Asif Kapadia’s movie about British singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse is a masterclass in documentary making. It is fascinating to see Amy in so many home videos when she was young and her career was just on the cusp. Her improvisational skills and jazz technique were very underrated. There are some incredibly insightful interviews with Amy’s family and friends and plenty of previously unseen footage. Towards the end of the documentary you can see how her life becomes unhinged, heartbreaking to watch. This intimate portrait of her life makes you feel as though you are sharing the experience firsthand – it is no wonder that it is the highest grossing British documentary to date.
What Happened Miss Simone?
This 2015 American documentary follows the life of Nina Simone, a classically trained pianist, blues singer and songwriter – dubbed the “High Priestess of Soul.” The aim of the film was to let Simone’s personality and talent shine through, without glossing over traits and behaviour, which at time could be challenging. There is lots of rare footage from the archives, as well as some fascinating interviews. On stage Simone thrives, but her personal life was often sad and at many times lonely. There are at times some jarring insights into her thought processes and beliefs. In saying this, the legacy that Simone leaves behind will influence generations of musicians for decades to come. She was simply mesmerizing and has gifted us hundreds of recordings that we will never forget.
Next time you listen to your favorite album, think of the story that is behind it. These three documentaries were inspired by the journeys that these artists took in order to create some incredible music.