Wednesday, August 5, 2015

100 Words on ... Heartworn Highways

Shot in the mid-70s, Heartworn Highways is a bittersweet amble down memory lane for lovers of the “outlaw country” movement. Mumblemouthed good ol’ boy Mack McGowan provides a little perspective, explaining that the Grand Ol’ Opry had “gotten a little bit snobbish” and the outlaws got back to the basics. But mostly, the film sidesteps explication—the musicians generally aren’t even identified until the final credits—to deliver a nearly nonstop stream of songs, interspersed with anecdotes and observations, from the likes of Guy Clark (soulful), David Allen Coe (hitting the bad-boy chord a tad too hard) and Townes Van Zandt (sweetly funny and searingly poetic).  
The filmmaking is often clunky, with way too many drab shots of or from the road. But all is forgiven when a beautiful young Steve Earle holds the other musicians around the kitchen table spellbound during the long, drunken jam session that ends this tender time capsule.

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