The year music changed everything ” – Pasadena Star News
Think back to 1971 and some things immediately spring to mind: the Vietnam War. Richard M. Nixon’s presidency and, well, after that, the answers can start to burst in a hundred different directions.
Danielle Peck, one of the producers and directors of the documentary series “1971: The Year When Music Changed Everything” knows that the date of the title is not an obvious landmark in the course of popular music in the 20th century. .
But Peck, director-producer Asif Kapadia, and the rest of the show’s production crew, which arrives in full on the Apple TV + streaming service on Friday, May 21, are convinced they can change that.
“I mean, there was a lot going on,” Peck said, on a recent call with Kapadia from the UK. “People don’t remember. They remember 68 better, but 71 there was so much, a downfall of the 60s.
“So all the things that happened like Altamont, Kent State, Charles Manson, all these great stories from the late ’60s, they have their spinoffs and people are responding to them,” she says.
Throughout the eight parts of the series, episodes often open with a watershed moment that shows the 60s are over and 1971 is the start of something new.
“Therefore Alice cooper kind of responds to the horrors of the obscurity of Charles Manson, ”Peck says. “He was playing the game, but the people, the young people, are reacting to it.
“You have all the new voices,” she said. “David Bowie thinking, “I want to go to America where everything is happening.” He feels he can feed off that inspiration and then he brings it back to the UK.
“Then you have the Beatles, you have the Rolling Stones, you have Sly Stone, the doors, having all been the pilots of the ’60s and having come to a point, they ask themselves, “God damn it, what do we do next?”
“So Jim Morrison runs away to Paris and Sly Stone goes into his attic and the Stones have to go to France for tax reasons. They all have major changes in their lives and the music speaks of it.
Find new material
Kapadia has specialized in recent years in archival documentaries, films that avoid talking heads and narrators for archival films, video and still photography, with contemporary or newly recorded interviews.
In 2015, he and his frequent collaborator James Gay-Rees, who is also part of the “1971” team, won the Oscar for best documentary for “Amy”, their portrayal of the late singer Amy Winehouse.
The new series follows their proven practices from the past, including interviewing new voices to help weave the narrative. Chrissie Hynde of the suitors discusses the impact of the Kent State shootings in 1970 on music and culture; she was a student there at the time. Elton john talks about his explosion in stardom in 1971, just months after news of his arrival at the Troubadour in West Hollywood was announced.
“It’s a lot like being an investigative journalist or a journalist as much as you’re some sort of artist or filmmaker,” Kapadia says. “And all the processes are happening at the same time. We do interviews, research, find archives and edit. They all overlap.
The research spent many months digging deep for fresh pictures and photographs. Peck describes the excitement of following a short story in a music magazine to find out about a promotional movie set with Sly and the Family Stone that the band’s label forgot they had in the safe.
“Then there are some David Bowie stills that I just ran into that had never been seen before,” she says. “What was so fantastic about those is a really powerful streak in (episode) eight, where you see he’s in between his long, flowing Veronica Lake hairstyle and kind of Ziggy Stardust. He’s a pretty miserable mule, but David Bowie carries a mule particularly well.
“But it was fantastic because you can see this transition he makes between his romantic, long-haired look on rock star Ziggy Stardust. It’s in his haircut, and it’s in these stills that had never been seen before.
This kind of context – the Bowie chameleon to the point of getting rid of one skin for another – also works for the cultural and political images included in “1971”.
PBS’s groundbreaking 1971 documentary series “An American Family” and feminist writer Germaine Greer are included in an episode about the rising voices of strong women in music, such as Carole King and Joni Mitchell, who have released powerful albums personal in “Tapestry” and “Blue” that year.
Societal moments such as the civil rights movement’s shift from the nonviolence of the 1960s to the rise of the Black Panther movement are reflected in the 1971 releases of artists such as “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott -Heron or “This Is Madness” from the last poets.
“You always intend to find material that people have never seen before,” says Kapadia. “Or the material you may have seen will suddenly have a new meaning, or a new context, when used in this type of archival tapestry or mosaic only.”
“And that way it gets more emotional,” he says. “I think it’s getting deeper.”
The past is present
Peck laughs with pleasure when told that the girl in her twenties was fascinated by two episodes that spend time on Bowie.
“I think it’s a transgenerational series, so you just proved my theory,” she says.
“Parents will sit down with their kids to watch this,” Kapadia adds.
“1971” succeeds in its intention of not being a museum piece or a history lesson. The issues and interests that musicians explored 50 years ago remain important today.
“It feels like it’s going on right now,” Kapadia said. “Everything that’s going on around us in the world seems to be about the show. Suddenly I felt like it was so relevant.
With “What’s Going On” and “Superfly”, Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield released or recorded albums half a century ago that reflected concerns about issues of race and injustice to poverty and war, themes that resonate today with Public enemy at Kendrick Lamar.
In the series, the German band Kraftwerk is seen as they began to embrace the potential of electronic music. Not only are the many varieties of electronic music massive today, Kraftwerk is heading into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.
“The point of doing it in the archives is to put you in the present – to make a movie that goes back to 1971 and we live it, everything that happens, in the moment through the characters and their voices,” Kapadia says. . “They tell their story.”
And the music, of course, remains as powerful and popular in many ways as it was when it was first heard in 1971.
“We are all still listening to him; it’s not dated, ”Kapadia says. “What we’re going to understand is where it came from, what was going on around these artists, what inspired them.
“And we hope the show inspires people to do what these artists have done,” he says. “Write it, talk about it, paint it, talk about it, create poetry.
“Whatever you do, try to change what is going on that you are not happy with right now. Because that’s what these artists do.