Tuesday night, I sat through the two-hour, six-string cinematic wankfest known as “Crossroads 2010,” the concert movie that documents Eric Clapton’s annual guitar throwdown of the same name. Today I’m going to tell you everything you need to about know the movie.
This will save you the price of a ticket, plus 120 minutes of your life. It will also save you the five bucks you would have spent on that family-size box of peanut M&Ms you bought because you got totally blazed in the parking lot before the movie. And how do I know a family-size box of peanut M&Ms costs five bucks? Listen, I’m doing you a huge favor here, so how ’bout you mind your own business, huh?
First off, let me say the good stuff was really good – bordering on transcendent, in fact. Derek Trucks, who can usually be found filling Duane Allman’s old slot in the Allman Brothers Band, plays slide guitar like a man possessed. He’s one of those rare players who make it look effortless as he blows your ears off.
Likewise, Steve Winwood’s set with Clapton was sublime. Their cover of Blind Faith’s “Had To Cry Today” preserved the spirit of the original without being a rote recitation. And their version of Jimi Hendrix’s 15-minute “Voodoo Child” jam was nothing short of a revelation (Winwood, of course, played on the original).
And, since this was Chicago, Buddy Guy was on hand to school the kids on how it’s done.
Had the rest of the players lived up to this admittedly high standard, the movie would have been epic. However …
I’m not sure how a lot of the musicians got picked, because they clearly didn’t belong in the same area code as Clapton, much less on the same bill.
Let’s begin with Sheryl Crow; what is she doing at a guitar fest – especially playing a keyboard? Sure, she looked smokin’ hot in her short, tight skirt but … oh, hey, never mind.
And how about Doyle Bramhall II (that’s right “II” – not “Junior” but “II,” like he’s a king or something). Like Jimi Hendrix, he plays a Fender. And, like Hendrix, he plays left-handed. Sadly, that’s where the Hendrix parallels end. And while I’m not a songwriter, I do know that “Yeah yeah yeah yeah” is a refrain and not a verse. And it’s certainly not two verses – unless you’re Doyle Bramhall II.
And who the hell is Citizen Cope? His song was two chords and nine words, apparently repeated (and I say “apparently” because I think I slipped into a coma at some point) for about 45 minutes.
In the right hands, two chords and nine words can make a compelling song (and if you’re Richie Havens they can make an entire career). However, those hands are not at the end of Citizen Cope’s arms. Seriously — this guy looked like he had wandered in from the Special Guitar Olympics and no one had the heart to chase him off.
Another puzzler for me was John Mayer. Yeah, he’s got the looks and the moves, but to my ear he borrows too heavily from Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. On the other hand, he’s seen Jennifer Aniston naked. Still — being a guitar god may make you a lucky bastard, but being a lucky bastard does not make you a guitar god.
All told, it’s not a bad movie – it’s just too long. My advice is to rent it. And remember: one of our greatest evolutionary gifts – one of the things that set us apart from other primates – is our opposable thumbs. With these, we can grasp tools, shape the world around us and, most importantly, work the fast-forward button.