The ten best rock docs of all time (in my humble opinion)

Hopefully it’s pretty obvious from watching my three music documentaries (Color Me Obsessed, What Did You Expect, and Every Everything) that I’m not a fan of VH1-style where-are-they-now rock docs. In fact it’s pretty rare that I find a rock doc that catches my attention. Too many are made by fans that think their favorite band can do no wrong, too many feel like 90-minute music videos with wall-to-wall music, too many refuse to address elephants in the room like drug addiction or issues with record labels. I don’t watch a rock doc because I love the artist, I watch a rock doc wanting to see a great story, told by a filmmaker who actually knows what a three-act structure is, and who isn’t afraid to piss people off.

That said, here is my ten best rock doc list, in somewhat of an order:

The Devil and Daniel Johnston – Not only the greatest rock doc ever made, one of the greatest films of all time. A breathtaking look into the mind of a genius madman (or a madman genius?), the film presents Johnston with his mental illness very much intact. Heartbreaking one moment, hysterical the next, you feel as if your watching a living breathing train wreck as painted by Van Gogh. You just cannot look away.


I Am Trying To Break You Heart – The filmmaking Gods were smiling down on filmmaker Sam Jones when he entered the studio with Wilco as they recorded their fourth album. Packed with pissing-match drama, the film captures the firing of the one bandmember who kept leader Jeff Tweedy in check, the dropping of the band from their label, the signing of the band by a new label owned by the same parent company, all while recording a record that topped virtually every top ten list for the year, in glorious black and white. Whew!

Stop Making Sense – Jonathan Demme’s film of Talking Heads’ 1983 tour is the greatest concert film ever made. No other concert film even comes close. Every other concert film is a snoozefest compared to this. (Am I making myself clear?) This is a masterpiece even for people who hate Talking Heads. This is genius filmmaking.

Anvil, the Story of Anvil – A real life Spinal Tap, a film that is so often cringe-worthy in the best way, a portrait of two life-long friends, two true believers. It feels real on too many levels because we all have musician friends who refuse to give up on the dream. Here are the poster boys. May they never give up.

Last Days Here – Quite possibly the greatest anti-drug film of all time, the story of Pentagram lead singer Bobby Liebling, a crack-addict living in his parents basement, and the one superfan who believes desperately that he can revive Bobby’s career. You will find yourself screaming at your tv, especially when you get to the film’s final act. A great film.

Shut Up And Sing

Shut Up & Sing – The backlash against The Dixie Chicks when they publicly insulted then President George W. Bush. Very much a look at the inherent sexism in the music industry and how it would have been fine for someone like Springsteen or Neil Young to speak the same words. Instead Natalie Maines and company received death threats and boycotts. Ultimately a story of triumph as their next record, “Taking the Long Way,” became the band’s best selling record.

DIG! – Seven years in the life of two bands who start out as friends. One becomes a bland sellout, the other remains difficult and brilliant and always on the brick of self-imploding. A wonderful look at art vs. commerce, selling out vs. sticking to your beliefs, and how there really are a lot of dickheads in rock and roll.

Don’t Look Back/No Direction Home – Two great films on Bob Dylan, which are so very much the complimentary opposite sides of the same coin. The first is probably the granddaddy of all rock docs with its iconic music video of Dylan flipping the clue cards during “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” And in the other Martin Scorsese gives us a three-hour plus look at one of the most important burst of musical genius the world has ever known. It could have been a boring mess, instead it is riveting from start to finish.

The Punk Singer – I truly love this warts and all portrait of Bikini Kill front woman Kathleen Hanna. The footage is amazing, Hanna is smart and captivating. You walk away finally understanding the Riot Grrrl movement, and digging Bikini Kill like you never thought possible.


Theremin, An Electronic Odyssey – It’s as if Ken Burns decided to make a film about the strangest musical instrument of all time, starring a Russian inventor named Leonard Theremin, who in many ways was one of the first true rock stars. A completely entertaining bit of music history that you might not need to know, but you will be glad you do.

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The Tale of the Broken Neck

I spent a good portion of the past three weeks shooting WHO IS LYDIA LOVELESS?, which will be either my 13th or 14th completed feature film (depending on whether this or PIZZA, A LOVE STORY is completed first), and while I could share stories about the candid and amazing interviews with Lydia and her bandmates, or what a thrill it was to watch them record their new record, how freakin’ funny they all are, or even just how damn nice everyone is, I will instead share this.

The tale of the broken neck.

My crew arrived in Lydia’s hometown on Columbus on Sunday, June 14th, just in time to see Lydia and company perform at a free show.  But because of the ridiculous lack of cover on the stage, and the fact that is rained virtually every day I was in Ohio (and apparently always does in June), the show was a disaster waiting to happen.  Gear got wet, sound issues abounded because electronics don’t like getting wet, basically it was a cluster fuck on the part of the promoter.

When everything was finally working, and there was a break in the rain, an extremely frustrated Lydia and company managed to pull off their song “Wine Lips” (sweetly dedicated to a young fan), and a small part of another song before the clouds let loose with a torrential downpour.  Ben moved fastest, getting his upright bass under a tarp.  But as one of the dozens seemingly “in charge” of the event ran onto the stage and cancelled the concert, Lydia, completely frustrated by the events, threw her beloved Telecaster to the ground in anger.

For me, a lover of chaos in rock and roll it was a beautiful way to begin the trip.  My 5th Lydia show, only a song and a half long.  And as me and my crew walked back to the rental Jeep in the pouring rain, I couldn’t wait for the interviews to begin.

And this story might have ended there…

Until the next morning when I get to Lydia’s and Ben’s home, and checking out her office where the first of many interviews would be filmed, I picked up the Tele, making some stupid comment to Lydia about how indestructible they are.  And then it became obvious.  I noticed.  She noticed.  Fuck!  The neck of her favorite guitar was cracked.  Not a small repairable crack.  But cracked through and through on the headstock.

Now in my life I have certainly put my foot in my mouth many times.  But I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse about calling attention to anything.  Here we are about to begin the interviews, while I can see how truly upset she is about her guitar.  I felt terrible, even though I played no part in breaking it.

In the end of course, the guitar was quickly fitted with a gorgeous new neck.  The interviews were everything I wanted them to be and more.  I learned for the 1,843rd time this year to think before I speak.  And Lydia posted this on her Facebook page with a picture of the new neck: “New neck for my main squeeze. My guitar tossing days are over ‪#‎trymeditationforanger‬ ‪#‎onepunchloveless‬ ‪#‎whoamikidding‬

I even got to take home a little souvenir.

I don’t really collect much memorabilia anymore.  I have a few items from my favorites bands (y’know, The Mats, Archers, Wilco), but none of them have the meaning of this broken neck.

It sits now at the entrance to my office, the first thing I see every time I enter.

And it truly does represent the most rock and roll way imaginable to begin this film.

Broken Guitar Neck-small


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An open letter to my Color Me Obsessed fans


I think I can probably qualify as a pretty big Replacements fan. I’ve loved them since about 1983. Have gone to every tour since, including every solo tour. So having watched and listened to Paul and company for that long I find myself not bothered one microscopic bit by this co-called break-up announcement. Why? you might ask. Because it’s the fucking Replacements. They live to fuck with us. That’s part of why we love them. Is there a more sarcastic genius on the planet than Paul? NO, there isn’t. So, my advice: everyone unruffle your panties, sit back, and wait. In the mean time, enjoy the music as you always have, enjoy the onslaught of live videos posted on YouTube, and be patient. What makes for great rock and roll is that you never know what’s going to happen next. And here we are…

Gorman Bechard
director, Color Me Obsessed



Filed under Color Me Obsessed, paul westerberg, replacements, replacements reunion

An update that’s long overdue…

It’s been months and I apologize.

First off thank you to everyone who made the “Who is Lydia Loveless?” KickStarter such a success.  You guys rock.  As will this film.  We’ve set up a website here.

As I write this I’m listening to the gorgeous 6-LP “Live at Carnegie Hall” box set from Ryan Adams.  While I haven’t been in love with Ryan’s newest records, live he still astounds.  And live solo, he takes your breath away.  This is a truly magnificent record.

Ryan Adams

We’ve got a lot of film news.  Getting ready for the “A Dog Named Gucci” sound mix.  The closing credits song, which I’ve been hinting at for over a year is done.  It’s beautiful.  It will make you cry.  Dean Falcone did a brilliant job of bringing together this amazing collection of vocalists and musicians.  He’s my music producer of the year.  Wait until you see the list of people involved.  Wait until you hear the song!  Where and when you can see the film will be announced soon.  Keep an eye on the website.

And if you clicked that link, you noticed that we are throwing our second documentary film party in New Haven this June.  Yes, NHdocs returns.  For three days this time around.  So much bigger!  Admission is still free.  If you are in Connecticut, come and enjoy a collection of amazing documentaries.

Yes, “A Dog Named Gucci” is screening…but immediately before it we will present the World Premiere of the trailer for “Pizza, A Love Story,” our upcoming documentary on the holy trinity of pizza (Sally’s, Pepe’s, Modern).  Time to get excited.

We’ve also got two new films that we’ll be announcing soon…one that takes us back to Minneapolis, and the other…well, let’s just keep that one a secret for now.  Let’s just say it’s very “smart.”

All for now.  Thank you for reading…

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Lydia Loveless rocks her own documentary from COLOR ME OBSESSED director Gorman Bechard


COLUMBUS, OH & NEW HAVEN, CT: Filmmaker Gorman Bechard, who has chronicled three of the most influential bands in the history of rock and roll with documentaries about The Replacements, Archers of Loaf, and Hüsker Dü’s Grant Hart is turning his camera towards the future with his next film, WHO IS LYDIA LOVELESS?

KickStarter Main Image-3-HR

The feature-length documentary will follow Lydia Loveless and her band into the studio as they lay down tracks for their forthcoming record. Along with live performances shot specifically for the film and extensive interviews with Loveless and her band it will visit places integral to her musical development, delve into the realities of a working musician on the brink of major success, and answer the question: Who Is Lydia Loveless?

“Lydia is the future of rock and roll,” director Bechard explains. “She straps you onto an emotional roller coaster of love, lust, drunken mistakes, a little stalking, a lot of heartbreak, and you’re left breathless, stunned, happy to have taken the ride.”

Music journalists from SPIN to Rolling Stone have likewise raved, with her last album SOMEWHERE ELSE finding its way onto many of 2014’s Best Album lists.

“I’m excited to work with Gorman,” says Loveless. “He’s very passionate about music and about the true meaning and spirit of rock and roll.”

Bechard’s three previous music docs have all won critical praise. Rolling Stone called COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS one of “The Seven Best New Music Documentaries of the Year.” The Seattle Times raved about the “raw power and mesmerizing hooks” in his Archers of Loaf concert film WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? While EVERY EVERYTHING: THE MUSIC, LIFE & TIMES OF GRANT HART was labeled “beautifully sad” by The Village Voice.

“We have an AMAZING collection of rewards,” the director explains, “including a Lydia Loveless performance at your house for you and your friends.  If I weren’t running this KickStarter I would so be backing the project at that level.  Thankfully the reward includes a screening of the film, so I’ll get to be there.”

WHO IS LYDIA LOVELESS? will be funded via a KickStarter campaign that runs through March 18th. The KickStarter campaign can be found HERE.

Filming is slated for spring and summer 2015, with a premiere planned for 2016.

For more information please visit:




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Filmmakers: Read the Rules Before You Submit!

A little rant, and hopefully if you’re reading this, you already know better. But perhaps you know someone who should read it. If so, do every festival programmer a favor and pass it on.

As you may or may not know, I am co-director of the NHdocs Film Festival at Yale. We are planning our second event for this June, and just signed on to FilmFreeway so people can submit their films.

Now, despite it stating that we were seeking Connecticut films and/or films from Connecticut filmmakers only in THREE different spots on our page (take a look HERE), out of the 12 films that were submitted in the first 24 hours, all were disqualified because the filmmakers didn’t bother reading the rules. Not a one had any connection to Connecticut. Not even in the most remote way.

Not here is something to take to heart, because it is an absolute fact. If you have ever submitted to a festival without reading the rules and regulations, you are a fucking idiot. Period. End of story. I would smack you upside the head and break your camera if I could.

If you have spent all the time it takes to actually make a film, you should be looking for the right home for your baby. Sort of like finding the right college for your teenager. You should read everything there is to know about any fest that you’re considering. Look at what films have played in previous years. You should feel in your gut that yes, your film is a fit, and that the programmers will like it. You still might not get accepted, but at least you’ve done your homework.

If you don’t, you are wasting everyone’s time.

I reached out to a few of my programming friends this morning to vent. And every single one said it happens all the time. Many do not read the rules, or care what the festival is looking for.

If you’re one of these idiots, shame on you. You’re officially too stupid to make another film. Time to go back to bagging my groceries.

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The World Premiere of A DOG NAMED GUCCI

It’s that time again.

I am very excited to announce the World Premiere of our film A Dog Named Gucci.

It will be screening at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival at the historic Wilma Theatre in downtown Missoula, Montana on Saturday, February 14th at 3:30 PM. Can you think of a better day to fall in love with Gucci?

A Dog Named Gucci the story of a puppy set on fire and the brave man who came to his rescue. But for rescuer Doug James, saving Gucci was just the beginning. Together they would forge a forever bond of devotion and perseverance and work to change the non-existent animal cruelty laws in their home state, proving that justice is a dog’s best friend.

Instead of assaulting the viewer with images of abused animals, we chose to tell what is ultimately a happy and uplifting story of one abuse victim who went on to become a hero. This is a triumphant tale. It’s a film that makes you open your eyes without ever making you turn away. And while Gucci might begin his life as Blackfish, he’s a fighter, and in the end he becomes Rocky.

The film also spotlights three other dogs who, with their owners, have made an incredible impact on the laws protecting animals. These include Susie from North Carolina, who has that state’s felony abuse law named in her honor, and who was just named the Hero Dog of the Year by the American Humane Association; Louis Vuitton from Alabama, the first dog to test the Gucci Law; and Nitro from Queens, New York whose ultimate sacrifice in an Ohio kennel led to the state’s first felony animal abuse laws.

It all grew out of the love for our own rescue dogs.  It’s a highly emotional film because so many people don’t realize the extent of the abuse in the United States. I’ve seen tears, anger, and people just needing to hug their own dog.

Save the date and spread the word.

The info is HERE.

Get your tickets HERE.

Love this town! Love this festival! And the Wilma rocks!!!

Click on the poster to check out our Facebook page.

Click on the poster to check out our Facebook page.

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Filed under animal abuse, animal rights, animal shelters, animal welfare, documentaries, dogs