Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The Commitments” (1991):
When I think of soul music, I think of Sam Cooke, Sam and Dave, Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding , Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, James Brown and a long list of other African-American musicians. And The Commitments. The Commitments?
Ireland is not known for soul music. Oh, sure. It’s had its share of blues musicians. Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher come to mind. But soul music? Nope. That is, not until The Commitments.
If you were living in a working class neighborhood of Dublin, what kind of band would you want to put together? Maybe a blues band or something folky. Surely not a soul band.
The thing is that Soul isn’t just about music. It is about the feeling that comes with the music. A feeling that no other music brings to a person quite the way Soul does. It rises up from the toes through the body and comes out a thing of beauty.
If ever there was a movie about the guts and the bravado of creating a band from absolutely nothing, “The Commitments” is it. Jimmy Rabbitte has no musical ability. But he’s in love with the music. So why not form a band and manage it? That’s just what Jimmy Rabbitte does. It’s his way out of the working class trap of a neighborhood he lives in. He’s walking around Dublin. All he hears are bad imitations of bad imitations of folk and rock ‘n’ roll. Pop bands, playing weddings, like And And And.
He wants his band to “speak the language of the street and it should be about struggle and sex.” There’s only one kind of music that does that, according to Jimmy Rabbitte. Soul. He’s going to get his band. There’s nothing that’s going to stop him. Not the singers who audition, some okay and some really bad. Not the lack of musical instruments. Not even the resistance of the band members themselves.
To paraphrase the Blues Brothers, Jimmy Rabbitte is “on a mission from God”. He’s out to bring hope to the working class streets of Dublin in the form of a music that can save the soul and quench its thirst for something better. To help Jimmy out, the Good Lord sends him a trumpet player name of Joey “The Lips” Fagan. Before you can say “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, he’s put together him a band, The Commitments: The Hardest Working Band in the World ‘cause Jimmy Rabbitte is the hardest working manager in the world. The band is on its way and there is only thing that will stop it. The band.
Roddy Doyle gave us the novel. Alan Parker gives us the movie. So say it loud and say it proud. The Commitments are out to conquer Dublin. Or at least their neighborhood.
Who is your favorite soul singer?