THIS IS 40
Marrow of Their Bones: Music of the Comedy
When we met Pete five years ago, we only knew that he was in A&R at a big record label. Explains Apatow: "I had this idea that he had lost his job at the major label and would have been forced by the rough economy of the music business to try to start his own label. Most of the bands are ones he signed when he first started his career. He thinks there's a core group of people that are going to buy every Graham Parker record. What he discovers is that's not true. In the age of the music industry collapsing, guys who used to sell 100,000 records are now selling 20,000 or less. Pete must deal with the fact that the entire model for his record company doesn't work."
Rudd was already well acquainted with the selection of musicians Judd had in mind for the label. He says: "Judd and I are music fanatics. It was fun thinking of people who might be on Pete's label. We talked about Colin Hay, Grant-Lee Phillips, Bob Mould, Paul Westerberg, Frank Black-musicians we respect and who seem like viable acts for Pete's label. I knew Graham Parker, but wasn't completely familiar with all of his music. I had two of his CDs growing up, but that's it. When he came on board, I listened to a lot of his other music and, of course, I loved it."
Singer, songwriter and musician Graham Parker plays himself in the film. Discussing his involvement, he says: "I've been making albums since 1976, probably done about 20 by now with various outfits. My first band was Graham Parker & The Rumour [Steve Goulding, Andrew Bodnar, Martin Belmont, Bob Andrews and Brinsley Schwarz]. I recently got together the entire Rumour and made a new album after a gap of 31 years. Just after I firmed up the agreements, I was contacted by Judd, and he talked to me about this film and that Pete runs a record company, an indie label signing acts like me."
It proved to be a fortuitous conversation. Continues Parker: "I said, 'Guess what? I just put my band back together, The Rumour.' So not only does Pete sign me; he gets Graham Parker & The Rumour, the revival, with a brand new album. Everything fit together, and then Judd shocked me and said he wants me in the film, acting as myself, so that's why I joined all these talented people. It was a fantastic experience, and I'm very grateful."
Music supervisor/editor Jonathan Karp recalls the events: "Graham was Judd's first instinct. He talked about Graham so early in the first drafts that we had that idea going. Then we reached out to Graham. That's the magical part of this story." They felt Parker was a perfect fit for Pete's sensibilities. "We've always thought of Pete's label as a quality, boutique label where all the pressure is on him. The reasons for his struggle aren't the quality of what he's trying to do or the music; it's the state of the record industry. Some of these artists aren't top sellers, and it's tricky to make a living by doing a niche thing. Pete's problem is that his failing has more to do with his old-school approach."
One of the highlights of the shoot was the reunion concert, something many in the audience (and those on stage) had been waiting for years to see. "We shot a concert at the Belasco Theater," explains Apatow. "It was exciting because this is the first time Graham has played with his band from the '70s. The band flew in from all around the world and seemed to have a fantastic time. They played a lot of the greatest hits and a few songs from their new record. We're putting that record out when the movie comes out, so we're actually promoting a record in the movie that really exists."
"Everyone still plays amazingly," remarks Parker. "When we did the album, we locked together beautifully, and then on stage, boom, it's back again without the same angst, without the same dread. It was more like, 'Well, this is a hoot!' You don't have the same intensity you had when you're 27, and I sing differently now. It was more enjoyable to sing with my new tuneful voice that I've developed over the years from playing solo, and making sure I don't lose my voice on stage."
"One of the coolest things for any fan of Graham Parker & The Rumour is that they haven't played together in over 30 years," adds Rudd. "They were always the quintessential musician's band: loved by many musicians, but never a big success. The Rumour had this shell-shocked expression like 'What the hell? We are in a movie, and how did this happen?' They haven't played together in 30 years, but the chord progressions and musicianship is in the marrow of their bones. They were incredible."
Besides Parker and his work figuring into the plot of THIS IS 40, extensive new music was commissioned from other artists for the film and the soundtrack. Well before shooting began, Apatow reached out to musicians he admired, inviting them to collaborate on a musical identity for the film.
The filmmaker shared an early draft of the script with Fiona Apple, whose "Paper Bag" had previously appeared in Apatow's BRIDESMAIDS. She was inspired to write "Dull Tool," which is featured prominently in the film. The song found her reuniting with her former collaborator, super producer Jon Brion-who has also worked with such artists as Kanye West, Spoon, Aimee Mann and Best Coast. Brion, whose score and soundtrack work was twice nominated for Grammy Awards - in 1999 for MAGNOLIA and in 2004 for ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND - was then brought on to score the film and produce other artists for the soundtrack.
Norah Jones became involved after Apatow showed her rough early footage of THIS IS 40. Their ensuing discussions became part of the writing process for the song "Always Judging," which appears in the film as an instrumental, while the vocal version is on the soundtrack. She also adds backing vocals to Wilco's "I Got You," a new version of the band's 1996 song that was rerecorded especially for the film.
The legendary Lindsey Buckhingham of Fleetwood Mac was another key collaborator, recording three original songs for the soundtrack, all inspired by the film and written after discussions with Apatow. In addition to "Brother & Sister," which features vocals from Norah Jones, Buckingham contributed "Sick Of You" and "She Acts Like You."
Ryan Adams, who appears in THIS IS 40, recorded new versions of his songs "Shining Through The Dark" and "Lucky Now" for the soundtrack. Finally, Parker also contributed to the new song "What Do You Like?," which he recorded with Brion in Los Angeles and which features Brion's frequent collaborators Punch Brothers.
Rounding out the contributors to the THIS IS 40 soundtrack is an eclectic mix of talent. The artists include Yoko Ono ("I'm Your Angel"), Paul Simon ("Rewrite"), Paul McCartney ("Lunch Box Odd Sox"), Loudon Wainwright ("Days That We Die"), and the Avett Brothers ("Live and Die").
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