As promised in our last top 5 list, here’s a list of the very best music documentaries. Honorable mention goes to Martin Scorsese’s touching Rolling Stones doc “Shine a Light” and to “The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights.”
Number Five: Twenty Feet from Stardom (2013). Last year’s Oscar winner for best documentary educates the viewer of the tragically underappreciated backup singers in the music industry. The subjects profiled prove to be endearing subjects as the audience revel in their triumphs and sink low in their crushing failures. Once you’ve seen this video you’ll listen to your radio in a whole new way.
Number Four: Woodstock (1970). As iconic a documentary as the event its covering, this may be the most authentic film depiction of a massive concert. Much of that is due to the simple nature it. What this film lacks in flashiness it makes up for with an incredible “you are there” feel. Martin Scorsese, who features heavily on this list, edited much of the final cut. Any version of this film is a joy to watch, but the 25th anniversary stands tallest with an ending montage of historical moments set to Crosby, Stills, and Nash.
Number Three: Gimme Shelter (1970). This is a film that offers a hefty dose of sobering reality in regards to the dangerous nature of unhinged rock and roll culture. Rather than just document the violent events of the Altamont Free Concert, this doc profoundly explores the events leading up to it, revealing a more complicated picture of the rock and roll world. Weird fact: The credited camera operators of the concert footage were Martin Scorsese and George Lucas!
Number Two: Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008). Directed by former Anvil roadie Sacha Gervasi, this expose of the once great Metal band’s current day struggles gets very hard to watch to times. The film is merciless in depicting misfortune after misfortune onto the film’s extremely likeable subjects. Overall, it serves as a very important warning for all musicians that fame is fleeting and that one’s life doesn’t end when the spotlight moves on.
Number One: The Last Waltz (1978). One of the greatest documentaries of all time covering one of the greatest concerts of all time of one of the greatest bands of all time (The Band) directed by one of the greatest directors of all time (Scorsese, again). Need we say more as to why this is number one?