The Movie Star Blues

Like his films, the songs of actor-cum-musician Jeff Daniels range from the sublime to the preposterous. First, the characters. The frumpled, hapless dirtbag Flap Horton in Terms of Endearment. The strait-laced businessman who’s taken for a violent joy ride in Jonathan Demme's Something Wild. The mustachio'd citizen-soldier Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in Gettysburg. Jim Carrey's denser half in Dumb & Dumber. The houseboat serial killer in Clint Eastwood’s Bloodwork. My Favorite Martian. The Purple Rose of Cairo. Arachnophobia. Good Night, and Good Luck. What a brilliant career. What an idiotic career. What a winning career. "Winning" is also the right word for Daniels' folksy blues songs, which will strike some as bargain-basement A Prairie Home Companion. Not to mention that the guy can't sing a lick, and that his plea to "Forgive Me, Robert Johnson" is a real cringe-inducer. But somewhere between the cheeseball refrains of "If William Shatner Can, I Can Too" and the spare, aching lines of "Middle of the Night" you'll find the real Jeff Daniels, the fine man behind the fine actor. Whatever else you might think of ´em, these are real songs, written by a real, good guy.
Sat., Nov. 10, 8 p.m., 2007
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Clay McNear
Contact: Clay McNear