We here at Dust Nuggets Central have been watching and rewatching Robert Altman’s Nashville lately. It’s a fine film, but defies categorization, generalization, or understanding. It’s rich, but only reveals itself upon repeated viewings. A single pass will leave you scratching your head as you try to find a plot. Lots of people don’t like it. They say it’s boring, but that might be because they didn’t stick around long enough to see Ronee Blakley’s performances.
Nashville is a musical but not in the sense that a composer wrote all the songs and the action stops so actors/singers can sing and dance a number. All of the music is part of the story in that the songs are performed on stage or in a real world setting such as when you sit on the bed and strum a tune. What’s really interesting is that some of the actors wrote their own songs.
The results are a mixed bag. Some songs are what you’d expect from people who are not songwriters. But Keith Carradine’s I’m Easy is of course a standout, but so are Ronee Blakley’s songs. Which is not surprising as she was a songwriter before anything else. She had her own label before Nashville came along. She even recorded an album at Muscle Shoals.
Her performance, both acting “behind the scenes” and on stage, are reasons enough to watch the film. Even if you’re not a country fan, you will appreciate lines like “There’s nothing like the lovin’ of a hard-ridin’ cowboy man,” in the tune “Tapedeck in his tractor.” You can’t get a karaoke version of this tune, or else I’d be singing it down to the local pub every Friday night. If we could go out into the world, that is.
It is dang hard to become famous. No matter how much talent you have, you need to be in the media’s face everyday. You have to always be on. It’s grueling and time-consuming. Apparently Blakley slipped past the media circus in order to become a mom. She’s all but faded from our memory. Her last album was released in 2010. It’s called River Nile and features her voice, clear as a bell, and as beautiful as ever. Her style is folk/country, and 100% Ronee Blakley.
Find her on imdb, on iTunes, in the Nashville film. Well worth the trouble.
For more fun in film check out the Dust Nuggets trailer. Full film coming out any day now!
– Sue Lange, Dust Nuggets writer/producer