Sunday, December 02, 2007

parallel lives

As I've probably indicated before on Assistant Blog, I'm really a massive fan of BBC4; I think that something like 70% of my viewing comes from that channel, and I think it's worth making the point that the majority of those shoes (Comics Britannia, The Genius of Photography, Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe, some recent stuff on Ian Rankin) are, far from being highbrow intellectual toss, massively enjoyable.

I've been meaning all week to write about 'Parallel Universes, Parallel Lives', a fantastic documentary that aired last week, but I've not had time and - as you might have noticed - I've been quite lazy when it comes to blogging recently, which is really annoying me but I'm just not quite getting around to it.

I suppose I might just not mention it, but the thing about BBC4 is that it's great for repeating stuff, so it's not too late the programme if you keep you eye out. The show recorded the efforts of Mark Oliver Everett, who is better known to you and I as E of the ace pop group Eels, to belatedly find a way to relate to his deceased father, an eminent scientist who had little to do with his rock musician son.

I found the show immensely moving and beautifully filmed, well worth watching and exactly the kind of programming, simultaneously complex and accessible, that I love. Here's Ben from Silent Words Speak Loudest, whose description of the show is dead on.

"The journey wasn't always easy - E's discomfort and trepidation before listening to a collection of old tapes left lying in boxes was palpable, but it was poignant when he pressed play and heard his father's voice talking physics with his childhood self bashing away on the drums in the background. Inevitably, what with E being a bit of a prankster, there were laughs along the way (most memorably when the man who once dressed as the Unabomber for an album cover expressed his amazement at getting clearance to get into the heart of the Pentagon), and I was left thinking that there's a bit of father in the son, if you look at E's intense observation of the minutiae of life and appreciation of the enormity of the cosmos and our insignificance within it."
Here's the link to Ben's post. Go read.


Dan said...


I found it to be one of the best porgrammes I had seen in a very long time. I am admittadly a fairly big fan of Eels and some Mark Everett's solo stuff before then.

The interesting thing for me is how autobiographical his music often was. Theres even a track from Eels thrid album called 'Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor' about his sisters suicide. I was surprised therefore that he would make a programme on his Dad, as from listening to his last album he described his Dad as "a most unpleasant man" in one song. This was as, we learn't based only on his memories and I was quite touched too to find out as he did the difficulties his Dad had had.

A great tale and made all the better by how well music of the Eels went with it. E is one of America's best songwriters in my book and I had a great time last week listening to all his albums again. Except I don't have Souljacker (where he's dressed as the Uni Bomber on the cover).

Ben said...

Thanks for linking Jonathan.

Dan: Get yourself Souljacker - it's very good. But then I'm sure you could have already guessed that...