There’s a great scene in Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s film SHAKESPEARE WAS A BIG GEORGE JONES FAN: COWBOY CLEMENT’S HOME MOVIES, where Clement and George Jones are sitting at a table with some friends, and Clement tells Jones that he had a dream about Shakespeare. Clement says that Shakespeare (as the title suggests) is a Jones fan. Jones seems a little uncomfortable with the whole thing, but the admission appears to give Clement pause. “What we need around here (are) some high class dreams, you know?” Clement adds. “Shakespearean dreams.”
It’s the moment you get where Clement’s coming from, and where he’s going.
The entire is film is full of these wonderful moments — most of them frequently hilarious — culled from Clement’s “home movies,” joined by new interviews and footage, and put together expertly and creatively by Gordon and Neville (Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story).
NPT will broadcast the film on September 5, 2007 at 9 p.m. and subsequently present the film to public television stations nationwide. To celebrate this, NPT is hosting a free community screening of the film on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 at 5:45 p.m. at the Belcourt Theatre. You’re all invited! Cowboy Jack and Gordon will both be there to answer questions after the film from one of the best music journalists in the business, the Tennessean’s Bill Friskics-Warren. It’s going to be a great night. To make sure you have a seat, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with “cowboy” in the subject line. In the body, let us know your name and how many people you’ll be coming with.
Here’s a little more about the film:
About SHAKESPEARE WAS A BIG GEORGE JONES FAN: COWBOY CLEMENT’S HOME MOVIES
“We’re in the fun business. If we’re not having fun, we’re not doing our job.” – Cowboy Jack Clement.
Cowboy Jack Clement — producer, songwriter and Nashville’s creative court jester — has been shooting home movies since rock ‘n’ roll began. He’s got footage of best friend Johnny Cash and the Carter Sisters hilariously lip-synching to their own song on the tour bus; U2’s Bono doing his best Vito Corleone impression; George Jones subjected to an impromptu performance of Clement singing “Flushed from the Bathroom of Your Heart;” and John Prine recording an album that would never quite be finished.
The filmmaking team of Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville has done its best to sort through all the footage. The result is SHAKESPEARE WAS A BIG GEORGE JONES FAN: COWBOY CLEMENT’S HOME MOVIES, a love letter — written in part by its subject — to all that is and surrounds Cowboy Jack Clement, premiering Wednesday, Sept 5, 2007 at 9 p.m. on NPT-Channel 8.
Highlights of Clement’s footage include his road trip to A.P. Carter’s grave with Cash; a reunited Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton rehearsing in Clement’s studio; and an intimate studio performance of Waylon Jennings and Jesse Colter singing the Clement composition “Let’s All Help the Cowboys Sing the Blues.”
Joining the video footage are new interviews with Clement’s close friends in the music business, including Jennings, Cash, Prine, Kris Kristofferson, OH Boy Records president Al Bunetta, and Charley Pride
“We knew Jack had been shooting what he called home movies, and we thought we could probably build scaffolding on which to hang these movies,” says Robert Gordon.
“The show’s zany elements grew organically from our experiences with Jack. The animation, the skits and the kaleidoscopic story telling were all inspired by or stolen from him and the world of the Cowboy Arms Hotel and Recording Spa. ”
Born and raised in Memphis, TN, Clement went to work as a producer and engineer for Sam Phillips at Sun Records in 1956, where he helped establish the careers of Cash, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins and discovered and recorded Jerry Lee Lewis. He wrote the hit songs “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and “Guess Things Happen That Way” for Cash. In 1959, he joined RCA in Nashville and went on to become a major figure in the Nashville music business. He started his own publishing and recording studio and made hit records for Charley Pride and Ray Stevens. Other artists that have recorded his songs include Ray Charles, Bobby Bare, Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Cliff Richard, Charley Pride, Tom Jones, Dickey Lee and Hank Snow. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973.
Producers/Directors Gordon and Neville were behind the acclaimed Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, which aired recently on public television though the PBS GREAT PERFORMANCES series. Previously, they created the Grammy-nominated documentary Muddy Waters: Can’t Be Satisfied for the PBS AMERICAN MASTERS series. Neville’s work also includes Hank Williams: Honky-Tonk Blues (presented nationally by NPT through AMERICAN MASTERS) and authoritative films about Sam Phillips, The Brill Building and Lieber & Stoller. Gordon wrote “The Road to Memphis” (an episode of Martin Scorsese’s The Blues) and five books, including It Came From Memphis (Simon & Schuster).