[Originally Published: September 14, 2011]
Inevitably, during our various existential journeys, we seek another earth, another space to explore, we wander amidst the gloom, and ponder it all, and face the reality that some one, some thing, controls our fate. The prospects of what we want to be are somehow always clouded by the ghosts of what we were, right? To change all of that is to see the world through a child’s eyes, a kid-like point of view, eh?
Talihina Sky. Kings of Leon. Final edition—#15, 75 in total—of season 5.
The documentary appears so innocent at first, even in light of the current drunken events which have played out as the band has seemingly imploded due to the abnormal rigors of success and the ever-dangerous life spent on the road, traversing from clubs to big marquee gigs in arenas and, gasp, stadiums. Yes, they may be back, even before Oasis, but does anyone venture to hold their breath? Watch this film, and decide for yourself.
I first saw the quartet in a small theatre several years back, and one could see and hear and feel the passion coming forth from the stage. What was ironic was that I stated in a show review, for either a site or a magazine, I don’t recall, and who really cares, that I felt the band was ready for bigger and more expansive venues. I didn’t really know how that would happen, and no one was more surprised than me that it really DID happen—the Kings of Leon became an arena rock staple, while garnering a fairly large fan base.
Enter Talihina Sky, a film made in almost a glorified home movie way at first glance. And, yet, there is something even more powerful going on here. The piece mixes footage of the Kings of Leon on and off the road and back home with a story of three brothers and one cousin and one band that reaches the peak of their little existence, and gazes down into the abyss, while also looking back into their past in Oklahoma and Tennessee.
The documentary, premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, and helmed by first-time director Stephen C. Mitchell, does an admirable job of juxtaposing the Followills rise to superstardom while showing their roots in searing fashion—they were raised in pretty much impoverished circumstances by parents whose Pentecostal beliefs left a deep spiritual tattoo on the soul. But Mitchell doesn’t do a very good job of showing why the band got hot, or how their music impacts their audience. He lets the backstory BE the story, and that is a very dangerous thing when all you’ve got is a family reunion and some jack ass drinking whiskey out of a bottle in one hand, while sucking back red wine in the other. What is also apparent is that the Kings of Leon cannot handle either their newfound fame, or the deranged element that appears to hang on the fringe of their backstory. Yeah, family is great and important, but when it reminds one of what can’t be, instead of what can, well…doors work both ways, my friend.
All of this is my normal way of saying that there are some pretty heavy hidden truths in this bit of celluloid, and I don’t believe in delivering the metaphysical road map to you on some sort of silver platter. See the film. You’ll see why enlightenment is always in the eye of the beholder, and the concepts of heaven and hell are not to be entertained when one is sucking their truth from a bottle. Turn the camera off when you’ve had ten too many drinks or four too many bong hits. Who wants to hear yet another tool espousing on what did and didn’t go right in one’s life, when every other band is making negative 50 bucks playing dive bars, while the Kings of Leon had a shot to do so much more, but took what was given, and shat on it. Rock music ain’t the problem, kids. Your parents are. Run; run as far as you can from that ghost of a past that is so haunting and wrong. But, don’t blame the devil. He is in the mirror, man.
Up above on the surface, one dwells in the sense of self-importance, inner ambition, outer rage, in betwixt some sort of answer hiding in many questions. Meanwhile, in the deep expanse of our inner space, the place where peace needs to inevitably reside, nothing seems to matter quite like that—as the universe expands outwards, inevitably to disappear, or, quite contrarily, to contract back into the Big Crunch, seeking nothing, pulling all that it once was into a singular focal point—life serves no purpose whatsoever other than to see what can endure…and what cannot. And what can endure is the human spirit, so why bankrupt it with preconceived notions of the Divine and Sacred? Find your own bliss; find that way that opens doors to possibilities, instead of retreating back to the old choices of prior generations. Another ghost, brother? No, thanks.
- Talihina Sky: Amazon (Pre-Order)
Hidden Flick – Season 5:
Encore: Another Ghost, Brother