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I watched Weary River a couple weeks ago and I can’t get this song out of my head. (Song starts at 5:40.  For some reason Tumblr isn’t recognizing the URL from where I tried to start it at that point.)

I loved the movie, by the way.  More than I expected to, actually.  But it reminded me of what I love so much about this period of film history.  It just has a certain vitality to it.  It’s part silent/part talkie, and when the first talkie scene came in, it felt like coming home.  I thought, “Yes.  I understand this world.”

8

"… how ardently I admire and love you" - 2/25

Richard Barthelmess

Sheet Music - `Weary River' from `Weary River' (1929)

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A haunting lyric foxtrot ballad it may be, but `Weary River’ became famous for something else it was - or wasn’t.

Richard Barthelmess was one of the most highly respected actors in Hollywood. He had been the star of some of D.W. Griffiths’ most famous films, including `Broken Blossoms’ (1919) and `Way Down East’ (1920), as well as the star of what is still one of the most beloved American silent films, Henry King’s `Tol’able David’ (1921). As his first talkie, `Weary River’ was hotly anticipated.

Barthelmess played the role of a criminal whose love of music and talent for singing leads him back onto the straight and narrow - a story that was reputedly based on a real life incident. It went without saying that a good singing voice would be essential.

Studios had invested millions of dollars in the development of their actors, and were now eager to push the idea that sound would `refurbish’ existing stars by showing a whole new side to them. “You don’t know nothin’ yet!” boasted a Vitaphone advertisement for `Weary River’, consciously echoing Al Jolson’s famous proclamation from `The Jazz Singer’.

Slightly evasively, it added: ”You and millions of others have gone just to see him act. Now you can hear him talk and play the piano!”

But what of his singing? The truth would soon out.

Ovlov - "Ohmu Shell"

Weezer’s latest hesitant listen Everything Will Be Alright In the End came out a mere week ago, and in the seven days that have passed since, I’ve realized that it has become just as easy for the album to fall off of my regular rotation as it was putting it on. While it’s arguably one of their strongest efforts in their post-Pinkerton days (Maladroit might be the only one to edge it here,) built on consistency instead of gimmickry and the smart hooks that made their first two albums the revered alt-pop classics they are, I’m still weary of Rivers for all of the disappointment and self-destruction he’s put Weezer fans through over the last decade-plus. It’s going to take a whole lot more than one album that’s 70% good to regain my faith in them.

Ovlov aren’t Weezer, last year’s listmaking debut effort Am might not be hailed as high as the blue album, and their output since has been a quick trickle of singles, but at least they’ve been good to us in consistently in delivering the good goods. “Ohmu Shell” is their latest listen, a contribution to a four-way split 7” between noise-popping peers Krill, LVL UP, Radiator Hospital. Here, they stylizes their brand of fuzzy punk-pop riff indulgences with even more straight-forward winks to Cuomo’s perfectionist past ways than before while breaking down Pavement at their poppiest in true careless fashion. They’ve destroyed the sweater, and yet, I’ve no urge to start walking away any time soon.

Ovlov / Krill / LVL UP / Radiator Hospital’s split 7” single will be released October 14th on Double Double Whammy / Exploding In Sound Records.

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