Best Music Documentaries

Writer: Garrett Shadwick

Music is a wonderful thing that everyone loves. Today with Spotify, Apple Music and so many streaming sites, music is just a click away. While everyone loves their music, it’s not just the songs that get so many people hooked. While musicians make music that can put a smile on your face (or help you cry, if you’re into that) people are interested in more than just the music. Looking at how musicians live their lives and what inspires them to write songs can be just as exciting as listening to their new album. Documentaries that give a little insight to these creative geniuses are very interesting. The could reveal that you and your favorite musician could actually be friends like you’ve been hoping, or that they’re so different from what you would have guessed. I know I spend a good amount of my time watching what the people who give me my life’s soundtrack are like off the stage, and that there’s many like me. The list is in no particular order and some of the documentaries may require a prior obsession with the artist to fully enjoy it, unless you just enjoy watching musicians do what they do. The following documentaries range from full fledge, over an hour documentary looking in the past, or a 20-minute look into current musician’s lives.

Austin to Boston

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This documentary requires no prior obsessions with any band. This film follows the four folk bands Bear’s Den, Ben Howard, The Staves, and Nathaniel Rateliff, in their trip playing shows from, well, Austin to Boston. The show starts off in a feel-good scene in a SXSW after party. From that party, all of the band get together in five old Volkswagen vans and hit the road. The trip shows good community that comes from music, occasional cig breaks in the forest, and playing sold out shows in bars across America. If you like good music, good vibes, and a great good-feeling story about nothing but good times, then this documentary is for you.

The Other One: The Long Strange Trip Of Bob Weir

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“I don’t know who Bob Weir is?” Yeah, you kind of do. Bob Weir was a prominent band member of “The Grateful Dead.” This Netflix documentary gives a very interesting insight to not only the “long strange trip of Bob Weir,” but also the hippie worship band, The Grateful Dead. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about The Grateful Dead until I got bored and watched it, so a prior obsession is not needed for this either. The story follows the life of Bob from growing up in Palo Alto, CA, to a thriving member of The Grateful Dead and good friend of Jerry Garcia, to his life now with a happy family. This documentary is great for any Deadheads, or for anyone like me who was curious to learn more behind the Hippie culture band.

This is Home

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This twenty-two minute short film follows the story of Ft Worth native, Leon Bridges. Leon started out washing dishes at Del Frisco's, attending Tarrant County College (Where stars Post Malone and Garrett Shadwick have both attended) and barely attracting 20 people at open mics and ended up being a global sensation and signing with Columbia records. Watching the documentary allows you to see his life off the stage; featuring his pre-show prayers, drinking with his boys, and dancing with his mother Lisa to his own vinyl. This film can be found on YouTube, Vimeo, or Leon’s website.

Pure Comedy the Film

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If you are not already familiar with the Fleet Foxes former drummer Father John Misty, this may not be of interest to you. This twenty-five minute long short film can be found on YouTube. The entirely black and white film follows Father John Misty’s creative course through the makings of his newest album, Pure Comedy. Interesting clips in the film include FJM taking a nap in the back of his hearse (yes, he drives a hearse), taking his daily micro-dose of LSD, working through the night in the studio, and simply drinking coffee while smoking a cigarette and writing new music. This is a great short film to watch if you love FJM, or if you just want to see what doing LSD everyday does to you. (If you’re interested in that last part, just start watching the video at 19:30) If you decide to watch just remember I never told you it wasn’t weird.

Pepperoni Playboy

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Ah, everyone’s (and my) favorite bum; indie, cigarette-smoking, easy going, Mac DeMarco. This thirty-four minute long “Macumentary” is all about Mac Demarco. While the film is almost about nothing, big Mac DeMarco fans will go crazy over it. Through the Macumentary, Mac shows his incredibly small studio, hanging with his band, how he records all of his music to cassette tape, and so much more. I will say that this definitely requires an infatuation with Mac DeMarco that I and many 14-year-old girls share. This short film shot by Mac’s bandmate, Pierce, shows that Demarco’s gap-toothed smile attitude isn’t just on stage and in interviews, it’s just how he lives. This documentary contains great clips of Mac and the band and also gives some thoughtful words of wisdom.

“Ain’t got no mother f**kin’ espresso makers out in the woods do they Bon Iver, you mother f**ker.” -Mac Demarco