Rosanna Arquette: with her new documentary exploring musicians’ lives, actress and filmmaker Rosanna Arquette has fashioned a love song to one of her great passions—rock ‘n’ roll
Rosanna Arquette has always had a passion for rock music–and musicians have loved her right back, so much so that ’80s pop superstars Peter Gabriel and Toto even immortalized her in song not once, but twice. (“In Your Eyes” and “Rosanna,” respectively). Now, in Arquette’s forthcoming documentary, All We Are Saying, she commits her love of rock to the screen. In the film Steven Tyler, Thom Yorke, Chrissie Hynde, and Stevie Nicks, to name a few, speak their minds with startling candor about the current state of the music business and balancing their art and their personal lives. Here, she speaks to another of the film’s subjects, her friend, singer-songwriter Shelby Lynne.
SHELBY LYNNE: Hi, Rosanna!
ROSANNA ARQUETTE: Hi! Thanks so much for your record–it’s really beautiful, as usual.
SL: Thank you. And I love your movie! I loved that part when you were talking to Joni Mitchell, saying how upset you were about her not making records anymore.
RA: It’s a drag, isn’t it? And the reason she doesn’t has nothing to do with the music–it’s just the business. That’s the thing that seems to stand in everybody’s way.
SL: It’s the same with putting out a cool documentary–you’ve got to find somebody on the business side who can see your vision.
RA: Yeah. Once you have that you can’t lose. Art is such an important part of our culture. It’s something Sheryl Crow touches on in the movie when she says that if you take the arts out of the schools it becomes really dangerous.
SL: But it is happening, you know. Chrissie Hynde was saying that rock ‘n’ roll ended when we started hiring stylists. I always feel like to really be in style you need to be as out-of-style as you can be. One of my favorite rock concerts was Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden, where they performed “The Song Remains the Same,” and you could see Robert Plant’s dick hanging down through his pants. We need more dick in rock ‘n’ roll, you know what I’m saying? [laughs] That’s rock ‘n’ roll!
RA: Yeah, man–chicks with dicks. [laughs]
SL: Did you find it interesting how much musicians love talking about themselves?
RA: I never picked up on any of that; I found they talked about the music and not about themselves. SL: Sometimes musicians get a rap for being bitter or not very nice.
RA: I think people try to say that about Joni, but if you really hear what she’s talking about, it all makes sense. And she’s not saying anything that anyone in the arts doesn’t feel–because it sucks these days.
SL: How do you think artists should handle taking a stand on politics or things they feel are just flat out wrong?
RA: You have the perfect place to put that passion–in your music, which I think is really great. You just sing what you believe in, and you put it out there in your songs. That’s what Dylan did. That’s what all the great artists have done–John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills & Nash. These are the people that worked for their beliefs and put it in their music. Music used to change people’s minds–and it still changes mine.
SL: Do critics have too much power?
RA: Usually they’re just frustrated artists themselves that never made it. But I think the most important thing for an artist is to not worry about what anybody else thinks. You just have to do what comes from your heart and your being and put it out there–that’s true in any of the arts. It’s just unfortunate that music has become such big business.
SL: It’s not like in the old days when you could just get on a bus or throw some amps in the back of the Cadillac and go make music. It costs so much to go out there. And then you get the frustration from the fans who want to know why you don’t tour more often. And the answer is, “Because I can’t afford it!” So why did you want to make this film?
RA: Because I love music and musicians. And seeing great artists dropped from labels was really frustrating and sad to me. Tom Petty says that rock ‘n’ roll has gone the way of jazz and blues–unfortunately it’s true that it’s not in the forefront of popular culture now. But there will always be some kid who’s the new Kurt Cobain writing great lyrics and singing from his soul. The problem is they’re not marketing that anymore or putting it out there. I want to hear acoustic guitar and a voice like yours.
Shelby Lynne’s most recent album, Suit Yourself (Capitol Records), was released in May.
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