Before the review, I would like to encourage everyone to occasionally rent movies from your local independent theaters instead of just streaming from the big-name platforms. Also, when this crisis is over, the big artists will still tour and have big arenas and stadiums to play. But the smaller artists and the smaller venues are suffering. If a favorite artist is playing an Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube Live concert, buy a ticket and/or tip them. And if a small local venue is running a GoFundMe campaign, donate a few dollars. We do not want to see them disappear.
All I Can Say is a collage of video footage shot over five years by Shannon Hoon, lead singer of Blind Melon. If the name does not ring a bell, how about Bee Girl and the song “No Rain?”
From 1990 to 1995, Hoon shot everything in his life with a Hi8 video camera including shooting an interview he did from his hotel room a few hours before his death at 28yo. “No Rain” became a hit in 1993, one year after the album it was on and the single was released. What propelled the song was the video’s constant rotation on MTV. The album cover featured Blind Melon’s drummer’s (Glen Graham) little sister in a bee costume. Heather DeLoach is the girl hired to wear the costume for the video. The other members of the band were guitarists Rogers Stevens and Christopher Thorn and bassist Brad Smith. They all met in Los Angeles where the band was formed in 1990.
There is no narration. And only the occasional caption. Hoon either narrates what is going on or you just figure it out by watching the video. Sometimes you have to go online and read more to find out exactly what is going on like the Woodstock performance. There are some professional videos intercut. For instance, Hoon is from Lafayette, IN, which has a big music scene. His sister is friends with Axl Rose, who Hoon meets up with in LA and sings background vocals on two Guns N’ Roses songs. You can see Hoon in the video for “Don’t Cry” dressed just like Axl on the rooftop.
Hoon videos the news (especially MTV News) from the TV. He sets the camera up in the corner of the hotel room or whatever room he is in. In the corner of the studio where the band is rehearsing or recording. Upstage when the band is performing so you see the band and the audience. He records phone conversations, like an early one with his father, where he finds out his father has been arrested for his third or fourth DUI and has lost his license. Hoon records the conversation where he finds out his girlfriend his pregnant. (One theme throughout is how much Hoon wants to be a father.) Or when the band is discussing their possible Rolling Stone cover and Hoon is out of the room. Rolling Stone just wants Hoon on the cover and the band is wondering whether Hoon will agree to that or insist that the entire band be on the cover. Will Rolling Stone drop the interview if the band insists that they all be on the cover?
There is a scene where the entire family sings “The Cover of the Rolling Stone,” showing that Hoon is not the only one in the family with musical talent.
The only time Hoon does not have the camera with him is when he is in rehab, which happens at least twice. There is a phone call with Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), who is afraid of what it will be outside after rehab and he seeks Hoon’s advice. The band records their second album in New Orleans, which Hoon says is a dangerous city for him. And it is during their last tour, supporting that album, that Hoon is found dead of an overdose in the tour bus just before they are supposed to go onstage in New Orleans.
If you are looking for narrative, this film has it but just not in the traditional sense. A flows into B flows into C. But you are seeing it not only through Hoon’s eyes but from events on TV. It is also a collage and sometimes a scene does not seem to have any real meaning in moving the story forward. It is amazing to have a front seat to watch a band grow to incredible heights.
Like a lot of people, all I was familiar with was the one hit. I remember hearing about Hoon’s death and thinking what a shame it was because he was so young. I have read posts from other people raving about the songs on their two albums so I am going to check out the rest of their work.
This is incredible work by Taryn Gould, Danny Clinch, and Colleen Hennessy to take all this raw footage and to make an incredible documentary out of it.
By Carene Lydia Lopez