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Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story 2003

  • Jamie Meltzer
  • November 13, 2003
  • 58 mins
  • Documentary
Like a warped fun-house mirror, the song-poem industry has run parallel to the mainstream music business for close to a century; it's estimated that over 200,000 song-poems have been recorded since 1900. The genre's durability can be traced to three of our deepest American desires - to be in show business, to get rich quick, and to share and express our deepest feelings. We meet several of the "songwriters" - from an elderly woman to a young African-American man to a small-town Iowan with big-time dreams - each of whom has been in the "business" for awhile, churning out odd compositions that cover the waterfront of American obsessions, from Jesus to genitalia, from politics to Elvis. We also meet the producers (often known as song-sharks) who hold out the tantalizing promise of fame to their eager customers, and the has-been musicians who sit in studios, day after day and year after year...

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