The Commitments: Soul Music to lift you above the shite.

“The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once and say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud”

Jimmy Rabbitte

A movie and a soundtrack that took over the world in 1991, and that, 20 years later, would reunite the actors for a tour around Ireland and in the UK. The Commitments is a comedy – drama. Though I have to say that having watched it again to write this post, it is really hilarious.

The movie, directed by genius Alan Parker, who traumatized us with Midnight Express , imprinted the whole world with Pink Floyd´s The Wall and brought us private favorites like Birdy, tells the story of a group of working class dwellers who decide to start a soul band. They are not really musicians, friends, and some of them don’t even know what soul music is, but decide to start a band in order to “get out” of their lives and through soul music, lift above the shite.

 Mustang Sally – The Commitments

The film is an adaptation to a novel by Roddy Doyle, who participated in the screenplay adaptation along with Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. Jimmy Rabbitte (Robert Arkins) wants to be the manager of the greatest, hard working band in the world, and he sets out to find the band members. The audition process is great, and there are some fantastic gems auditioning, the movie is worth a watch only for that selection process, he recruits a couple of his friends, a girl he knows and tells her to bring “the hot chick” from the neighborhood, and then he gets the help of Joey “The Lips” Fagan, who plays the sax.

CHAIN OF FOOLS – THE COMMITMENTS

Led by their manager, they start rehearsing and learning about soul. The majority of the actors were amateurs, which I think makes the movie and the whole process more authentic. While they start their musical journey, the band members start getting to know each other, sleeping with each other, falling out, especially with the band´s lead vocalist “Deco” Cuffe played by Andrew Strong. He was only 16 years old when he was cast in the film. I REPEAT: 16 YEARS OLD! and ended up being nominated for a Grammy award as a member of The Commitments.

Try a Little Tenderness – The Commitments

Rabbitte tries to guide them, with the help of “the Lips” and teach them about music.

Listen, from now on I don’t want you listening to Guns and Roses and the Soup Dragons. I want you on a strict diet of soul. James Brown for the growls, Otis Redding for the moans, Smokey Robinson for the whines and Aretha for the whole lot put together.

Unfortunately, tensions an ego´s clash, money runs out, Wilson Pickett never shows up for their “breakthrough” gig (although he makes “an appearance” when the bar has closed and everyone has gone away), the lead singer gets punched badly but the band´s bouncer turned drummer and the dream of the greatest band ever evaporates before they get very far.

To be fair though, that only happens in the movie, because in this dimension, they achieved long lasting fame and glory. For a girl from Manizales, Colombia, The Commitments was a glimpse into Dubin, that fantastic accent, and it made me feel free to love soul music. I didnt feel alone anymore. Other people, young people, wanted to sing that kind of music. Soul music was there to lift the whole bunch of us, Whites, Colombians, Dubliners and Black people, all of us alike.

Treat Her Right – The Commitments

 

 

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