The Moving HBO Documentary: Eagles of Death Metal: Mon Amis (Our Friends), Bravo!

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I remember the horrible Paris attacks of November 13th, 2015 as if it were yesterday. I chronicled my feelings, mostly simmering rage, in these very pages. While I’m not a religious man, there are things I hold sacred. Along with my family, rock n roll and concerts are one of those things. The communal joining together for an evening of food, drink and music is as close to a church as I’ll ever get (on purpose, at least). So, when the terrorists chose to attack cafes, a football game, and a rock concert, it was as if for the first time, they’d walked into my church with guns. The senseless murder of 89 people in the Bataclan during Eagles of Death Metal’s show particularly upset me, and is why I wrote the post, “My Heart Is In the Bataclan.”

U2 had been scheduled to perform live in Paris and broadcast that concert on HBO but postponed the show due to the attack. They were seen placing flowers at the memorial for the fallen outside the Bataclan. Is there any greater rock n roll ambassadors of Peace than the guys in U2? If I ever met U2, I’d have to use the words of my favorite TV policeman Kojak, “Who Loves Ya Baby.” I remember my friend Steven saying to me, the last time we saw U2 in a stadium in St Louis, “These guys are the soundtrack to our lives.” True dat, Steven. I was thrilled when toward the end of the HBO broadcast concert, U2 brought up the members of Eagles of Death Metal to play the show they were robbed of. It was a beautiful moment which I also chronicled in the pages of B&V.

This Monday, I happened to be watching HBO with the Rock Chick… we happened to love ‘The Young Pope,’ which has some great music, I might add. Afterwards on HBO was a documentary about Eagles of Death Metal and that tragic evening at the Bataclan. I had no idea it was coming on, fate must have willed me to see it. The title is ‘Eagles of Death Metal: Mon Amis (Our Friends)’ and I recommend that everyone see it. It was healing, cathartic and entertaining all at the same time. I’m not too proud to admit that during portions of the show, I had tears in my eyes.

As a back drop to the events at the Bataclan the documentary starts with the history of Eagles of Death Metal. Josh Homme, more famously the genius behind Queens of the Stone Age, and Jesse Hughes, lead singer/guitarist for EODM were high school buddies. I thought it was very cool how their friendship is the very fabric this band was created from. Jesse and Josh record the albums and then Jesse takes the band out on the road. Josh joins on drums when he can, schedule permitting. He was scheduled to be with them the night of the Bataclan attack, but had stayed home in the States for the birth of his child.

The title of the documentary, ‘Mon Amis (Our Friends)’ really sums up the relationship this band has with their fans. They’re a good time, funny, hard rocking band and their fans are some of the most dedicated out there. I had never really heard much of their music prior to all of this, though I was a QOTSA fan. The relationship these guys have with their fans is something special, making the events of November 13th that much worse.

When they finally got to the story of the concert at the Bataclan, they bring in some of the survivors of the attacks. They talk about their love for the band and they talk about the awful, frightening events of that night. It was bone chilling, but you could tell these people needed to talk about it to heal. One of the things that struck both the Rock Chick and I was how close the killers got to the band. I had always heard, “the band got out” before it got dangerous. That is not accurate at all. The guitar player actually hid in the shower of the dressing room while the terrorists kicked at the door to try and get to him. It was very clear from the tearful interviews that Jesse Hughes gives, that this is a band with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Jesse peaked through the curtain and his description of what he saw, people being mown down, is heart stopping.

In a brief snippet, the makers of the documentary interview Bono and the Edge of U2. Bon really summed it up, much better than I did in my B&V post a year and half ago, when he said, “this was an attack on a lifestyle, a lifestyle they hate.” Well said, Bono, well said.

While EODM playing at the U2 concert a few weeks after the Bataclan attack was healing, it was time for Eagles of Death Metal to come back and complete the show they never got to finish. Playing at the Bataclan would have probably been too traumatic, so the documentary chronicles their prep and return to Paris to play at the Olympia theater. They brought back anybody from the Bataclan who was willing and able to attend – and who could blame those who didn’t feel like going back to a concert… the bastards who pulled off the attack have likely ruined that part of those fans lives. To watch Jesse and the band, this time including Josh, come outside the theater prior to the show to greet and hug the fans was another beautiful moment. It just underscores how close this band is to their fans, to their friends, “mon amis.”

This was really a great documentary and I applaud HBO. I also applaud all those fans who survived and attended the EODM’s return to Paris. And I especially applaud the Eagles of Death Metal. May they rock and roll forever! Again, everyone who loves rock and roll, heavy metal and hard rock should see this movie.

Don’t let the bastards drag you down….

Cheers!

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Paris Attacks: My Heart is in the Bataclan #ParisAttacks

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I am not a religious person. I’m like Lloyd Bridges’ character in the movie “Cousins”, when he said, “God makes me nervous when you get him inside.” Maybe it is better summed up by Sting when he sang, “men go crazy in congregations, they only get better one by one.” I was raised a Catholic but as I once told my daughter, “I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, I had enough practice as a kid.” I have always looked at religious preference like sexual preference – practice whatever gives you peace and joy but a) don’t tell me about it (or preach to me about it) and b) don’t try to convert me. I guess you could find me at the Christopher Hitchens end of the aisle.

I have to admit, despite all that, I have seen some value in religion. One bizarre weekend a life time ago I was the best man in a wedding and then attended a funeral. I remember careening my neck around at the wedding and seeing the crowd, joyfully focused on the altar, where the nervous couple was saying their vows. By an odd circumstance, and this is what I mean by bizarre weekend, someone I knew passed away and I found myself in a funeral merely 3 days after the wedding. Once again I felt myself looking around the crowded chapel at people sorrowfully watching the folks on the altar who were eulogizing the deceased. It was then that it dawned on me that the sense of community that religion brings was something palpable. These two separate groups of people had come to celebrate a union of a new couple and to collectively mourn the loss of a man way too young to die. “I get it,” I finally thought. That’s what this is all about, the sense of collective joy or grief.

Despite my heathen nature, there are some things I hold sacred. In it’s simplest form, sitting down to a meal, “breaking bread” if you will, is something that is sacred to me. I don’t eat with people I don’t care about. I eat with family or friends or I eat alone. There is something intimate and almost holy about sharing food and laughs with family and friends. I feel the same way about sitting in a cafe and having a drink with friends or family. “Bourbon” is in the title of this blog. Sitting down in a darkened bar, with music playing in the background and sharing a drink is almost a sacrament in my mind.

One of the most sacred events in my universe is the concert. I remember the first concert I ever saw – it was a triple bill, three great bands, well 2 great bands and 1 moron (yes, talkin’ to you Ted Nugent) – and looking out into the crowded arena and seeing the crowd lift their lighters (this was long before cell phones) and I felt like I was in a church of sorts. I was connected to these people through the music. The communal vibe of people coming together to see a band, to listen to music, to celebrate that music and life itself is imprinted on my very soul. Again, it was that sense of community that I felt most strongly. Once my musical tastes became more sophisticated I found myself in smaller and smaller venues but that feeling of community and connection while the music played remained strong in me. The program in my childhood church said, “Singing Is Twice Praying.” Maybe they did get something right there after all…

While I sat in my home last night, a world away from Paris, my heart broke. To think that someone would shoot people in a restaurant or a cafe staggered me. There is a lot to be upset about last night, too much to put in a blog about bourbon and rock music, but what struck me the most was the attack on the Bataclan. I know nothing about the Eagles Of Death Metal, but my heart goes out to them and all the concert goers and their families. I read on Rolling Stone magazine’s twitter that “ISIS says they targeted Bataclan because it featured “hundreds of idolaters together in a party of perversity”.” You can not come up with a more fundamental misunderstanding of what was happening in that concert hall. People coming together in a joyful way to celebrate music and community has nothing to do with idolatry. Music is something that has been celebrated in every community since the dawn of man. Heartbreaking. Simply, heartbreaking.

They came into my church last night, the concert hall, and attacked. Senselessly.

I’d like to say I’m going to #prayforparis but that is not in my skill set. Like I said before, I’m not a religious person. And it would appear prayers and religion might be what fundamentally caused this horrific act. Perhaps a quiet drink and a tasteful toast would be more appropriate. My heart broke last night for the Bataclan crowd and the people of Paris. My thoughts, my heart, my very spirit is with those concert goers and with all of Paris. I think of the crowds I’ve seen in concerts my whole life and I can’t help but think of all the people who went out for a night of communal good times and met an untimely, senseless death. My despair over all the attacks in Paris last night is endless. These people were doing things we all do – dining, having drinks and listening to rock music – and they paid for it with their lives. It just makes no sense.

I am feeling a host of emotions. Despair, frustration and of course, enormous amounts of anger. The only fear I am feeling tonight is the fear that my thirst for vengeance brings. It will be easy for us to want to knee-jerk react to these senseless acts of violence and cowardice. Yes, cowardice, it doesn’t take guts to walk into a cafe or theater and shoot the unarmed and the innocent. It’s important to stand by our principles as civilized societies and make a measured, calculated response to this senselessness. Let’s not let these bastards take away who we are, or what we stand for.

Tonight, I toast Paris and I toast France for their loss and for their courage in the face of this outrageous act. I toast for the Eagles of Death Metal, who must be in shock and despair tonight.

Hang in there people. It’s a dark ride. Let’s not let the thugs and the lawless drag us down.

Cheers.