SXSW Film Review: Danny Says

Behind-the-scenes rock legend Danny Fields gets his moment

There’s no precise word in the music biz for what Danny Fields does – or did (as the film concludes its look at his amazing career in 1978). Having great taste is a huge part of what made Fields so successful, but pinpointing his activities with a simple job description is no easy task.

Judging by the juiciness of what’s offered up in Danny Says, more books and movies about Fields’ life should be in the offing. Cognoscenti have long noticed that his name and involvements pop up in tangential ways whenever reading about the Warhol crowd, the Doors, Iggy Pop, the Ramones, and so many others. He’s variously been a manager, press agent, teen-magazine editor, the “company freak” at Elektra Records, but his greatest talent is that of being a connector – or a “noodgie” as Fields half-heartedly suggests at one point in the movie. He’s the guy who introduced Nico and Jim Morrison to each other, the one whose brilliant idea it was to have Edgar Winter’s albino-white hair blow sideways on his debut album cover, the editor who caused grief for the Beatles by putting the quote about the band being bigger than Jesus on its cover. Still, this doesn’t nearly capture Fields’ full sway on the music that influenced the world between the mid-Sixties and 1978. Frequently using animation and Fields’ recorded phone messages to expand on filmmaker Brendan Toller’s interviews with his subject, the result is quite illuminating, particularly for viewers who have yet to learn of Fields’ contributions to popular culture. His recorded phone conversation with an uncharacteristically gushing Lou Reed after the rock legend heard the Ramones for the first time practically makes the film required viewing for all music aficionados.

Danny Says

24 Beats Per Second
Saturday, March 21, noon, Alamo Lamar

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