In Gwyneth Paltrow’s current movie, Country Strong, writer/director Shana Feste wanted as much realism as possible, so she stacked Gwyneth’s band with Nashville regulars, including Jim Lauderdale on acoustic, Bucky

In Gwyneth Paltrow's current movie, Country Strong, writer/director Shana Feste wanted as much realism as possible, so she stacked Gwyneth's band with Nashville regulars, including Jim Lauderdale on acoustic, Bucky Baxter on steel, yours truly on bass, and a few other recognizable faces in the country-music scene filling out the rest of the band. The entire gig consisted of us playing a few concerts, with the band faking it onstage to pre-recorded tracks while Paltrow sang live.



Paltrow has a compelling

voice and sang really well both

live and in the studio. I've

worked with many major-label

acts that would not have sounded

nearly as good under these

circumstances. During a break,

I asked, “So, if you end up having

a big ol' hit song from this

movie, would you tour?"



She thought about it for a

few beats, then smiled and said,

“I really like singing, but . . . I

don't know." I appreciated her

hesitance, because it revealed a

deeper understanding of what

it means to be a musician.

Paltrow's husband fronts the

mega-selling band Coldplay,

so she gets it. For most of us,

music starts as a quaint hobby.

But, like all addictions, it subtly

begins to grow under your

skin and eventually fuses with

your identity.



But, lacking this awareness,

many actors see music

as a yet-to-be-exploited revenue

source. They look at

their trophy case and think,

“A Grammy and a platinum

record would look nice next

to my People's Choice and

Emmy. I'll just call my manager

and have him arrange

it." These actors have this

incredible, unwavering belief

that because they are successful

in one area, they can

do anything. This kind of

self-confidence produces some

interesting work.



William Shatner's 1968

album, The Transformed Man,

remains one of my desert-island

records. To hear him emote

with immeasurable conviction,

shouting “Mr. Tambourine

Man" as if he is teetering on the

head of a pin, madness on one

side, agony on the other—well,

that's just pure Shat. One has to

admire his confidence.



Leonard Nimoy's 1968

album, the ironically titled

The Way I Feel, does not connect

emotionally (which is

to be expected from a green-blooded

Vulcan), but remains

a joy to hear. His somewhat

subdued performance and

lackluster sales did not prevent

him from making another

five albums. When it comes

to music, the crew of the

Enterprise boldly goes where

no man has gone before.



David Hasselhoff displays

definite Shat-esque confidence

with his music, the kind of

confidence that enables a man

to do a photo shoot wearing

nothing but a Speedo, an open

leather jacket, a thick mane of

chest hair, and a “Come hither"

glare. The Hoff enjoyed two

No. 1 hits in Germany and just

released his 17th album, A Real

Good Feeling. For me, hearing

the Hoff evokes a real good

feeling much like hearing the

Shat. Part of that feeling may be

envy for their unwavering self-assurance

and thick head and

body hair. Check out the music

of Steven Seagal—it, too, is pure

Shat that will make you shiver.



But one can't really applaud

the actor/musician who lacks

conviction—those of the

Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan,

and Joaquin Phoenix variety.

It doesn't matter that they

can't sing or rap—plenty of

platinum-selling acts can't. But

clearly these forays into music began with a PR team hounding

the media while pounding

the 'net, and then ended in

damage control, redirections,

and, in Joaquin's case, leaving

himself an ambiguous out: If

the music career works, great,

he's an artist. If not, it's an edgy

hoax and you're too stupid to

get it.



I admire the actors who, like

many of us, love playing music

but don't make a big deal out

of it. Gary Sinise, a long-time

bass player, is a passionate supporter

of American troops. He

wanted to help, so he started

his “Lieutenant Dan Band" and

has since performed at military

bases around the world. After

a lifetime of playing music for

fun, Jeff Bridges has started

doing shows on the strength of

his film Crazy Heart. Nothing

heavy or ego driven—just a

dude and his friends who put

their band back together. I

know a couple of the guys who

play in Kevin Costner's band.

They say it's a fun, no-pressure,

feel-good gig—often with

excellent catering.



Undeniably, showmanship

usually helps a music career.

When a musician works the

stage, trying to connect with

the audience, isn't that acting?

I don't think B.B. King is honestly

moved by all of his solos,

but if you watch his face you'd

swear every note slashes a razor

across his heart.



As the bard said:



All the world's a stage,

And all the men and

women merely players;

They have their exits

and their entrances;

And one man in his

time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages.



—William Shakespeare,

from As You Like It



We may all be acting, but

the fact that more musicians

have successfully worked in film

than actors have successfully

launched careers in music suggests

that, of the two disciplines,

music is more challenging.




John Bohlinger is

a Nashville-based guitarist

who works primarily

in TV and has recorded

and toured with over 30

major-label artists. His songs

and playing can be heard

in major motion pictures, on major-label

releases, and in literally hundreds of television

drops. Visit him at youtube.com/user/johnbohlinger

or facebook.com/johnbohlinger.

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