Muscle Shoals: A Slice of American Music History

Muscle Shoals is a city in northwest Alabama, along the south side of the Tennessee River, in the United States of America.

Muscle Shoals is a documentary masterpiece which covers the birth and history of the city as an international hub for R&B, pop, and rock singers. In telling and showing Muscle Shoals’ musical story, first time director Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier also tells the story of Rick Hall whose life appears to have emerged from Greek mythology – an amalgam of Homer’s The Odyssey and the The Phoenix.

Raised in abject poverty, Hall experienced tragedies throughout his life. After a few of them, he opened a sound studio called ‘Fame’ in the late 1950s, and quickly propelled himself, his studio, and Muscle Shoals into American music history.

Although music and musicians comprise the body of this film, Hall and his story is its spine. He planted the seed, nurtured its growth, and now, in addition to taking his place in music history, he is the star of this show.

Camalier’s film is filled with many fine touches the most important of which is his coverage of the land around Muscle Shoals, and the river along it of which native American myth describes an underwater woman who sings songs.

I watch documentary screeners at home, and usually pause them for any number of reasons. I enjoyed all 111 minutes of this film non-stop – and I will be viewing and listening to it again.


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