Cowboy Jack Clement "can't stand seeing a parade go by in a straight line," says an old friend of maverick songwriter-record producer Clement in Shakespeare Was a Big George Jones Fan
, a delightfully offbeat documentary. An assistant to Sam Phillips at Sun Records during the late 1950s, Clement was one of the few people in the room when Elvis Presley made his first recordings. He also had a big hand in developing the early careers of Sun artists Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, advising the latter on switching from a country sound to pure rockabilly. Both the late Cash and Lewis appear in Shakespeare
, as do quite a few other artists and notable music-industry figures who speak glowingly about Clement's penchant for always challenging prevailing winds of fashion. He is, after all, as Shakespeare
tells us in a very funny anecdote, a man who had a hand in introducing Charley Pride, an African-American, to the predominantly white Nashville music establishment.
A former Arthur Murray dance instructor, Clement also wrote for Waylon Jennings, produced John Prine, built a couple of never-completed television specials around himself and his stellar friends, produced a bloody B movie (Dear Dead Delilah), spent most of his life perfecting an arrangement for the tune "Brazil," and even spearheaded this kooky but moving biographical film. Clement, as Kris Kristofferson points out, is a lot like Shakespeare's Falstaff, and he proves an easygoing and hugely fun figure rich in wisdom and love for life. The film basks in Clement's gently surreal sense of humor, takes many side roads, and even engages in a lot of sight gags, most of them provided by Cash. --Tom Keogh
: He's been a producer to Elvis Presley and U2, an Arthur Murray dance instructor, best friend to Johnny Cash, Sam Phillips' right-hand man, a U.S. Marine, a slasher-film producer, and he discovered Jerry Lee Lewis, Charley Pride and Townes Van Zandt. This off-the-wall feature about legendary Nashville record producer/performer/artist Cowboy Jack Clement tells the story of his amazing career via home movies longtime friends Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, John Prine, Bono and many more. Riding the trail between Monty Python and Blazing Saddles, this film inspires with lessons of creativity, mortality, and the risk and glory of a self-made life. Featuring his very close friends Johnny Cash, Bono, Waylon Jennings and Charly Pride. Includes never before seen footage and commentary of legendary artists such as Elvis Presley, Kris Kristofferson and George Jones. Bonus features include a commentary with Cowboy Jack & Alamo Jones.