It Might Get Loud
In the opening scene of director David Guggenheim’s music documentary, It Might Get Loud, Jack White (White Stripes, Raconteurs, The Dead Weather) makes a one string electric slide guitar with a board, a coke bottle, an old electric pick-up and a few nails. When he plugs it into his ancient Sears Silvertone amp and begins making howling sounds with it, the nearby cows (White is on the porch of backwoods country home, for atmosphere…) look up in curiosity. White says, “Who says you have to buy a guitar?” Of course, you have to buy an amp, an old pick up and an electric guitar chord, plus find a vintage coke bottle, but that’s beside the point.
White represents anti-technology in the trio of guitarists the film follows around. White likes old guitars that are hard to tune, that he has to “fight with.” On the opposite end is U2’s Edge, who never met an effects pedal he didn’t like. In the middle is the venerable, white haired sage/guitar legend
of Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page. By the end of the film, Guggenheim miraculously shows how these three all have
a lot more in common than it appears on the surface.
White and Page are simpatico brothers of the blues, who have their sources in old, raw music. White cites a Son House blues song, sung with nothing but hand claps, as his favorite song. Page plays Link Wray’s “Rumble” (as a 45 from his huge collection of vinyl) and delights in pointing out the nice bits. Edge is the odd man out here, mainly talking about pedals and bounce-back effects, and he’s more a “sound architect,” as Page generously calls him, than a guitar virtuoso like Page and White. But as each of these guitarists stories, philosophies and tips about their approach to the guitar unfold, a picture of pure love of the instrument and its unlimited abilities emerges. At the end, when the three guitarists play triple slide together on Led Zep’s “In My Time of Dying,” they’re attuned to each other and each contribute distinctive parts.
It Might Get Loud is a fascinating documentary for any music fan, especially guitarists. To see Jack White and The Edge watch in awe, studying his fingers as Jimmy Page plays the riff from “Whole Lotta Love” is alone worth the price of admission. Through the film, you get to see each guitarist from different angles, in mini-biographies that have rare footage and insights. Director Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) filmed it beautifully and captures a unique look into three major rock guitarists whose lives have been completely and forever shaped by their love of the electric instrument.