Heartworn Highways Revisited: Special Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - FilmRise
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (15th July 2018).
The Film

In 1975 filmmaker James Szalapski managed to capture lightning in a bottle; he was in Nashville to document what was at the time the flourishing Outlaw Country movement and the results of that effort was the cult favorite documentary, "Heartworn Highways". Now nearly 40 years later we have director Wayne Price picking up the torch and trying to document a new generation of outlaws that live and work in Nashville. Since I have not seen the original film, I cannot compare the two products, but it become abundantly clear early on that there is a lot of talent assembled here for Price’s camera. This is the new generation of talented and dedicated singer-songwriters and it is extremely clear that it is the song itself that matters.

Just as the first film managed to capture the early skills of such later talents as Townes Van Zant, Guy Clark, and David Allen Coe, this time around all new players, some as yet unsigned and undiscovered, including Josh Hedley, Robert Ellis, Nikki Lane and Shovels & Rope perform for the camera and this film documents that Nashville is still the country music capital of the world. People are shown singing and playing in a number of places: backyards, front porches, seedy old time bars, and even at the Grand Ole Opry. Price’s message is loud and clear: the past may be over but to these youngsters, the past still has a lot to offer, in the music that was produced and the way that the songs were written. Music may have changed and the way it is recorded may have been modernized through the use of computers, but songwriting is still a craft practiced by these musicians, one line at a time, sifted through the personal filter of experience.

I have been a fan of alt-country for a long time now and there are plenty familiar faces on display here: Guy Clark, David Allen Coe, Steve Young, Josh Hedley, Bobby Bare Jr., the husband and wife due Nikki Lane and Shovels & Rope, Shelly Colvin and Justin Townes Earl. All are captured performing in one capacity or another and one gets the feeling that not only are they all talented musicians but that they know each other, often performing together and traveling together. This sense of community amongst the road masters is more than evident, and just like in the original version filmed some 40 years ago, the true spirit of the music is what is important. Many of these musicians may be unknown to the general public, but that is only because America has not yet learned to be open to new talent and new voices. In that sense, not much has changed since Townes Van Zant played “Waiting Around to Die” in a kitchen in his Texas home in the original film.

"Heartworn Highways Revisited" pays homage to some of its original stars, such as Guy Clark, David Allen Coe and Steve Young and a few are re-visited in this new edition, but the focus is clearly on the new up and comers. The new musicians are clearly in awe of these past talents and their talents, but while paying respect to the past is definitely a given, the new sounds of the present are foremost in the director’s mind. The only thing that I didn’t like was that too many of the musicians perform and are not identified until the final credits are rolling. Please Mr. Price, let’s give these young performers their due and let them bask in their five minutes of fame before they too become yesterday’s heroes.


Presented in the film's original ratio of 1.85:1 mastered in HD 1080p 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4 compression, the cinematography by Wayne Price is fairly competent but filming in a variety of locales under present conditions without appropriate lighting, etc. gives the film a semi-guerrilla documentary feel.


Two audio options are included in English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, the audio is clearly captured and the dialogue scenes are uncluttered even when several people are speaking at once, however it is the music that ultimately does the talking. Optional subtitles are included in English only.


None, and for a so called "Special Edition" that's not good enough.


Packaged in a standard Blu-ray keep case.


The film showcases a wealth of talent here, many new and upcoming stars in today’s Alt-Country world while at the same time touches base with some of its original stars.

The Film: B+ Video: B+ Audio: A Extras: F Overall: C-


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