What is that song in “A Ghost Story”?

I finally got around to watching A Ghost Story (2017), an interesting and somewhat unusual film about loss, love, death, and time.  The movie also features a beautiful song that plays a prominent role.  Upon hearing the song, I had to track it down.

First, a few comments about the movie.  Without going into an extensive review, I found it fascinating.  As others have noted, it is a little slow, but if you are in the right mood and patient, you might get a lot out of A Ghost Story.  I found myself slowly getting sucked into where the movie had a big emotional impact.

A Ghost Story stars Casey Affleck (as “C”) and Rooney Mara (as “M”) portraying a young couple living in a house when Affleck’s character is killed.  Without giving too much away, Affleck sort of rises from the dead as a ghost, returning to the house to haunt the house through time.  While one might expect the film to feature Affleck’s ghost interacting with his lover throughout the rest of the movie, the movie travels further through time, both forwards and backwards.

Director David Lowery made an interesting choice to have Affleck portray the ghost underneath a sheet with two eyes.  Or so it appears at first, because the costume designed by Annell Brodeur is actually more complex.  But it is a simple, recognizable ghost image without distracting special effects, serving the simplicity of the story.

There is little dialogue in A Ghost Story, as the ghost never makes any verbal sounds.  So, much of the movie plays like a silent film.  Again, some may find it boring, but if you are willing to invest in the movie, you might find it captivating.

“I Get Overwhelmed”

The movie also features a song that C plays for M when they are together.  And M later listens to the song after C has died.  Like the film, the song captivates you in a hypnotizing way.  The song is “I Get Overwhelmed” by Dark Rooms.

Is your lover there?
Is she wakin’ up?
Did she die in the night?
And leave you alone?

Dark Rooms features Daniel Hart, a performer and composer from Dallas, Texas. Hart has created music for other films and TV too. Dark Rooms’ first album, which includes “I Get Overwhelmed” from A Ghost Story, is Distraction Sickness, released in September 2017. The band is working on another album in Los Angeles.

Distraction Sickness is available from Dark Rooms’ Bandcamp website and at Amazon. A Ghost Story is now streaming on Amazon Prime. If you have already seen the movie and wonder how the song lyrics might play a bigger role in the movie, check out this discussion, which includes spoilers.

What did you think of A Ghost Story? Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • That Dirty Little Coward That Shot Mr. Howard
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  • Jesse James Born Today in the County of Clay
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    That Dirty Little Coward That Shot Mr. Howard

    “Now the people held their breath,
    When they heard of Jesse’s death;
    They wondered how he’d ever come to fall;
    Robert Ford it was a fact,
    He shot Jesse in the back,
    While Jesse hung a picture on a wall.”

    On April 3, 1882, Robert “Bob” Ford shot Jesse James in the back, thus ensuring both men would be immortalized in one of the great American folk songs. The song “Jesse James,” with the lyrics quoted above, referred to the outlaw Jesse Woodson James by his famous real name and by the alias he was using at the time of his death, Thomas Howard. The song has been covered by singers such as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, and Van Morrison.

    Singer-songwriter Nick Cave performed a version of the song in the excellent 2007 movie, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, with Brad Pitt as Jesse James and Casey Affleck as Robert Ford. This scene from the movie shows how Ford laid poor Jesse in his grave. Note that these clips contain spoilers from the movie.

    Here is Nick Cave’s appearance in the movie, singing “Jesse James” in a saloon to Robert Ford (Affleck).

    As for the aftermath of Jesse’s death, Ford and his brother Charles Ford had been promised a large reward by Missouri Governor Thomas T. Crittenden, but they only received a small portion of what was promised. And they were surprised at the hostility they received for killing James.

    Both brothers met tragic ends. In 1884, the terminally ill Charles killed himself. Robert Ford, like James, would later be assassinated. A little more than ten years after Jesse’s death, on June 8, 1892 Edward O’Kelley surprised Ford by calling his name in Ford’s Colorado tent saloon, shooting Ford dead as he turned. Robert Ford’s tragic end is captured in this beautiful ending sequence from The Assassination of Jesse James.

    Robert Ford and Jesse James are forever linked, although Jesse’s family understandably did not appreciate the association. Ford’s tombstone reads, “The man who shot Jesse James.” By contrast, Jesse James’s tombstone would read: “Jesse W. James, Died April 3, 1882, Aged 34 years, 6 months, 28 days, Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here.”

    Photo of Robert Ford via public domain.

    What is your favorite story of an outlaw’s death? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Google Saves the Planet By Adding “Bacon Number” Function

    Finally, the folks at Google have solved a worldwide problem by making it easy to find the “Bacon Number” for any actor, past or present. Google apparently was concerned that people were spending too much time thinking when they played “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” so they added a function where you can find the number easily on Google.

    Here is how: (1) In the Google search box, type “Bacon Number,” followed by an actor’s name; (2) Then hit “search.” That’s it. That actor’s “Bacon Number” will come up on the screen, along with an explanation of the steps.

    Considering actor’s mentioned in recent Chimesfreedom posts, it is easy to find that Daniel Day-Lewis’s Bacon Number is two. Casey Affleck’s Bacon Number is one because he appeared with Kevin Bacon in Lemon Sky (1988). Bob Dylan’s Bacon Number is two. . . If you prefer a video explanation, check out this clip:

    “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” was inspired by the play and film, Six Degrees of Separation (1993), which popularized a theory by author Frigyes Karinthy that everyone is on average only six introductions away from any other person on earth. The theory eventually developed into the theory that Kevin Bacon has been in so many films that one may connect him to any actor through six films or less. Up to now, one had to think to figure out the steps, but no longer.

    New York Magazine found some flaws with the program. And, since “bacon” made me think of Miss Piggy, I discovered that Google has no Bacon Number for her. But it does have a lot of actors.

    So, fire up Google and go at it. The world’s biggest problem is solved. Oh wait, you mean The Oracle of Bacon had already solved the problem (as well as knowing that Miss Piggy’s Bacon Number is two)?

    Whose Bacon Number did you check? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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  • Jesse James Born Today in the County of Clay

    “He was born one day in the County of Clay
    And he came from a solitary race.”

    On today’s date in 1847, Jesse James was born in Clay County Missouri. Within two years, his father, the Rev. Robert James, ran off and left his family behind to go to look for gold in California, never to return. Their mother Zerelda soon remarried a stepfather who was abusive to Jesse and his brother Frank, and she would later marry another stepfather.

    As a teenager in the border state of Missouri, Jesse learned to kill for the South during the Civil War, as did his brother Frank. Then the brothers went on to a life of crime. By most accounts, Jesse was not the Robin Hood hero as portrayed in the traditional “Ballad of Jesse James,” made famous by Woody Guthrie and others. But sometimes we need outlaw heroes to inspire us to fight authority. Below is a version of the song by Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band, starting with a long banjo introduction.

    Springsteen’s version of the ballad appears on We Shall Overcome The Seeger Sessions. Other songs that reference James include Cher’s “Just Like Jesse James” from 1988. If you wish to celebrate Jesse James’s birthday with a film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is one of the most beautiful movies of recent years. While slow-paced at times, the movie, which stars Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, is elegiac and poetic.

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