Here is my playlist:
000 John Matthew Jones – “Louise Brooks” -- from What Will Survive EP (2013) 1:40
001 Sarah Azzara – “Like Louise Brooks” -- from Revenge of Danger Girl (2000) 3:25
002 Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark – “Pandora’s Box” -- from Sugar Tax (1991) 4:04
003 Soul Coughing - “St. Louise is Listening” -- from el oso (1998) 4:29
004 Ron Hawkins – “Lulu” -- from The Secret of My Excess (1995) 1:49
005 Rhum for Pauline – “Louise Brooks' Lover” – from Miami (2010) 2:43
006 Natalie Merchant – “Lulu” -- from her self-titled album (2014) 4:15
007 Jen Anderson – “Lulu: The Story” -- from Pandora’s Box: The Soundtrack (1993) 3:56
008 The Prize – “Silence” -- from Silence (2002) 7:00
009 Nouvelle Culture – Actress Louise Brooks Theme – from Fading Pictures (2005) 4:41
010 Olivia Louvel – “Lulu a Hollywood” -- from Lulu in Suspension (2007) 4:09
011 Gosta Berling – “Berlin” -- from Everybody’s Sweetheart (2008) 8:07
012 Javolenus – “Waiting For You (Like Louise Brooks)” – from ccmixter website (2013) 3:12
013 Paul Hayes – “Louise Brooks” -- from Vol. 1 Love Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (2003) 2:13
014 The GrrrL – “Black is the Color (Louise Brooks’ Hair)” -- from Run You Luscious Lesbian (2010) 1:57
015 Tombstone Teeth – “Louise Brooks On The Subway” from Bells of Orchids (2011) 1:30
016 unreal dm – “Bob Your Head Like Louise Brooks” -- from LastFM website (200?) 3:50
017 Lady Godiva – “Louise Brooks” -- from Louise Brooks Avenue (1999) 4:47
018 Les Primitifs du Futur – “Chanson pour Louise Brooks” -- from World Musette (1999) 3:50
019 Maurice Chevalier – “Louise” -- from a 78 rpm (1929) 3:12
|That's me, wearing a vintage Clubfoot Orchestra "Pandora's Box" t-shirt|
I’ll be playing music from all over the map – electronica, new wave, alt rock, folk rock, prog rock, pop and even a little vintage jazz. But all of it is tied together by some kind of association with the silent film star Louise Brooks. Some of these songs are tributes or homage. Some only name-check the actress. But still, its pretty remarkable that so many contemporary musicians have composed songs about an actress who was working nearly a century ago.
For those who might not be familiar with the actress, Louise Brooks was a silent film star popular in the 1920s. She is thought of as a flapper, and was famous for her bobbed hair. It was a style worn and copied by many women in the Jazz Age, and today you still see is worn by models and actresses and perhaps even a few students around Davis. Among Brooks’ contemporaries were familiar names like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Rudolph Valentino and Clara Bow – the IT girl. They were all people she knew.
Brooks mostly played in comedies and light dramas and the occasional crime film. Some think of Brooks as a femme fatale. She made a number of films in Hollywood, as well as one movie in Berkeley, a college romance called Rolled Stockings; however, that film, like so many other silent films, is lost.
Had your grandparents been in Davis in the 1920s, they would have seen Brooks films play at the old Varsity Theater. The old Varsity (located at 706 2nd Street) operated from 1921 to around 1949. That building was demolished and replaced by store buildings. A new Varsity Theater, built at 616 2nd Street, still operates today.
Though Brooks was an American actress, she did make three films in Europe. Those include the 1929 German made Pandora’s Box, in which she played Lulu. It is easily her best known role and film. She also made another German film, Diary of a Lost Girl, which is really terrific, as well as an early French sound film, Prix de beaute, or Beauty Prize. Each is a tragedy, and without giving anything away, I’ll say that Brooks’ character comes to a bad end in each. Jack the Ripper is involved in one.
I have about 20 tracks line up, which should fill this time slot. Most of them are pretty obscure. I have other LB related tracks, but these are my favorites and these are the ones I thought listeners would enjoy.
If you want to find out more, look Louise Brooks up online. Chances are you come to my Louise Brooks Society website at www.pandorasbox.com , which is full of information about the actress. There is also a terrific biography by Barry Paris which is available at the UC Davis library. The Shields library also has a copy of Brooks' book Lulu in Hollywood. There is also a documentary.
A handful of her surviving films, including Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, are available on DVD. Also, her best American film, Beggars of Life, is coming out on DVD next month. [Beggars of Life tells the story of an orphan girl who kills her abusive stepfather and flees the law. While on the run, she dresses as a boy, hops trains, and hangs out with hobos. It’s transgressive in so many ways....] BTW, that new release includes an audio commentary by yours truly. I’ve also just published a new book on the film called Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film. It’s available on amazon.