Looking back on Martin Scorsese’s tremendously prolific career, it might be said that he has become known for two things — films relating to organized crime, and using contemporary rock music to enhance his films. Taking a look at just one example, Goodfellas (1990) could be said to be a musical comprised of some of the greatest classic rock anthems of all time. Of course, the most memorable scene comes with Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) racing to keep his life from falling apart to the tune of Layla, which was originally written and performed by Derek and the Dominos.
Now, Martin Scorsese is taking his love for rock and roll and, enlisting the help of The Rolling Stones’ own Mick Jagger, has created an entire television series around it.
Vinyl Debuts And It’s Just What You Might Expect From Martin Scorsese
Vinyl, which debuted on HBO last night, is about a 1970s New York music executive eager to revolutionize the recording industry with the growing population of diverse musicians in his life. The era chosen by Martin for this series is by no means accidental. It was a time of strife in music as well as in politics, with disco and pop music rising up against the soulful folk rock and protest music of the 60s and, fortunately for Vinyl, Scorsese has the advantage of collaborating with a classic rock icon who lived through it all.
“Before Marty, people used music occasionally, but Marty was one of the first people to use rock ‘n’ roll in movies wall to wall,” said The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, who contributed to the creation of Vinyl.
While Mick doesn’t make an appearance in front of the camera for Vinyl, his son, James Jagger, does play a punk rocker in the series.
Meanwhile, Scorsese, who has used music from The Rolling Stones in a number of his past films, describes just what it was that compelled him to involve Mick Jagger in Vinyl‘s creative process.
“I’m his audience,” Scorsese said. “It’s stuff that is basically the inspiration for a lot of the visualizations throughout my films, particularly Mean Streets, Raging Bull and all the way up to The Wolf of Wall Street. His songs are tough and strong and reflect the attitudes of the people and the lives I grew up with. It was natural for us at some point to do something together.”
Meet Vinyl‘s Richie Finestra
The lead character for Vinyl is Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale) and, even just one episode in, he’s already reminding viewers of another remarkable HBO icon, Tony Soprano of The Sopranos. This may have something to do with the fact that Martin Scorsese also enlisted the help of Terence Winter, who formerly served as executive producer and writer for The Sopranos.
Cannavale delivers a no holds barred performance as Finestra in the Scorsese directed Vinyl pilot, as he’s seen confronting problems arising from both artists and within his own company. At one point, Finestra is seen battling his own partners, including Zak Yankovich (Ray Romano), over their eagerness to sell the floundering company.
“It’s a privilege to try and do this job — to introduce the world to new music, to shape the culture,” Finestra angrily tells Yankovich and his other partners.
“Richie, we’re going to be bankrupt in a month,” Vinyl‘s Yankovich says.
“I’m going in a new direction. I’m trying to bring us into the future,” Finestra screams back.
“While you’re over there in the future, I’m here in the present trying to keep the [expletive] lights on,” says Yankovich.
It remains to be seen whether Vinyl has the stamina to keep the lights on throughout the ten episode season, but with such iconic names as Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger behind it, the HBO series seems to have the power to light up the entire television watching community.
Vinyl airs Sundays on HBO.
[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]