Once upon a time, you could move to Manhattan and become part of the center of the cultural universe. This no longer happens because it’s just too expensive to live there. Dreamers looking for an apartment near the action can’t even afford Brooklyn. Any young kid now that calls Manhattan home either has a massive trust fund or works for an evil Wall Street operation. But back in the ’60s, you could find a semi-scary walk up rather easily. Danny Fields dropped out of Harvard and fell into a New York City life that can be found inside a great record collection.
The documentary follows how as a youngster Danny found himself inside Andy Warhol’s factory crowd. He was there for the arrival of fellow Harvard refugees that included Edie Sedgwick, the youth icon of the early ’60s. She’d be the subject of the book Edie: American Girl. Danny got deep into the Velvet Underground and relates his story of the day Nico appeared in his life. This normally is enough to make people a bit jealous of their life, but Danny had more. He ended up editing Datebook Magazine which was a rival of Sixteen. During his tenure they published the notorious interview where John Lennon declared the Beatles were bigger than God. This leads to a great story about the time he met Paul McCartney and confessed his involvement. Ultimately Danny was able to get in tight with Elektra Records when the Doors came to New York City. He was the one that told the label that “Light My Fire” needed to be edited down to a single. This suggestion made him head of publicity for the label. Although after a wild drug fueled day, Jim Morrison despised Danny. But the publicist went beyond spinning hype as one night he was able to get the label to sign the MC5s and The Stooges after they played NYC. He mostly worked with the Stooges during their time with the label. This part of the film is great as it gives a slightly different perspective on Iggy Pop and his band that are also featured in Jim Jarmusch’s Gimme Danger that just came out. Danny has plenty of stories about Iggy and the boys going over the edge. Iggy still has a few memories of those outrageous times.
After Danny had to part with Iggy, he ended up running Sixteen magazine. He made it a subversive teen outlet by sneaking his passions into the pages. He put together articles that compared Alice Cooper and Donnie Osmond. Plus he got teen girls to be exposed to Iggy Pop. He wasn’t happy just running Danny Partridge exclusives. His career changed course once more when he saw the Ramones at CBGBs. He asked his mom for enough money to be their manager. He made sure their quick punk songs and leather jacket image wasn’t watered down to make them the next Eagles. The film ends as he led the Ramones spreading the gospel of punk across the globe. They paid him back with their classic song “Danny Says.”
Many of the surviving people Danny worked with share their memories on camera including Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Wayne Kramer. They appreciate his friendship in an industry full of quick burn artists. The film has an informal quality too it with a majority of Danny’s interview done sitting around his place looking rather relaxed. This works so well since there’s the feeling that the viewer has shown up early for a party and asked Danny, “So what did you do during the ’60s and ’70s?” It’s an amazing yarn captured perfectly in Danny Says.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer looks fine although vintage footage can be rough at times. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital. This comes out best during the musical clips. Audio levels are fine during the interviews. The movie is subtitled in English and Spanish.
Danny Fields & Bryon Coley Q&A at Amherst Cinema (52:39) expands upon a few things in the movie. This is almost like a commentary track except with video. The chat was recorded October 14, 2015.
Danny Fields & Lou Reed Audio Recording (38:00) is a talk between the Godfather of Punk and the manager of Punk from back in 1975.
Michael Alago on Danny Fields & Henry Rollins (1:35) is an interesting talk about chair sniffing. Henry might get a laugh about it.
Justin Vivian Bond & The Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat (3:40) is a great tale about his attempt to create “The Three Faces of Edie.”
Nico’s “Evening of Light” (6:08) is her music video with The Stooges as extras. There’s a fire in the fields.
Interview with Director Brendan Toller (13:54) has him explain how the documentary came about and his approach to presenting Danny’s remarkable times.
Theatrical Trailer (2:23) promises time with a man who helped change music.
Magnolia presents Danny Says. Directed by: Brendan Toller. Written by: Brendan Toller. Starring: Danny Fields, Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 104 minutes. Released: January 31, 2017.
Tags: Danny Says, Iggy Pop, Ramones